Other than Austrian and German wines (okay, Greek and Croatian wines are pretty damn tough to figure out too), there are no wines with names more difficult to read, let alone remember, than the wines of Burgundy, France. Some hoity-toity people like the off-putting, intimidating nature of Burgundian wine—these are the same people that either have paid, or dream of paying, six-figures for a bottle of DRC in their lifetime—but most consumers avoid this category completely. Too expensive, too difficult to comprehend, too . . . hoity-toity. If you’re in the latter crowd, try to not walk away from giving true Burgundy a try—there really is a world of difference between Chardonnay from Burgundy versus California, and likewise Pinot Noir. The MARCHAND-TAWSE Morey-Saint-Denis “Clos des Ormes,” and many superb wines from this organically- and biodynamically-farmed producer, is a mighty fine place to start exploring pristine, high-end Cru Burgundy wines without having to break the bank nearly as much as you would have to with more familiar names (such as Faiveley, Ponsot, Rousseau or the aforementioned Domaine Romanée-Conti).
First, let’s decipher the code: 1) Marchand-Tawse is a modern partnership between two Canadians, Pascal Marchand and Moray Tawse, who produce wine by sourcing grapes from prestigious sites across the Burgundy region as well as from a growing portfolio of estate properties they own. 2) Morey-Saint-Denis is a village in the Cote de Nuits, a northern region of Burgundy that produces the greatest Pinot Noir in the world. 3) Clos des Ormes is the name of a formerly enclosed, protected vineyard from which the Pinot Noir grapes that made this wine was derived—the vineyard was once protected long ago because it was considered that special. This 2010 Clos des Ormes is such a vibrantly pretty wine. Think Audrey Hepburn pretty. It starts with a floral, feminine bouquet of rose petals, dark red strawberries and cherry cola. Fruit richness meets soft, gentle tannins that roll along a lean and firm spine, taking you to a finish that’s lingering, vivacious and delicate. Of course, all along the way there’s that unmistakable Burgundian character of earthiness and minerality, as well as striking acidity, that bring an attractive quality of complexity, freshness and purity. If California Burgundy is Elizabeth Taylor, voluptuous and curvy, then this true Burgundy is definitely Audrey Hepburn at her enchanting, romantic best . . . Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Charade, Roman Holiday, Sabrina. Cue: “Moon River.” –J.M.