Burgundian Pinot Noir is about the many ways to be charming. This village wine does it with pretty. Alas, it is a dirty pretty thing, but a sod-less Burgundy is like a poem without words.
Should we concern ourselves with pretty at all? Consult books on aesthetics and you will find no discussion of it. Pretty isn’t beautiful. Pretty seems to be on a continuum with beauty but doesn’t measure up. It’s pleasing and agreeable but not impressive, rich, deep, or decisive.
Cuvée Miss Armand is shy up front but a silken swish takes over at midpalate launching a fruit persistent finish. Its simple vibrant aromas—a violet scent resting on cherry, spiced with anise, and an undercurrent of fresh loam—lift you like a warm breeze on the first day of spring. Limber and lithe, it moves gently across the palate, and when it gathers its energy it still speaks softly, elegant to the end never giving up the fresh fruitiness that draws you in. MIss Armande must be accompanied by quiet, gentle music, anything jumpy ruins the moment. “All I Need” by Air captures the mood.
It’s all very nice but for $50 you can find beautiful, even profound (outside of Burgundy). So why bother? Shouldn’t we resist being seduced by pretty which is after all notoriously superficial.
This is why we should take pretty seriously. It’s available and accessible, pervasive really. Every garden and many living rooms are bursting with pretty and it takes no skill or knowledge to appreciate. Pretty permeates the countless small noticings that connect the moments in a life. Superficiality is its super power. Be happy there is something that asks nothing of you but gives you endless moments of pleasure.
For we humans, to be pretty isn’t enough. Pretty can hide a black heart. But in a wine the seductions of pretty harbor no suspicion. In a wine, pretty is perfect.
I cook mushrooms when I’m pouring Burgundy. But you can take the pairing in a variety of directions.
Pinot Noir is usually not terrific with tomato sauce. But a 90 minute pomodoro sauce loaded with crimini mushrooms and dried porcinis, with a slice of parmigiano-reggiano and a touch of white miso served over penne was excellent. The wine stands up to the acidity of the tomatoes and has enough weight to support the robust umami-laden sauce.
Arancini (fried rice balls) made from a mushroom risotto gave the wine life playing up the acidity but with no sourness.
A baked tureen of sweet potato, toasted bread cubes, and a mixture of mushroom and kale moistened with light cream and topped with Gruyère boosted the fruitiness of the wine giving it a touch of sweetness.
Of course a Burgundian would wonder why there are no French dishes on this list. C’est la vie!
Notes: The grapes were harvested from several parcels in the Monthélie appellation, fermented with native yeasts, and aged in 10% new oak for 18-20 months.