Maison L'Envoye Savigny-les-Beaune Premier Cru Les Marconnets 2011
Driven by a tireless hunt for elusive sites where Pinot Noir shines, Maison L'Envoyé traverses the globe with the intention of presenting the acme of regionality and winemaking styles. Originating in Burgundy, they pursued gilded terroir to craft this region's wine trinity: Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Gamay Noir. Yet from this tenor of focus and commitment a global fellowship emerged, with terroir-driven Pinot Noir as the linchpin. Now, with winemaking footprints in Burgundy, Willamette Valley, Tasmania and Central Otago, Maison L'Envoyé champions many unsung growers who have farmed their vineyards for decades and generations, some mere feet away from more illustriously cited neighbors. This project has been a standout since its debut in 2011 including Wine & Spirits naming Maison L'Envoyé a 'Winery To Watch' in 2015.
Savigny-lès-Beaune is a small village near Beaune that produces delightful red and white wines under its own appellation name. Cut by a river, the vineyards on its southern side have sandy soils that result in charming, floral reds. Premiers Crus vineyards on this side include Les Peuillets, Les Narbantons, Les Rouvrettes and Les Marconnets.
On Savigny’s northern side, bordering Pernand-Vergelles, vineyards are planted on rocky soils and produce juicy and spicy Pinot noir. The village’s best whites, all made of Chardonnay, are full on the palate and abound in texture, complexity and freshness.
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.