Burgundy is known to be complex. There is the Côte de Nuits, the Côte de Beaune, there are myriad appellations (Nuits-Saint-Georges, Vosne-Romanee, etc.) and almost countless different vineyards (La Colombiere, Les Petits Monts, Richebourg, et.al.). Add to this the different producers making wines from the different plots and the complexity becomes truly mind-boggling.
Yet we have one of the most important influences on hedonistic joy left largely unexamined by journalists and experts: the rootstock and – especially – the clone or massal selection used to make the individual wine. This can be one, or a combination of two or even more versions of pinot.
The level of complexity is endless, but in reality, this can explain in part why some wines and plots give tremendous hedonistic experiences.
The clone or massal selection is one of the most important factors in defining a wine and giving it hedonistic joy and intensity.
When I taste, I find patterns in the wine that are clear indications that my enjoyment and hedonistic joy are influenced by the pinot “version” used in the vineyard. This influences the rating, and especially the hedonistic evaluation (the Winehog hearts).
Take Domaine Marchand-Tawse: It has in some wines a massal selection from the Maume estate in Gevrey-Chambertin, and this version of pinot gives a more hedonistically joyful representation of the terroirs. The wines are different, and they show another expression of the pinot grape, apparently sometimes even more defining than the terroir.
The clone or pinot version can be more important than terroir regarding hedonistic satisfaction.
Now we are getting risky, as we have been told time and again that terroir is “everything.” Yet I assert that the type of pinot grown can have an equal – or even greater – influence on hedonistic joy.
This is quite a bold assertion. But thinking of the Vosne Clos du Chateau from Domaine Liger-Belair, this makes sense, as I find the hedonistic glory of this cuvee to outshine many bigger wines – including bigger wines from Liger-Belair. For me, this could be called the Pinot Droit effect.
It is in the end a very bold claim, and despite my bravado, most likely not true, as I do believe that terroir is always king, meaning that a great terroir can compensate for a less-than-optimal version of the grape.
And so what?
Adding a new layer of complexity is not going to help. Or will it? In reality, this adds a new piece to the information puzzle behind the x-factor that makes some wines desirable and the objects of lust for real connoisseurs. By that I mean the people who buy the wines for hedonistic pleasure, and are not just label-chasers.
Label chasers? Or hedonistic drinkers?
If you can pay for a wine, you deserve it. Sadly, the demand for the great treasures of Burgundy is driving their prices up catastrophically and making them visible to the worst kind of label-chasers. This makes the wines difficult to afford for real connoisseurs who knew the wine before it got hyped.
This is how it is. It is also why it’s important to follow the vin d’emotion ratings on this platform; they will tell the full story, for example, why a 91-point village wine is more desirable than a 93-point grand cru.
Plant more Pinot Droit and massal selection?
As always, there are no simple answers in Burgundy. It takes 20 years or more to establish new grapes on a plot, and it takes perhaps 50 years to get them into perfect condition. So replanting is not a viable solution in the short run. But in the long run, people should perhaps think differently when they replant.
In the short term, it is important to discover and support the special plots where you find the hedonistic treasures.