|Lighter,more feminine reds|
There’s a common misperception in the wine world that a darker and more full-bodied red wine is better than a lighter red wine. Nonsense. Some red wine grapes are naturally lighter in color and have thinner skins that result in lighter wines. A perfect example is a young Pinot Noir from Burgundy. While some premier cru and grand cru Burgundy reds may be darker and heavier, the young AOC or Villages level Burgundies are delightfully light and even better, much more affordable than cru level wines. The style of these wines is light, lively and stylish making them some of the most feminine of red wines.
I often encourage people who prefer white wines to try a young Burgundy red wine. Many of the qualities that they love in a good white wine are also found in a young Burgundy red wine, specifically a light body, lively and fresh fruitiness and good acidity that makes the wines appealingly fresh on the palate. These wines will not overpower you or your meal with excessive concentration or tannins. There’s a time and place for big tannic red wines, but there are so many instances when a lighter red is better. Let’s take a closer look.
The basic Burgundy red wine is often called Bourgogne AOC or Bourgogne Pinot Noir AOC. These reasonably priced wines are made with Pinot Noir grapes that can come from anywhere within Burgundy. They tend to be the lightest and most affordable of red Burgundies and wonderful companions to lighter foods and snacks or can even be enjoyed by themselves. A step up in classification is a Villages level red Burgundy. These wines are also 100% Pinot Noir but come from a specific area in Burgundy. Though slightly more concentrated and complex than the Bourgogne AOC reds, most these wines are still quite light and fresh.
Both Bourgogne AOC and Villages level Burgundy red wines are wonderful companions to subtle flavored, not too spicy Chinese meals where all types of dishes including fish are served. They pair well with fish because of their good acidity and low iron content acting in a similar fashion as white wine. As I’ve written in previous columns, the acidity in wines wakens up and highlights the natural sweetness and freshness of fish. I often serve young Burgundy reds with Cantonese and Taiwanese dishes as the freshness of the wines accentuates the freshness of the ingredients and delicate flavors of the dishes while also adding an overall elegance to the meal.
Because these red wines are light charmers rather than age-worthy heavyweights, it’s best to enjoy them relatively young. In general, I recommend wines no older than five years as they retain their lively fruitiness and youthful exuberance. It’s also important to chill the wines before serving. An ideal serving temperature is about 14-15 C. Once poured, the temperature of the wine will rise and attractive aromas and flavors will unfold from the glass; however, once the temperature exceeds 18-20C the wine will lose its vibrancy, taste overly acidic with heightened sensations of alcohol. Just remember that these style young ladies like to be chilled.
In Shanghai, you can find very nice AOC and Villages level Burgundy reds from top producers like Loius Jadot and Joseph Drouhin. Both producers are among the biggest and best producers of Burgundy wines. The highly acclaimed producer Maison Leroy also has Bourgogne Red AOC that’s more pricy but well worth a try. So if you thought that the term deliciously light red wine was an oxymoron, one sip of these stylish Burgundies will forever change your mind.
Louis Jadot, Bourgogne AOC, 2007
“the entry level Pinot Noir from Louis Jadot, the wine features a ruby-garnet red color, plentiful scents of ripe cherries and pleasant strawberry and raspberry flavors and a pleasingly clean, slightly acidic finish”
Luois Jadot, Cote du Beaune Villages AOC, 2007
“one of the better Villages level red Burgundies, the wine has a bright ruby red color, lively nose of cherries and other red fruits and plenty of ripe wild berry flavors and a soft slightly tannic finish”
Maison Leroy, Bourgogne Red AOC, 2001
“an exception among Bourgogne AOC wines as this wine benefits from some aging, the 2001 wine has a brick red color, sophisticated nose of strawberries with hints of tobacco and lots of red fruit flavors and pleasingly long finish”
Joseph Drouhin, Laforet Bourgogne Pinot Noir, 2007
“made from grapes from 12 appellations throughout Burgundy, the wine features a ruby-garnet red color, lively nose of red currents and plenty of strawberry and other red fruit flavors with a fine balance between fruitiness and acidity”
Joseph Drouhin, Cotes de Niuts Villages, 2006
“an assemblage of grapes from villages in southern Cotes de Nuits, the wine has a bright ruby red color, aromas of ripe cherries with notes of exotic spices and red berry flavors with good acidity and gentle tannins”