This is the first time we've reviewed a Burgundy on VINE-YL. Some might think that's crazy, or even sacrilegious. Any self-respecting wine-blogger would certainly not have waited so long to extol the virtues of wines most virtuous region. Burgundy is the stuff of legends. Wine's most coveted yet misunderstood area. The area that all wine snobs strive to know best. I myself had a Burgundy map hanging above my kitchen sink for a period of time, hoping that I would absorb the layout of its terrain, that I would one day be able to wax philosophical about the subtle differences between Gevrey Chambertin and Vosne Romanee. Then I gave up. Sure I know a bit, frankly all I think I need to know. The thing is, I am not anywhere near wealthy enough at this point in my life to drink Burgundy on even a semi-irregular basis. It's far too expensive and therefore, not on my wine-reviewing-radar. That is except for the occasional Bourgogne Rouge.

The thing with Bourgogne Rouge is that it's declassified Burgundy. This means it is made from Pinot Noir from 'somewhere' in Burgundy and maybe even from a few different places. It is not from one single great area, nor is it from one single great vineyard, meaning it is one great thing: affordable. It's not always easy to find good Bourgogne Rouges. In good vintages, like 2005 for example, they can be pretty spectacular. Like any other wine, it is important to know which producers are best. And any good honest shopkeep will hopefully tell you which ones he or she prefers.

I've always liked Nicolas Potel. He's not a producer in the sense that he doesn't produce wine from his own vineyards, he's what is called a Negociant. This word can sometimes be thrown around in a negative way, but it shouldn't be. Negociants establish relationships with producers and purchase their grapes, often (as is the case with Potel) being involved with the grower in the vineyard up until harvest. Negociants are common in Burgundy as well as Champagne. They are also common in California, where a lot of winemakers simply can't afford to have their own vineyards. A great deal of California grapes are grown by people who just grow grapes and then sold to people who just make wine. It works out pretty well for everybody.

The 2006 vintage has yet to be officially rated in Burgundy but the word on the street is that the wines are pretty darn good. When I saw the 2006 Potel Bourgogne Rouge on the shelf I immediately bought two bottles. At around $25 this was a substantial purchase but well worth it. Nothing impresses like a decent Burgundy, and when we brought it over to a friend's for a little “Chili My Soul,” dinner party they were very impressed indeed. The nose is absolutely gorgeous, offering up a little but of everything-cola, red fruit, herbs, roses and earth. On the palate there are gobs of juicy red fruit with bright acidity and a silky mouthfeel. A balanced wine that is both subtle and bold, yet complex and harmonious, perfect with Jazz.

NICOLAS POTEL BOURGOGNE ROUGE PINOT NOIR, 2006