Every bottle has a story

I am not a wine expert, but with each bottle I try and share with friends, I learn more. Wine is an exceptional social drink; it is the marijuana of alcoholic beverages because it must be shared. I seek to share with you my thoughts and experiences as I drink the wine in my closet, as well as my enthusiasm for the finds that come my way and the excellent values that I find. I'd love to hear your thoughts and experiences too, so please share!

Friday, August 12, 2011

When white Burgundy wins

From time to time, as my regular readers know (I am aware there is only a few of you and I thank you all so much!), I pull out a wine from my closet because I sense its time has arrived. Feeling all Orson Wells-like, I was sure that time was arriving for a white Burgundy I had lying in the gloom of my closet. But first some background.

I don’t have an inexhaustible fund for buying and closeting, er, cellaring wine, particularly when that wine cellar is my closet. So I do my best to find what I hope to be outstanding wines at reasonable prices. Burgundy is traditionally known as the premier appellation for Chardonnay when it comes to white wine, but Burgundy is also traditionally known for its price. Some of us may need a guide, a compass to help us know when an inexpensive white Burgundy might be worth buying. And what is an “inexpensive” white Burgundy?

My threshold is about $35. When I see a white Burgundy for that price, my interest is aroused. But it’s not just the price point. Remember the Wall Street Journal wine columnists Dorothy J. Gaiter and John Brecher? They “invented” the classic “Open that bottle night,” a night when you have that special wine lying around and you need an excuse to drink it rather than save it until it spoils. Gaiter and Brecher had some very sound advice when shopping for white Burgundy.

There were two particular appellations in the Burgundy region they suggested as the most consistent, and when you’re looking at prices in the range of $50 and more for white Burgundy, it’s not unusual to pay that much for a rather disappointing wine. But, Gaiter and Brecher guided, if you focused on the appellations of Chassagne-Montrachet and Pugliny-Montrachet, you could hardly go wrong.

That sage advice has guided me with virtually all my purchases of white Burgundy. Granted, I haven’t strictly followed this rule. But as a general guideline, it has served me well. So I was understandably delighted when I found a 2007 Pugliny-Montrachet from the very consistent house of Joseph Drouhin for $30.

This wine had a creamy floral nose with pear and bright citrus. It was delicious with bracing mineral and lime followed by a fresh, clean finish. It was really delightful. I served it with poached cod and it was exceptional. The poaching recipe comes from the pages of some women’s magazine, maybe a Ladies Home Journal or Better Homes & Gardens. The page looks like it was circa 1970. And while the recipe is for poached sole with hollandaise, the preparation works excellently for poaching cod.

It’s pretty simple. Just heat up 2 cups of water with a sliced carrot and sliced celery stalk, add half an onion sliced up (recipe calls for 1 small onion, but most onions these days are fairly large), 1 lemon sliced up, some pepper corns, 2 bay leaves and some fresh parsley or cilantro sprigs. I used cilantro. Also, a teaspoon of salt.

Let this simmer for at least 10 minutes. I actually let mine simmer for about 20 minutes while I prepare other items or enjoy a bit of cheese and crackers with my guests. After this has simmered, remove all the ingredients and discard. Poach the fish in the remaining water covered for about 4 minutes or until the correct doneness, when the fish easily flakes but won’t completely fall apart. Serve the fish with sliced lemon and garnish with more parsley or cilantro. I didn’t bother with the hollandaise.

It was a delicious meal. I rate this wine a 9.5 using my scale at the left.

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