Brand chaser or wine lover?

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By: Henry Yuen

They are out there! The self-acclaimed wine aficionados who proudly declare: Bordeaux or nothing!  They are so obsessed with what they call ‘the only drinkable wines’ that they do not even try wines from other regions of France, let alone drinking wines from other countries. There’s really no right or wrong here, but for the sake of wine enjoyment, perhaps your palate deserves gratified varieties acquired from educated, non-biased choosing. I certainly do not want to see Bordeaux taken as labels such as Channel, Gucci, Armani, Benz, BMW and other brand name products and become mere symbols rather than their true virtues.

 No doubt, Bordeaux wines are full of history, tradition and certain characteristics, and because of their limited releases, are in higher demand. True wine lovers appreciate good wines from other regions as they enter the wine world with open, humble minds and the fervid willingness to learn.  They all know other regions and winemakers do and can produce exceptional wines.

 Take a look at Burgundy, for instance.

 I admit not knowing too much about Burgundy and consider myself very fortunate to sit in an educational and palate-opening session, led by decorated wine writer Allen Meadows, the expert in Burgundy wines, recently at Marquis Wine Cellers (1034 Davie Street. www.marquis-wines.com). After tasting a few Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from Burgundy, my overall perception is renewed.

 According to Allen, the three elements to decide wine quality in France are: 80% terrain, 10% viticulture and 10% winemaking. Human interception is usually kept to the minimum.  The growing is left to the land itself which broils down to the soil and weather; and on terrain geography, consequently, wines do naturally vary from one year to another, ergo the vintage talks and ratings. In fact, some Burgundy wines are as pricy as those from Bordeaux because of the very same reason plus one more key factor – expensive land.

Allen explained to the audience the importance of the winemaking process and why certain wines call for decanting and how the supreme quality of the wines can be fully exposed. He also dissected the grape-growing regions, wine making procedures in Burgundy and how the skills of the winemakers could enhance the essence of particular wines. With such valuable knowledge gained on Burgundy wines, I am now walking down the aisle in the wine stores with added confidence and shopping pleasure!

 Those who may want to collect other than Bordeaux wines, take note:

The grapes, according to Mr. Meadows, didn’t do well in 2004 due to less than desirable weather causing infestation in the vineyards. However, the infestation all cleared out and 2005 happened to be a good year.

Whites: The buttery 2007 Domaine Leflaive Chardonnay with a hint of baked apple is well-balanced and has good concentration. The 2006 Domain Droulin Beaune Blanc Chardonnay is intense and elegant with a grassy, earthy nose and a hint of grape fruit and melon on the palate.

 Reds: 2006 Dominique Laurant Cahmbolle-Musigny Pinot Noir has body and depth, as well as an appropriate level of oak.  It is fruit forward with subtle berry flavour and light tannin.    

 The pricy Domaine d’ Eugenie 2007 Pinot Noir ($280 per bottle) is medium-bodied with less alcohol, good acidity and full of dark berries.

 Want to learn more about Burgundy? Want to expand your cellar labels other than Bordeaux, check out Allen Meadows’s website: www.burghound.com