Burgundy in the morning

Not many trade tastings are held at 9 a.m.. But I would have gotten up in time for a 5 a.m. sampling of the 2010 vintage from Bouchard Pere et Fils and William Fevre.

And what a vintage. “The 2009s were more ripe and opulent in structure,” said Morgan Delacloche, export manager for Henriot, the French conglomerate that owns those wineries. “The 2010s had more finesse. We used less oak than usual.  A warm-weather vintage, one of three in the last decade (with 2003 and 2011) where picking began in August, the 2010s showed a lot of cut and tension but also plenty of fruit and savory notes (highlights below).

And Delacloche proved an entertaining and edifying host. Among the other tidbits I gleaned while sipping the mid-morning away:

• There is actually a village called Chardonnay in Burgundy’s sub-region Saône-et-Loire.

• Pommard is “counterfeited a lot,” perhaps more than any Burgundian appellation

• Le Corton is the only grand cru in the Côte de Beaune.

• “The most precious thing for a winemaker is a one-year-old barrel “¦ Fevre is a retirement home for Bouchard barrels. We ferment 50 percent in used barrels, 50 percent steel, then all in tanks. 

As for the wines, the Bouchard Chevalier Montrachet tasted like, well, what a $300 wine should taste like, light and dark, rich but delicate, with harmony and tension, just about endless. Andmy favorite Bouchard red, the “L’Enfant Jésus,” did not disappoint, with that silky-earthy thing, great complexity and a spectacular finish; if a $100 wine can be called an absolute steal, this is it.

A similar value at about a third the price was the Fevre Montmains Chablis ($38), absurdly fresh and surprisingly smooth for that region. Finally the Fevre Les Clos ($100) was the best young Chablis I can remember tasting, with equally big minerality and fruit, enticing pear elements and another boundless finish.

All in all, 2010 is a “be careful what you wish for” vintage for those of us who like our Burgundy both earthy and refined, with way more great wines than most any of us can afford.

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