A sense of place is everything in wine, but particularly in Burgundy, where the difference of a few feet in the vineyards can alter the final price of the wine by hundreds of dollars. Run your finger along the Côte d’Or on a wine map, and you’ll see a checklist of prestige from top to bottom: Chambertin, Musigny, La Romanée, Corton, and so forth. One name that might not register, unless you are into masonry, is Comblanchien. The small village south of Nuits-Saint-George is better known outside the wine world because of a quarry that resides above town. Reputed for its pinkish color and durability, Comblanchien limestone can be found in flooring, landscaping, swimming pools and even L’Opera in Paris. The wines? Oh they’re good. They just don’t have the prestige.
Antoine Lienhardt is changing that a bit. The Comblanchien-based vigneron has no Grand Cru or Premier Cru wines, and that’s fine by me. It means I can afford Lienhardt’s wine, which are either under the regional Bourgogne appellation, or the Côte de Nuit-Villages appellation for more site-specific wines. (He also produces a single Gevrey-Chambertin Villages wine).
His deft touch with Pinot Noir seems to facilitate the grape’s complexity. While sipping his Côte de Nuits-Villages wine, “Les Plantes Aux Bois,” my pen flew with translation notes of the many and varied tones it was offering my senses. The old-vine plot is on the border between Comblanchien and neighboring village Corgoloin, and it was planted by Lienhardt’s grandfather in the 1960s. Until Antoine inherited them, the grapes were sold off to négociants. Now, following biodynamic and organic practices in the vineyard, he’s forging a reputation all his own, and doing it with Villages-level wines that won’t break the bank.
Given the state of the economy (and our collective desire to keep drinking well while we’re trapped at home), that’s kinda nice, right?
2017 Antoine Lienhardt Côte de Nuits-Villages “Les Plantes Aux Bois”
Côte de Nuits-Villages AOC (Burgundy)
Grapes: Pinot Noir (100%)
Opinion: ★★★★ 3/4 (out of five)
Value: Very Good
Review: A potent and highly aromatic Pinot Noir that proves you don’t need “Grand Cru” or even “1er Cru” on the label to be blow away by Burgundy.
Throughout there are lovely, tart red fruit tones that are open to interpretation: Red currant? Blackberry? Tart cherry? It’s almost beside the point because each whiff, every sip, seems different. Around the edges, the wine’s aromas also recall spring (e.g. peonies) and fall (e.g. autumn leaves) at different intervals. But it is the exuberant acidity, delicate and playful tannins, and fierce minerality on the finish that make this wine so refreshing, enjoyable and impeccably versatile at the table.
Serving suggestion: You cannot go wrong with the classic pairing of this Pinot Noir and a roast chicken. Simple and satisfying in these complicated times.
Note: This wine was provided as a sample by Polaner Selections after a request and story pitch. Learn more about my editorial policy.