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Alex Gambal Chambolle Musigny Les Amoureuses 2005
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
Chambolle-Musigny represents the charm of the Côte de Nuits district of Burgundy. But you’ll find that term mainly in reference to the vineyards in its southern stretches, which border Clos Vougeot: the Grand Cru of Le Musingy and in part, its neighboring and most exceptional Premier Cru, Les Amoureuses. Some producers argue for the primacy of Les Amoureuses and its eligibility for Grand Cru status given its wines can sometimes surpass other Grands Crus.
Le Musigny ranks on par with the most acclaimed Grands Crus for Pinot noir: Romanée-Conti, La Tâche, Richebourg, Chambertin, and Chambertin-Clos de Bèze. It is also the only Grand Cru in Côte de Nuits for Chardonnay. All of the others are in Côte de Beaune.
This village can in fact claim only two Grands Crus vineyards and—in the context of breaking down the minutiae—they are markedly different. Bonnes-Mares, the other one at the far northern end above the village, bordering Morey-St-Denis, offers power, strength and great aging potential. But Chambolle-Musigny includes a nice handful of exceptional Premiers Crus, as noted above with Les Amoureuses as the finest. Le Fuees and Les Cras are other noteworthy Premiers Crus.
Overall, a top Chambolle-Musigny offers pure aromas of violets, dark cherry and damp earth, coupled with a velvety elegance, supple mid-palate, an abundance of black and red berry, and finesse and power through a long and fine-grained finish.
One of the most finicky yet rewarding grapes to grow, Pinot Noir is a labor of love for many. However, the greatest red wines of Burgundy prove that it is unquestionably worth the effort. In fact, it is the only red variety permitted in Burgundy. Highly reflective of its terroir, Pinot Noir prefers calcareous soils and a cool climate, requires low yields to achieve high quality and demands a lot of attention in the vineyard and winery. It retains even more glory as an important component of Champagne as well as on its own in France’s Loire Valley and Alsace regions. This sensational grape enjoys immense international success, most notably growing in Oregon, California and New Zealand with smaller amounts in Chile, Germany (as Spätburgunder) and Italy (as Pinot Nero).
In the Glass
Pinot Noir is all about red fruit—strawberry, raspberry and cherry with some heftier styles delving into the red or purple plum and in the other direction, red or orange citrus. It is relatively pale in color with soft tannins and a lively acidity. With age (of which the best examples can handle an astounding amount) it can develop hauntingly alluring characteristics of fresh earth, savory spice, dried fruit and truffles.
Pinot’s healthy acidity cuts through the oiliness of pink-fleshed fish like salmon and tuna but its mild mannered tannins give it enough structure to pair with all sorts of poultry: chicken, quail and especially duck. As the namesake wine of Boeuf Bourguignon, Pinot noir has proven it isn’t afraid of beef. California examples work splendidly well with barbecue and Pinot Noir is also vegetarian-friendly—most notably with any dish that features mushrooms.
For administrative purposes, the region of Beaujolais is often included in Burgundy. But it is extremely different in terms of topography, soil and climate, and the important red grape here is ultimately Gamay. Truth be told, there is a tiny amount of Gamay sprinkled around the outlying parts of Burgundy (mainly in Maconnais) but it isn’t allowed with any great significance and certainly not in any Villages or Cru level wines.