Burgundy: Under-the-Radar Bottles
Although the best wines from the most prestigious domaines are hard to find and wildly expensive, there are some lesser-known producers turning out high-quality wines—particularly from the recently released, great 2005 vintage—that are as good as many more famous wines selling for two or three times as much.
2005 Arnaud Ente Meursault La Sève du Clos ($138) Some of the most thrilling white Burgundies I've ever tasted come from this small domaine in the Côte de Beaune. Ente makes a range of spectacular, unfiltered Meursaults. His breathtaking La Sève du Clos, a white made from century-old vines, is complex, layered and so rich it's almost viscous.
2005 Domaine Arlaud Morey-St-Denis 1er Cru Les Ruchots ($75) This rather diminutive domaine makes very small quantities of truly fine Burgundies: There are only 200 cases of this immediately seductive red full of lush, ripe black-cherry fruit.
2005 Patrick Javillier Meursault Les Tillets ($70) Unlike many oak-dominated Meursaults, those from Patrick Javillier are all about purity of flavors, extremely ripe fruit and lots of marrowy texture, as well as notes of butter, cream, preserved lemon, minerals and stone.
2005 Domaine Anne Gros Chambolle-Musigny La Combe d'Orveau ($75) Supple and poised, the fragrant reds of Anne Gros really seem to have a feminine touch. This polished red comes from a vineyard too high on the slope to be part of the grand cru but may owe its fresh character to its location—once deemed too cool to merit classification.
2005 Domaine Robert Arnoux Vosne-Romanée ($96) I could spend an entire evening simply swirling and sniffing this beautiful red from the highly regarded Robert Arnoux. It's all black pepper, white pepper, mingled fruit and licorice. On the palate, it's equally fine—subtle yet racy.
2005 Domaine Coche-Bizouard Meursault Les Chevalièrs ($45) Finesse is the byword at this rising star of a domaine, from impressive Monthélies to excellent Meursaults, notably the concentrated, crystalline Les Chevalières white from the superb 2005 vintage.
2004 Domaine Georges Mugneret Nuits-St-Georges 1er Cru Les Chaignots ($93) This nuanced red weaves flavors of plum and earth with only lightly oaky notes. And you can drink it now, while waiting for the domaine's splendid 2005s from parcels in Vosne-Romanée, Chambolle-Musigny, Gevrey-Chambertin and Clos de Vougeot to mature.
2005 Domaine de la Pousse d'Or Volnay 1er Cru En Caillerets Clos de 60 Ouvrées ($90) Patrick Landange bought this famous domaine in 1997 and has been restoring Pousse d'Or to its rightful glory ever since. The Clos de 60 Ouvrées is a cru within a cru in Volnay, and the ripe, luscious 2005 has a lot of up-front charm, but also depth and complexity.
2003 Jayer-Gilles Nuits-St-Georges 1er Cru Les Damodes ($115) Plush and blueberry-scented, this is a supreme example of a terroir-driven wine from the talented Nuits- St-Georges producer Jayer-Gilles. Although Jayer-Gilles is sometimes accused of producing excessively oaky reds, this one is a perfect balance between oak and fruit—succulent, fresh and elegant, even in the hot 2003 vintage.
2005 Jérôme Galeyrand Bonnes Mares ($200) This dynamic young vigneron (whose first harvest was only in 2002) seems to have really hit his stride with the outstanding 2005 vintage. Rich, fresh and ultrapure, this Bonnes Mares is an exemplar of Galeyrand's extensive range of reds, all of which are unfined, unfiltered and actually bottled according to the phases of the moon.