Real quality on the outer reaches of Burgundy

Stephen Taylor (on right) with Pascal & Veronique Therain

When we think of Burgundy it is almost always the famous names that goes through our mind – names like Gevrey-Chambertin, Nuits-St-Georges, Chablis and Meursault. Sometimes I think this is a pity as there is a wealth of other, less famous areas that are well worth exploring. We are all on the look out for less expensive Burgundy that gives attractive drinking and some of these places provide precisely that.

Less famous than these are the wine districts on the outer reaches of Burgundy; Irancy, St Bris – this village applellation makes only white wines made from Sauvignon Blanc. There is also a host of areas that produce wines labelled up as ‘Bourgogne’ plus the name of their area or village; Bourgogne Côte d’AuxerreBourgogne Côte Saint-Jacques, Bourgogne Coulanges-La-Vineuse can all be worth a try.

I have especially enjoyed some Bourgogne Côte d’Auxerre as well as excellent examples from the higher land, west of the Côte de Nuits and the Côtes de Beaune – the Bourgogne Hautes Côtes de Nuits and Bourgogne Hautes Côtes de Beaune.

The Côte Châlonnaise is a terrific source of good wine with fine red and whites produced in such appellations as Mercurey, Rully and Givry as well as the more everyday overarching appellation of Bourgogne Côte Chalonnaise.

Which brings me on to the area that I want to mention – Bourgogne Côtes-du-Couchois. This is a new appellation found south of the Haute-Côtes de Beaune and a little south west of Santenay, it has only been recognised as a distinct sub-region of Bourgogne since 2000 and even then only for red wines made from Pinot Noir.

Map showing Bourgogne Cotes-du-Couchois just to the west of Mercurey – click for a larger view

I have only ever tasted one example, but it bodes well. I was giving a talk about the burgundy house of Louis Jadot and leading a tasting of their wines in Farnham, Surrey a few months ago when a charming fellow at the back mentioned that he actually owned a Burgundy vineyard and made wine. Well, I don’t know about you, but that sounded really exciting, so we had a little chat and he gave me a bottle of his 2008 wine to try – this is the first vintage by the way.

His name is Stephen Taylor and together with local winemaker Pascal Therain he organically farms a tiny vineyard in the village of Saint-Sernin-du-Plain in Bourgogne Côtes-du-Couchois. At just over half an acre this is a small estate that takes just one day to harvest by hand and the total production is around a thousand bottles – although I should point out that the entire appellation can only boast around 14 acres.

It is a real labour of love and Stephen tells us a little about how his wine is made here:

2008 Le Clos de Saint-Sernin
Bourgogne Cotes-du-Couchois

Medium intensity of colour, not too pale, lovely bright red fruit hue.
The nose is also bright and attractive, full of strawberry and raspberry and cherry fruit with a touch of savoury mushroom lurking underneath.
Richer than most wines labelled as Bourgogne, the earthy characters really come through, as does red cherry acidity and clean, chalky tannins. The bright red fruit really shows on the palate too, in balance with the acids and tannin.

The overall effect is a delicious wine offering lovely red fruit, that is silky and elegant with a pretty long richly raspberry finish – this is a lovely unassuming, enjoyable wine that would partner charcuterie and casserole to perfection. I think it showed the lovely attractive upfront 2008 style very well – 89/100 points.

So, it seems that even in the least famous parts of Burgundy people are striving to produce wines of great quality that are extremely enjoyable.

More information is available by emailing the estate:

You can enjoy the wine at The Dew Pond Restaurant near Newbury, Berkshire.

6 thoughts on “Real quality on the outer reaches of Burgundy

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