2010 Sylvain Langoureau Saint-Aubin

Hello friends. I like next-door-neighbor appellations.

Now I’ll admit: there’s no denying the quality of the heavy hitters. Places like Chateauneuf-du-Pape and St. Emilion have earned their chops. But when you pay for a bottle from these places, you’re paying for a) the quality of the juice inside the bottle; and b) the well-curated reputation of the appellation on the outside of the bottle.

Sometimes it’s nice to take b) out of the equation, and that’s where the next-door-neighbor appellations come in (like Gigondas or Lussac-St. Emilion in the examples above).

The same holds for white Burgundy:

Today we’re in Saint Aubin, which sure as hell isn’t selling wine based on name recognition. But look on the map at where we are. Spit in the wind, and even odds you’ll hit a vigneron in Chassagne-Montrachet or Puligny-Montrachet, homes of $100+ Chardonnays.

And again, I don’t begrudge these regions their right to price how they like. After all, a long-established track record for excellence is worth something, right?

But it’s also fun to explore the frontier, the vanguard, the regions less steeped (frozen?) in history and tradition. Saint Aubin is a fine example. For the first half of the 20th century, the region was planted mostly to Aligote, the forgotten white varietal of Burgundy. Then the Aligote was torn out and replanted with Pinot Noir. It took another 30 years to realize that was a bad idea (about 25% of the region is still planted to Pinot, but in my experience, it’s best avoided), and now the preponderance of the vineyards have been planted to Chardonnay.

Chardonnay is what works best in the limestone and marl soils here, and this bottle is a fine example. Aromatics include peach and pear, lemon and nuts, with a great chalky mineral/saline streak running throughout. It’s a ringer for higher-end white Burg. This sees just a kiss of new French oak (about 20%), which impacts the mouthfeel (full, intense) more than the flavor, which mixes orchard and tree fruits with earthy-bready subtleties. The overall package is precisely balanced, and it presents a fine winter white, a Chardonnay that for me punches well above its price class and its humble AOC.

It comes from Langoureau, a lovely little husband-and-wife producer tucked into a small space in the village of Gamay (which has nothing to do with the Gamay Noir grape), located about halfway between Saint Aubin and its pricier neighbors. The only drawback of their boutique size is that not much of this wine makes it to Seattle. I liked the wine enough to ask for a hold on the entire remaining parcel, but it’s not much. So, please limit order requests to 6 bottles, and we’ll do our best to fulfill all requests. The wine should arrive in about a week, at which point it will be available for pickup or shipping during the spring shipping window.

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