I have had alot of good luck with Cali Pinot recently

Maybe I am just more pre conditioned to liking new world wines or they are made for more immediate gratification, I dont know but I have had much more enjoyable experiences with some CA Pinot like Rhys Alessia, Sojourn, Foley in the $40 and under category than I have had with similar priced burgundies like Drohuin,Jadot for example.

My impression is that there is great value in CA Pinot these days more so than Burg where it seems to me that you really need to step it up in price to get to the very good Burgs. It seems so much easier to zero in on the very good CA Pinot than trying to navigate Burgundy. Thoughts?

You raise an interesting question Brian. Just to make sure of the terms of discussion, I take it we are talking about the prices of recent releases or current prices of older wines. If so, I would broadly agree with your conclusion. But I suspect that the answer will vary depending upon the person’s preferences and area of expertise. So I hope that those who are better informed about Burgundy will chime in and state their case.

Thinking back over the past year, I’ve had quite a few excellent Cal Pinots in the $40 and under range. Producers that come to mind include: Rivers Marie, Rhys, Holdredge, Williams Selyem, Big Basin. I’ve been drinking mainly from the 2006 vintage in the past year and have had pretty good luck. It has been harder to find a good Burg in the under $40 range, but there was one last year that for me was as good as any of the Calis: the 2007 de Villaine Les Montots. But that one doesn’t seem to have impressed others who posted notes on Cellartracker as much.

In the $40-75 range, I think the pendulum swings toward Burgundy. It is not hard to find lesser Grand Crus and excellent Premier Crus in that range. It is possible to find some California Pinots that can compete with the best of these in that price range, but if I were trying to quantify things I’d say that the overall volume of pinots produced in California worth spending $40-75 on is significantly less than the volume of similar wines from Burgundy.

Across the entire spectrum (LWC through Siduri, Ketcham, Mount Eden, Rivers-Marie, Kutch, Dehlinger, Windy Oaks, Copain, Rhys and everything in between) I’ve had great luck with California Pinot for many years.

And shockingly lousy luck with Burgundy.

To be fair, it’s partly luck and partly the fact that I work much harder to understand California.

The challenge with lower level red burgs is that they have less dry extract to buffer structure so they are more apt to shut down quicker and require alot of expertly administrated slow-ox to show their best. Plus after their brief childhood they can have a pretty long adolescence where they are a bit boring even with enough air. Because of this high-maintenance quality they are harder to enjoy casually.

So I’d agree that its easier to find a lower maintenance domestic pinot to drink young (assuming once likes the flavor profile) but if you want the potential of aged teriary flavors (and for the most part I do) domestic pinot is a minefield.

The problem for me though is that I am not a huge fan of the body-weight or flavor profile of domestic pinot at any price point so its not really a great source of wines for me. There are some notable exceptions but unfortunately this in general holds true for me. I wish this wasnt the case.

So what are some of the Burgs in the $40 and under range that you are confident will develop these aged tertiary flavors that you like?

Dehlinger is in the $40 range and if you give them time they’ll knock you over with tertiary goodness. I suspect that others will too (Windy Oaks, Rhys and Copain in particular), but I don’t have the history with these to say for sure.

Joeseph Swan
Dehlinger (not the goldridge)
I have faith in Rhys
Mt Eden
I think Holdredge could be a candidate
Porter Creek
Some windy oaks bottlings

These are the ones that come first to mind but Ive been able to come up with a longer list in the past after thinking about it a bit.

You misread my question. I was asking for a list of Burgs (not California Pinots) in the $40 and less range that you were confident would develop the aged tertiary flavors that you like.

Opps, just realized you said burgs and not cali pinot.

This is an easier question to answer. Some may disagree but except in low-ripeness years I think most burgundies have the prerequisute ratio of fruit to structure to age and develop enjoyable wines with teriary complexity. Ive had enough 10 or 15 year old Bourgognes (not to mention many village level) burgs to believe this.

The wines I like to buy in this range though are:

Drouhin Cote de Beaunes
Fourrier village wines
Mugneret-Gibourg bourgogne and village
Faively mercury 1ers
Various Savigny les beaune 1ers
Bouchard Beaune de Chateau 1er
Volany village level

Thats what comes easily to mind. Maybe a bit selfish but there are one or two producers I try and not mention online.


Thanks for the detailed responses. I also think the classification system of Burgs unlike Bordeaux makes it very hard to follow. I suspect that many people in the know, love the obtuseness(if I may butcher the word) of the Burg system, which I am sure rewards people that have done their homework and spent a lot of money and time rooting out the mediocre properties riding on the Burg name. But I find it a bit discouraging on the outside looking in. Sure any idiot with a fat wallet can plonk down $200+ on a great burg but thats not the game for many of us.

I agree with you, it takes alot of intial homework but once you get a feel of which producers you like and when to drink them these wines its rare to be disapointed. Its commonly said that the three most important factors when deciding what to buy in burgundy are: producer, producer amd producer.

One thing I’d add to what Ive said is that there are some people who simply like “bigger” wines and thus don’t really care for the lack of weight in alot of burgs. I can’t say I understand it since lack of weight is what I look for in burgundy but this point of view is legitimate. Someone with this taste preference is usually just going to like higher end 1ers and grand crus since these wines usually have more dry extract. Someone like this is simply going to like most domestic pinots better than the average burgundy no matter how much they taste.