Wine Review: Vincent Girardin Santenay Les Gravières 1Er Cru Pinot Noir 2009

les gravieres santenay pinotAll wine writers have a very solemn duty—when you find an affordable, quality, pinot noir from Burgundy, you must drop everything and report it to your readers. They are so rare you can spend months seeking one in the wild and come up with nothing.

Yesterday, while participating in a blind-tasting presentation at the Newport Beach Wine and Food festival organized by Wine Elite, I came upon such a rare bird. I became so preoccupied I almost forgot to do my job, which was to describe to the assembled multitudes why this was an old world, not a new world, Pinot Noir. I managed to pull my nose out of the glass long enough to mumble something about dirt and acid before continuing my reverie.

If you don’t own a bank and find yourself lamenting your inability to drink good Burgundian Pinot, seek this one out.

Abundant aromas of black cherry, mushrooms and floral notes with hints of fennel–vivacious compared to most “ Burgandies” in this price range. The palate is generous as well, almost full bodied, yet lively and full of finesse with characteristically high acidity supported by surprisingly robust tannins that give this wine a very satisfying finish. A shapely and tasty wine with an undercurrent of seriousness in its structure.

This wine is affordable because the grapes are grown in Santenay, one of Burgandy’s lesser known wine regions south of Beaune and several miles from the storied vineyards of Côte de Nuits. There are no Grand Cru vineyards in Santenay so it lacks the reputation and thus the high prices of its neighbors. When I visited Beaune several years ago it was in Santenay that I found the best bargains. Some of their wines can be thin and rustic in cool vintages but 2009 was a good year for ripening grapes in central France.

Drinking very well now but it has the structure to age 5 more years.

Score: 90

Price: $39

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