Bruno Clair Marsannay Les Longeroies
The first time I worked in a wine-related job I was helping to organise a big wine competition. Back then, I knew that I liked wine, and actually thought I knew something about it, but my instinct was that good wine really just came from France, possibly Italy, and occasionally Spain. How wrong I was.
Before that job started, I set myself a goal. I thought this would be a great opportunity to get to grips with the complexities of the wines of Burgundy. With all those bottles to taste and sample, wouldn’t it just be an ideal chance to understand the specifics of the different villages and appellations – the tiny nuances of character that define that region? Well, much to my surprise, the producers of top Burgundy are not the biggest supporters of international wine competitions, but the real thrill was that instead I learned about dozens of wine-producing countries that I hadn’t understood were making great wines of world class.
So, I’m still trying to get to grips with all the tiny complexities of Burgundy, but my starting point is that I do love a drop of Pinot Noir. It’s a fickle kind of grape – tough to grow, and awkward to turn into wine, but when it works, it delivers some of the most seductive and charming wines you could hope to taste. I’ve tasted great Pinot from countries as diverse as New Zealand, Australia, Spain, Germany, California – all over the world, but sometimes it just has to come back to Burgundy.
This particular encounter with a bottle took place in Paris. A small restaurant called Mon Vieil Ami on the Ile Saint Louis. It’s not a vegetarian restaurant, but it does put vegetables centre stage. Mostly root vegetables, with a chef from Alsace, but the wine we chose was a red from Burgundy.
If you’re looking for value in Burgundy, then one route is to aim for the less fashionable villages, but always stick to the best producers. We chose a Marsannay – as the most northerly appellation of the Cote de Nuits, it’s so near the top of the Burgundy map that it’s almost a suburb of the city of Dijon.
The producer: Bruno Clair – generally seen as the best producer in Marsannay. I wouldn’t argue with that. The result: an absolutely sublime bottle, with ripe cherry fruit balanced by a soft delicacy and a wonderful, fragrant nose – subtle, soft and special. The test of a great bottle is how long it lasts – this was a slow drinker.
- Richard Ross
Richard Ross started his journalistic career as a radio news reporter on the BBC, latterly on Radio 4’s PM programme, before moving into wine writing. He first wrote for Wine Magazine in 1999, and in its various incarnations since, and became online editor for the magazine, launching its website and a string of other drinks magazine websites since. Always interested in how technology and the online space can deliver smarter and more interesting wine content, Richard is now involved in building and developing the wine content for iPhone apps through APPetise.co.uk. Author of the wine blog, Wine Lines.