2012 Macon-Burgy From Domaine Saint Barbe

One of the many great things about working for a company like TWH is that we get the opportunity to experience some unusual, off-the-beaten-path, wine-geek-wines every now and then.  The Clairet de Bordeaux from last year comes to mind; then there’s the Beaujolais Blanc from a couple of years ago; or more recently, a handful of wines from central Europe and the Balkans. What makes a wine a “wine-geek” wine? There are no rules – but low production, lesser known grape varietals, or perhaps familiar varietals from unusual terroirs qualify. What we have here is the latter. What we have here is a red Mâcon. Wait. Aren’t Mâconnais wines made from Chardonnay? Sure, the white ones are, but red? A little research yields the fact that there are indeed red wines from Mâcon. What’s the grape? Gamay. Introducing the 2012 Mâcon-Burgy from Domaine Sainte Barbe.

Having worked here for several years, my instincts have become spot-on regarding certain facets of our business. I don’t have either the time or patience to list out (and link to our blog) the litany of tres cool wines that David has discovered during his trips to France each year. I do have many memories of our staff gathered around the tasting table after work trying something new to us. When we taste a new wine that could be described as “a winner”, we don’t hold back, the praise is heaped high as we enjoy what’s left in the bottle of the new kid on the block. David is a humble man. Sometimes he may give us a chuckle, but usually just a wry smile and an, “It’s good, right?” The other day, a regular customer friend of David’s came in looking for some Burgundy. I had a lot on my plate so I wasn’t paying close attention, but then I heard him say,
“Now here’s something I found on my last trip. It’s Red Macon. Made from really old-vine Gamay. He only makes a few barrels, and I managed to get one of them! It is amazing; seriously amazing wine (insert proud chuckle).” I’ve been working with David long enough to read that one right. I pride myself on being a man of great patience (though that seems out the window here), but waiting for the next time the entire staff is present in order to maybe taste this wine, I knew, was not going to fly. So I put one on my invoice and popped it in the coldbox for 25 minutes. I poured out a little taste for Anya, Tom, and myself, and it went down something like this.
“Is it worth 27 bucks?”
“Oh, man. It smells amazing.”
“Does it smell like Beaujolais?”
“No. I mean I can sense the Gamay, but there’s so much more.”
“How’s the palate?”
“I don’t know. I’ve been enjoying the nose for 5 minutes now.”
At this point, I gave Tom and Anya their tasting glasses.
“Wow. That smells amazing! Is that not Pinot Noir?”
“No, it’s Gamay.”
“That’s a whole different kind of Gamay than I’ve ever smelled.”
“No kidding. I can smell this all day, in fact I haven’t even tasted it yet, I’ve just been taking in the aromas.”
“That’s-that’s-that’s what I was just saying!!!”
We all went in for a taste.
“That’s lovely. Reminds me a lot of the Clos Marc, you know with those herbal aromas, and the not-so-fruity, dry finish?”
“Yup. I know what you mean. It doesn’t seem to have that carbonic thing that you get with a Beaujolais.”
“Right. It’s not a tutti-fruity straight-forward George DeBoeuf Beaujolais.”
“I like it. I like wines like this. That herbal thing makes it super cool for me.”

Back to our work stations for a little research, and it was revealed that the vines this wine was sourced from were up to 80 years old! Contrary to my observation, as is custom in Mâcon, the wine underwent carbonic maceration.  There is some complex, ripe cherry fruit in the aromatics, but it falls back in line with the structure of the wine on the palate resulting in a fresh, zippy, non-unctuous fruity finish. Hints of tobacco and forest floor hover in the distance. All in all, it’s another winner, courtesy of David’s most recent prospecting trip to Burgundy!

Did I mention there was a lot on my plate? Yes, there is. I’m done whining about it. We are all super excited about our new 2012 Mâcon-Burgy from Domaine Sainte Barbe.  After having survived the recent heatwave, I thought it proper to make my selection of the week a red wine. A red wine that one could put a little chill on and enjoy on a warm day/evening. Did I mention it was only 12.5% alcohol? Yes, c’est vrai. You don’t see many Mâcon Rouges out there, fewer that are imported into California; embrace your inner wine-geek and give the Sainte Barbe Mâcon-Burgy a shot. – Peter Zavialoff

Please feel free to email me with any questions or comments about Gamay, wine-geek wines, Bordeaux, what to do now that footy season is over, or the band’s new album’s release date: peter.winehouse@sbcglobal.net

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Filed under Barbecue Wine, Gamay, Macon, Peter Zavialoff

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