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What I've Been Drinking Lately: Under $25 a bottle-and It's Real White Burgundy!
By John Anderson
Jun 21, 2023
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Class is now back in session, so I propose to return to the topic at hand:  Good white Burgundy that sells for under $25 a bottle retail.  And, yes, such wines do exist!  Really, they do!

I’ll begin with Chablis because the 2020 vintage was so good there and in the surrounding area, the Côtes d’Auxerre.  My starting point is the excellent Domaine Goisot located in Saint Bris and run by the tandem of father Jean-Hugues and son Guilhem Goisot (imported by Polaner).  I have long been a fan of the Goisots’ delicious Bourgogne Aligoté and can confidently recommend their Côtes d’Auxerre “Cépage Chardonnay” as well as the Saint-Bris Sauvignon Blanc.  The wines are organic and biodynamic—“And boy does it ever show!” as my enthusiastic note indicates.  The Aligoté retails for about $22 and the “Cépage Chardonnay” sells for about $25.  The Saint-Bris, where, unusually (for Burgundy), only Sauvignon Blanc grapes can be grown, for about $20.  These are all beautiful examples of what they are.  

Generally speaking, you are not going to get good, small grower Chablis Premier Cru—much less Grand Cru!—for under $25 a bottle, but there are bargains to be had in Chablis at the village level (labeled simply as “Chablis”).  Now if money is no object, then by all means buy Raveneau and Dauvissat.  But if the dreaded word “money” is an object, and you’re looking for value, then let us move on!
My starting point in Chablis are the wines of Jean-Marc Brocard, who over the course of a few decades has made himself a major player in the region.  I am a big fan of his entire range of domaine-bottled wines, but especially admire for value his two “basic” 2020 wines, the Bourgogne Blanc “Chardonnay en Sol  Kimmeridgien” and the Chablis “Sainte Claire,” which, as the back label explains, is derived from grapes grown in the “single vineyard ‘Sainte Claire,’ [planted with] 30 year old vines on Kimmeridgean limestone.  Fermented with indigenous yeast.”  The wine is plump and peachy, ripe without the slightest indication of being overripe or over alcoholic (13% stated).  The Bourgogne Blanc is, if anything, more minerally, flinty and Chablis-like (oyster shells!), but not as plump and fleshy.  I bought a case of the Chablis for $20 per bottle on sale.  The Bourgogne Blanc I’ve bought for as little as $17-$18 a bottle.  Absolute steals.  

Generally speaking, the 2021 Chablis are up in price over the 2020s—the size of the vintage, which was small—alas, speaks loudly.  Nevertheless, there are a host of 2020 basic Chablis from some very fine growers (just not the most famous growers!) still priced at $25 and under per bottle.  And there are, of course, even better deals if you buy in bulk or score a hit at a reputable retail merchant’s online Flash Sale.  Among the many 2020 small grower basic Chablis I’ve enjoyed in this price range are the wines of Domaine Daniel Dampt & Fils and Domaine Vincent Dampt, both located in the village of Milly, and both very nicely made, being very similar in style and substance, and both 12.5% stated alcohol.  I loved the 2020 from Domaine Isabelle & Denis Pommier in Poinchy (12.5% stated alcohol), which, I noted, had “real Chablis cut to it, nice definition,” and admired the 2020 Chablis “Dessus la Carrière” from Domaine Gilbert Picq & Fils in Chichée (12%), both of which are imported by the estimable Doug Polaner.  The latter was regularly $27+tax, but I got it on sale for $25+tax.

I believe I said something about a price increase, did I not?  Well here’s what I mean by that.  Old fave Bourgogne Blanc “La Forêt” from Maison Joseph Drouhin was for years parked in the enviable $17 or so a bottle range retail.  I famously bought bottles of the 2018 and 2019 on sale for $15.29+ and counted myself lucky.  Now I count myself very, very lucky.  The 2021 vintage is now topping $25+ per bottle.  I haven’t tried it—yet.  What I can say is that I liked both the ’18 and the ’19 versions—and not only for their bargain price tags!  I particularly liked the ’18, somewhat to my surprise, it being a hot year (yet the wine came in at 13.5% stated alcohol—a good sign if ever there were one!).  My enthusiastic note to myself about this wine, which I’ve now tasted many times over the past few months, reads:  “Nice bright yellow color—immediately inspiring confidence.  Well balanced wine.  No burn.  Slightly honeyed on the nose—the ripe ’18 vintage.  Saline on the finish (Chablis in the blend).  Nice, light mineral character.  Seems to have very little Mâconnais in the blend; but a lot of Côte Chalonnaise and at least some Côte d’Or with a nice dash of Chablis.  Terrific value.  Great job of blending.”

Finally, two excellent examples of the new Bourgogne “Côte d’Or” AOC in whites, which further demarcates wines from the best region of  Burgundy:  The 2020 versions from Domaine Bzikot and Domaine Jean Pascal, both in Puligny.  I bought the Bzikot for $21.50+ on sale from Daniel Posner (The Grapes at Rye), who tells me that this is his best-selling white Burgundy.  No wonder.  I gather that the parcels from whence these grapes came are in Puligny itself.  So I am told! It damned well tastes like Puligny—and much better than some better-known growers’ AC Puligny do in fact taste.  Very light lemon color, minerally, with just a touch of new oak.  Nicely balanced.  Super value wine.  

The Domaine Jean Pascal, I bought online at a one-day Astor Flash Sale for $20 per bottle.  (I just saw the same wine for $35+, but we can continue to dream on—and remember not to pass over those Flash Sales without a careful look-see.)  I bought a case—as I also did with the Bzikot, for the same reason (Price, Price, Price!).  That said, the Pascal has a lovely lemon-yellow color with a slightly green aspect to it.  Very lovely fruit for a Bourgogne Blanc even one with the new added “Côte d’Or” AC.  Tasted over three nights, it just got better and better.  I’d bet money that the fruit came from old vines.  Really good stuff.  Astor Wine’s Amy Miller describes the nose this way:  “Citrus, pear and a nice touch of oak.”  Exactly so, though I would add:  “Acacia honey too—just enough.”  Very lovely for what it is.  

Now you see!  The Old Professor wasn’t fool’n!  You can find really, really good white burgundies for $25 and under.  But to do so, you must keep your eyes open, study-up and study well, and strike when you can.  The payoff is real—and, oh, so satisfying!