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An Ode to Burgundy – A Burgeoning Love

As a young man in the wine trade, my first love was always Bordeaux. There was a magic and mystique to the famous Chateau and vineyards that really hit a note with my romantic nature. The wines, of course, were almost a bonus: the joy of an aged Growth Claret had been one of the treats of the year growing up. At Christmas the old man would pull out a gem or two from his cellar and indulgently allow my sister and I the tiniest of sips.

Moving into my first “proper” wine job with Jeroboams, I had maintained this passion and love of Bordeaux, nurturing it to an almost partisan attitude to all other wine regions. “What could they offer versus the magic of Growth Claret?” I would utter as I gazed in wonder at the prices and various producers from Burgundy in particular. I was also baffled by the variety and complexity of the names of the villages and the producers: “how was one to know, what was what, and who was who.” The beauty of Bordeaux to my younger self had been the ease of recognition. After all, there are only a very few villages and always a Chateau name to remember. More so, there was the safety net of knowing the wines would be robust, powerful, elegant in some cases and, most importantly, delicious!

When faced with Burgundy, the long, difficult to pronounce village names, as well the sheer number of producers, was simply overwhelming. Where to even begin? Having been brought up by the ABC (Anything But Chardonnay) generation, I never had any interest in the white wines of the region. At home, white wines had been from the Loire with searing acidity and freshness, consumed young in the early evenings of summer as a refreshing aperitif. Or, on other occasions, Champagne cocktails and G & T’s had been the norm.

And so to the moment that changed everything. Back in 2010, when I was working as an Assistant Manager at our Elizabeth Street store, we had a fantastic young Burgundy native working with us as a sales assistant. Fortunately for me, his parents also owned a domaine in the heartland of my nemesis. After a few weeks working together, Lois had noticed that when I purchased a wine for home, I would never step towards the Burgundy shelves. Fortunately, as it transpired for me, he took this an affront (in a very nice way) to his homeland and made it his mission to educate me on all the good things that came from his corner of the wine world.

The journey from rank amateur, with regard to Burgundy white wines, to where I am today, sitting as manager of Jeroboams Elizabeth Street with what I can only say is an (healthy) obsession with white Burgundy, has been a joy from the off! The variety of styles, both from the terroir to the producers has never failed to peak my imagination. Every village and producer seem capable of drawing some different flavour or texture into the wine from their harvests. From the rich and oh so complex wines of the Cote d’or (the Meursault and Montrachet villages in particular) to the stunning cooler climate wines of Chablis, with that searing acidity I remember so well from my youth. However, in Chablis there is glorious fullness to the wines that one just cannot find in the Loire. Even in the fantastic value wines from the Macon, which are easy on the purse, they retain a definite character and pedigree that could only be Burgundian. I am hooked, and forever shall be.

Granville Murray, Manager, Elizabeth Street