You might imagine that the most decisive moments in buying Burgundy fall at the very high end. But who wants to be promoting $400-plus bottles that don't quite reach the highs their tariffs imply? Rather, it's the humble Bourgogne-level wines that I fret about the most. I've argued many times in support of the truth that value exists at every twist and turn in Burgundy. You just have to look hard enough.
Charles Van Canneyt is best known for his day job producing the revered wines at his family's estate in Vosne-Romanée, Domaine Hudelot-Noellat. A few years ago, Charles wanted to have some freedom to express Pinot Noir and Chardonnay in a slightly different vein and started his own label. Within the context of Burgundy, though, the wines are still extremely tied to the Hudelot-Noellat style. Purity first.
Looking at Burgundy's $30 to $40 category can be a bit of a minefield. It's critical that the names in question apply the same meticulous process as top cuvées. That's precisely why the Bourgogne Rouge from Charles is such a winner. Tasting this alongside his Charmes-Chambertin and Chambertin-Clos de Beze, the Bourgogne Rouge carries the same translucency and rigorous definition as the Grand Crus.
Regal structure aside, there's also an immediacy and fruit-forward component that makes these super primal in their deliciousness. This has become a house Burgundy for me. I once came upon a bottle of the 2013 bottle hiding in a dark corner of my cellar, and its expression had only grown more vibrant in three years: Gorgeous bright cherry fruit, a finely woven thread of minerality, and a hint of forest floor residing under it all. From one of the most gifted minds in Burgundy, this is a great chance to line the walls of your cellar for a song.
The most significant domaine I visited in the Loire this spring was Bernard Baudry in Chinon. When Max decided to open a wine shop, in 2015, it was producers like Baudry that exemplified the soul of KWM’s selection: “Great people doing the hard work and expressing terroir as thoughtfully as possible,” Max explained to me. “And on top of that, the wines are pure, delicious, and have masterful structure and finesse.”
Coming from a long line of winegrowers, Bernard Baudry left his family’s domaine to set out on his own. In 1975, he started by purchasing Les Grézeaux and slowly expanded to what’s now 30 hectares spread across Chinon. They are deeply interested in “making wines according to the soil,” as Bernard’s son, Matthieu, put it. He joined his father in 2001 and now oversees the winemaking. Over nearly five decades, the Baudry’s have closely studied their landscape through vinification parcellaire, or parcel by parcel, with each cuvée capturing its soil and terroir.
Le Grezeaux, the vineyard where everything began, sits closest to the Vienne river, on gravel soils with rocks and clay, while the entry-level cuvée, Le Domaine is at the very top of the plateau, where there is a mix of sand and clay over limestone. Le Grezeaux’s gravel soils yield supple body and concentration with silky tannins, while the Le Domaine has chalky minerality and freshness due to the limestone.
Clos Guillot is unto itself, in the middle of the slope, where Chinon’s limestone is most prominent. “Limestone is what I call the white gold,” Matthieu declared. Well, in this case, the limestone is actually yellow. Clos Guillot combines rich red fruit and striking minerality, power and elegance, making it the most ageable of the three rouge cuvées here today. We rarely compare Chinon to Burgundy, but Clos Guillot's uniquely similar soil type has transparency and finesse in line with the Côte d'Or.
In my earlier offer for Domaine de la Chevalerie, I mentioned Bourgueil and Chinon are more alike than different. Matthieu admitted to this, explaining that his wines can be more reminiscent of certain Bourgueil producers than Chinon neighbors who farm with pesticides. Still, the latter is considered the Loire’s top appellation for Cabernet Franc. Importer Kermit Lynch has much to do with Chinon’s star power, according to Rajat Parr and Jordan Mackay's The Sommelier’s Atlas of Taste (2018). It was the 1989 vintage that Kermit Lynch first began importing Baudry to the U.S. market.
If there is any Chinon producer to add to your cellar, we would argue that it is Baudry. Our operations director, Marc, blinded us on a bottle of 2012 Le Domaine. Its peppery notes gave away that it was Cabernet Franc, but I was astounded to find it was Chinon. Looking back, these wines have the grandeur of Bordeaux but elegance and freshness undoubtedly tied to the Loire. In a decade, this entry-level wine had preserved its youthfulness with incredible grace. The fact that these wines are so reasonably priced rank them among the best-valued Cabernet Francs in the world.
Thivin's Côte de Brouilly has been a staple in our Cru Beaujolais category since day one. The value at $32 per bottle is always refreshing, as top producers in the region continue to climb. These 50-year-old vines are situated on blue volcanic soil and an unusually steep 48% grade slope. There's a blue-fruited quality to the Gamay that leads one to believe terroir can impart an undeniable sense of place.
Château Thivin’s roots date back to the 15th century, though it was in 1877 when Zaccharie Geoffrey purchased the two-hectare estate at auction that it began as we know it today. Geoffrey's grandson, Claude, was pivotal in creating the Côte de Brouilly appellation during the great depression, and the family has continued the production of this benchmark Côte de Brouilly. Kermit Lynch visited the domaine during his first trip on the wine route with Richard Olney in 1976.
Jean-Louis Dutraive's entire stable of wines falls into the elite category of Cru Beaujolais. While he has various parcels in Fleurie, the Clos de la Grand Cour always thrills me for its lightness and ethereal pitch.
The Clos de la Grand Cour is a true walled-in vineyard, with up to 80-year-old vines growing on almost pure granite with a thin topsoil. The wine ages in 35% in stainless steel, 30% in fûts de chêne, and 30% foudres for 9 to 12 months. Lifted spices meet fresh raspberry and cherry to give a delicate wine with deep texture and a long finish.
Compared to other titans of Beaujolais, I find Dutraive's wines are often lighter in color, with more lifted spice and a wild, natural element that stands out due to a low sulfur protocol. I try to wait several years after release to tap into these top cuvées. Aged Dutraive is pure magic when fruit begins to fall to the background, and exotic spices become more prominent.
Domaine Trapet is one of Burgundy's most historically significant producers, but now, with their seventh generation at helm, it seems like they're on a roll lately. Gevrey-Chambertin wines are typically known for their powerful construction and dark earth, but Trapet's Pinot Noirs are light on their feet, still finishing with Gevrey's alluring brown spices.
The style here emphasizes aromatic clarity and refined tannins, with wild red berries saturating the palate, and a persistent mineral drive. As much as the whole-cluster approach gives way to bursting fruit on the attack, the palate is lean and chiseled. Stems range from 20% to 50% from Village to Grand Crus. In all, wherever you taste in the hierarchy of cuvées, Trapet is among the greatest producers in the Côte de Nuits. The only weakness is the exceedingly limited amount that comes to California!