Drink It Up: The Thrifty White Burgundy Alternative
Paul Einbund is the wine director of the Slanted Door restaurant group. He's also worked as the sommelier at Frances, Coi and more. Look for him here every Tuesday. Follow him on Twitter @pauleinbund.
Saint Aubin is a small village in Burgundy, France. The Chardonnay produced here has been good, but is now great, and what’s even better, it's not too expensive. Let’s define ‘not too expensive’: White Burgundy covers a lot of range price-wise, from entry bottles at $20 all the way up to some of the world’s best wines like Domaine de la Romanee Conti’s Montrachet at $3000—per bottle! At $40, Saint Aubin represents great value in that it tastes similar to the wines that cost more like $80 and up.
My wife and I had a rare experience the other night when we finished an entire bottle of Pierre-Yves Colin-Morey Saint Aubin Le Banc 2008 … rather quickly. We drink a lot of wine, I’m not gonna pretend otherwise, but this bottle disappeared particularly fast. I think it’s a combination of the intellectual and the pleasurable (and the price).
White Burgundy can be the most rich of drinking experiences. Usually the wines in this region have flavors unique to the wine world—fresh cream or buttermilk, figs and melons, meadow flowers and huge amounts of minerality. Often I like to save these wines for a special meal but the wines of Saint Aubin are for drinking when you’re thirsty.
While drinking the Saint Aubin I speak of, one part of my brain stopped to think about drinking fresh buttermilk, made by my cheesemaker friend at Andante Dairy, while looking out of the window at the rolling grassy hillsides sprung with wild flowers and birds swirling around in the sky. Another part of my brain just swallowed gulps of fresh, weighty, soft Chardonnay that carried a little warming sensation as it flowed all too easily down my throat. The other section of my brain got its kicks knowing that all of these thoughts were coming from a bottle of wine that I am going to be pouring by the glass at Out The Door on Bush St. for $14 a glass. That seems like a great experience per dollar ratio to me.
The village of Saint Aubin is located up the hill from some of the best vineyards in Burgundy. My favorite vineyard, En Remilly, is on the border of Puligny-Montrachet and Chassagne-Montrachet, but on the Saint Aubin side. Because of its location, these wines are considerably less then we can its better-known neighbors. If I was asked to blind taste the wines of Saint Aubin along-side wines from Puligny-Montrachet and Chassagne-Montrachet, I would call the ones from Saint Aubin a little fatter or softer or perhaps just easier to drink.
Saint Aubin En Remilly Pierre-Yves Colin-Morey 2008 ($40) at Wine Club San Francisco.
Philippe Colin Saint Aubin Les Combes 2006 ($30) at K&L.
Marc Colin Saint Aubin Sur Le Sentier Du Clou 2007 ($38) at Ferry Plaza Wine Merchant