Finding great-value Burgundy, whether it’s the white Chardonnay or the red Pinot Noir, is a hit-or-miss proposition at best. But one that really stands out is Domaine Laroche’s 2017 Bourgogne Chardonnay, a fantastic value at around $21.
Bourgogne, which simply translates to Burgundy, is the more generic, catch-all appellation Burgundy growers must use on their white and red wines when the grapes are from outside the boundaries of more specific, highly demarcated, and often storied appellations such as Meursault or Montrachet.
Although “Bourgogne” wines are generally far less expensive than their counterparts, some of them show well above their status in the Burgundy pecking order, which is the case with Laroche’s Bourgogne Chardonnay.
Everything about it is subtle and balanced — the beautiful fruit notes that evoke pear, green apple, and orange framed by refreshing acidity; touches of cinnamon and nutmeg; and a layer of vanilla that lasts on the finish. This is not a “big” Chardonnay in the sense that many from California tend to be. Alcohol is listed at just 12.5 percent, and the wine is fermented and aged entirely in stainless steel without any exposure to oak.
Like many wines from the Macon, this Chardonnay has a lighter feel. But it’s distinctive and expressive — a perfect aperitif wine that’s made for fish and other lighter dishes.
Wilson-Daniels, the U.S. importer, notes that Laroche began sourcing the majority of the fruit for the 2018 vintage of its Bourgogne Chardonnay from the Chablis area, with the aim of giving the wine more of the mineral character for which Chablis is known. It would be interesting to compare the 2018 with the outstanding 2017 vintage.
Laroche’s wines are bottled with screw cap closures, from the Bourgogne Chardonnay to the Chablis grand cru wines. In 2001, Laroche was the first Burgundy producer to switch to screw caps for all of its wines.