Domaine Gerard Raphet Bourgogne Rouge 2017
Raphet over decades has become the favorite Burgundy of customers and employees alike. They are wines that many feel "speak" especially and directly to them -- not dissimilar to a work of art.
The wine's aromas depart from the traditional Burgundian violets to suggest a potpourri of cinnamon, clove and incense. The wine's light color and fine texture requires studied attention on behalf of the drinker.
The most acclaimed region of Burgundy, the Côte d’Or is defined by a long, limestone escarpment beneath the ground's surface and is home to all of Burgundy’s most famous wines. While Chardonnay and Pinot noir are produced throughout the Côte d’Or, the north tends to excel at Pinot noir and the south, at Chardonnay.
The Côte de Beaune is the center all of the Chardonnay Grands Crus with the exception of Le Musingy, found in Chambolle-Musigny in the Côte de Nuits, which produces both Pinot noir and Chardonnay with Grand Cru status.
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, not Pinot noir. 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 Village or Cru level wines. So "red Burgundy" still necessarily refers to Pinot noir.