This week's Wine of the Week, the Bourgogne Pinot Noir, Domaine Parent 2008 ($19), might not be a classic Burgundy in the style of a Grand or Premier Cru, but it is undoubtedly the best Bourgogne Pinot Noir I have ever tasted.
The humble Bourgogne designation supposedly represents the lowest, and largest, level in the rigidly stratified world of Burgundy and is applied to wine from vineyards not entitled to loftier appellations.
The problem with Burgundy is that while its greatest wines are magnificent, there is also, unfortunately, an awful lot of mediocre wine at every level.
Conversely it is possible to find lovely wines whose quality far exceeds what one would expect, given their appellation and price. It all depends on the producer.
One such find is this Parent Bourgogne, produced by sisters Anne and Catherine Parent of Domaine Parent Bourgogne in Burgundy's Pommard region. On the nose my first impression is of Pinot Noir's strawberry and rose petal aromas. Beneath this, however, are hints of the earthier elements, wet leaves perhaps, that make great Pinot Noir great, though a wine one rarely encounters at this price.
My curiosity piqued, I asked Anne Parent how she managed to achieve such quality in a humble Bourgogne.
"First, this wine is produced from the flat part of the vineyards in Pommard and Volnay," she said. "And it's very well-known that the quality of the Bourgogne from this area is pretty good compared with wine from some other parts."
And then she and her sister practice rigorous selection. "We do harvest by hand, and we do a very strict sorting of the fruit using two sorting tables."
It's about treating a modest Bourgogne as one would a great one. "My father always considered that you have to look after your Bourgogne Pinot Noir as you do your Corton Grand Cru. It's essential to have the good quality on this first level, because it is the image. Yes."
While hugely appealing now in its youthful fruitiness I suspect the wine will mellow over the next year or so as those earthy elements come to the fore. But don't wait too long, because it is, in reality, nothing more pretentious than a charming and delightful wine for every day drinking.
When to Drink: Now and for the next couple of years
Breathing/Decanting: Half an hour breathing really helps
Food Pairing: Pork dishes, chicken, charcuterie, grilled veggies
Grapes: 100% Pinot Noir