Burgundy's reputation for producing ethereal, mineral-laden, slightly smoky Pinot Noir far exceeds the region's tiny size. Acheson loves the cherry-rich 2007 Joseph Roty Bourgogne Rouge. Or try the 2006 Bouchard Bourgogne Rouge.
The Loire valley's subregion of Sancerre produces a wine of the same name made from Sauvignon Blanc; its flavors evoke grapefruit, gooseberry and grass. Acheson favors the citrusy 2008 Vacheron. Another option: the 2009 Michel Girard et Fils.
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Q&A with Hugh Acheson
How did you learn about wine?
When I was young and working at some very good old-school French places, I always talked to the sommelier. I started socking away money to buy wine, and the next thing I knew, I was buying one good bottle with every paycheck. Wine is like food; it's a never-ending topic.
How does knowing about wine help you as a chef?
I eventually realized that wine can be 30 percent of the tab at a restaurant. As a business owner, I figured I should know something about it.
How has your palate changed over the years?
When I first got into wine, I really liked Shiraz from Australia. I'm not saying that Shiraz isn't great, but it's a blanket over food, covering it all up. Back then, if I had tasted a Charmes Chambertin (a grand cru Burgundy), the wine's subtlety probably would have been lost on me. But now, I get why people go crazy over wines like that.