2008 Philippe Garrey Mercurey Vielles Vignes

Hello friends. Import offerings two days in a row? Mon dieu! What can I say: these kinds of deals don’t come along too often, so let’s make hay while the sun shines.

Our week of the price drop continues on the import end of things. Much like Tuesday’s Brunello, this is a big price drop, with plenty of urgency (again, other accounts around town definitely tasted this wine this week, but we can move pretty nimbly in these situations). I’ll need to place my order tomorrow morning, so please try to get requests in by then.

Today’s deal: old vine red Burgundy. For $15.

As you can see here, this wine is retailing at $26 here in the northwest. Looks like there’s a parcel in Connecticut selling for $24 if some of you east-coasters want to avoid shipping.

I suspect the cause of this price drop is vintage-related. With all the excitement over the 2009 and 2010 vintages in Burgundy, the 08s have been lost in the shuffle. Fine by me. 2008 was an uneven vintage, with some producers working magic and others… not so much. It’s a vintage that requires plenty of tasting to ferret out the gems, and that’s exactly what we love to do.

As we all know, finding value Burgundy is no easy proposition. For the most part, $15 Burg is Bourgogne Rouge, and much of it is better off in the cooking pot (or the distillery) than in your glass. But there are exceptions, and this is one of them.

The Cote Chalonnaise is a fine place to seek out value. To the north, the Cote de Nuits and Cote de Beaune have the Pinot Noir big guns: Gevrey-Chambertin, Chambolle-Musigny, Nuits-Saint-Georges, Pommard, Volnay. To the south, the Maconnais is the go-to for quaffable, affordable Chardonnay.

The Chalonnaise is the tweener (see its location on the Burg map). It has a grand total of zero Grand Cru vineyards, and so it receives about a grand total of zero attention from mainstream drinkers. The five AOCs in this region are Bouzeron, Rully, Givry, Montagny, and Mercurey. If you’ve heard of more than one of those, give yourself a pat on the back; you know more about wine than 97% of the population.

Today we’re in Mercurey, widely considered the filet of the Chalonnaise, with its 32 Premier Cru vineyards and its iron-rich marl soil. Philippe Garrey took over the family domaine in 2002 and completed a conversion to all biodynamic farming in 2007. His wines are rarely exported, and we’re lucky to have a crack at them.

This is no-doubt-about-it Pinot Noir: a pale, pale ruby red. I’ve seen plenty of Washington rosé that is darker. Then again, I’ve never really understood folks who ask for “a big Pinot Noir,” a request I overhear on a semi-regular basis in restaurants. There’s a name for big Pinot Noir: it’s called Syrah. But I digress. Mini-rant over. Anyway, there’s no confusing this with Syrah; it’s ethereal Pinot all the way.

Beautiful aromatics of red cherry and red raspberry intermingle with earth and shitake mushroom on a deeply appetizing nose. The palate displays a fine mineral/cut-rock character. It’s much more about nervy acid and earthy flavors than overt fruit (the fruit that is there: pomegranate and green strawberry). Purity, freshness, transparency: it’s what makes Pinot Pinot.

This is going to be our summer house red if our list members leave any for me (I thought I’d tuck away some Brunello bottles on Tuesday; no such luck!). I’ll probably treat it a little like a rosé this summer and give it 30-60 minutes in the fridge before serving. And then as we move into the fall, I’ll serve it at cellar temp and let those savory, truffley notes sing next to all sorts of autumnal, mushroomy meals.

First come first served up to 18 bottles, and the wine will arrive next week, at which point it will be available for pickup or shipping during the spring shipping window.

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