Finally some good news in the midst of an ongoing Chicago winter and sheltering-in-place: Burgundy wines under $35 delivered right to your doorstep! The mere mention of Burgundy has long evoked wistful sighs and murmurs of anticipation but these ethereal wines are often out-of-reach or generally inaccessible due to price and availability. Elden Selections hopes to change all that with their online Burgundy-specific wine shop.
Elden Selections focuses on Burgundies that are small-production and estate-bottled all delivered right to your door (shipping included). Always on the lookout for hidden gems, they also strive to have 30 Burgundies available that are under a $35 price point. Ranging from Region and Village-designated wines to Grand Crus, there are higher-priced wines available too, but anyone who has looked for a good Pinot Noir from anywhere in the world (let alone Burgundy) knows that $35 is quite an achievement for this very finicky grape.
I recently had the pleasure of getting to try out Elden Selections’ website as well as to taste a lovely sampling of 6 of their wines. The website itself is very straightforward and offers a thorough but abbreviated primer on Burgundy including its regions, geology, quality designations, and even how to read a Burgundy label. Given how confusing Burgundy can be, this site offers a wonderfully approachable way to start learning about it as well as to taste some of the various regions at more palatable price points.
My first question was how Elden Selections picks their wines and at these price points? Owners Eleanor Garvin and Dennis Sherman have lived in Burgundy for the past 30 years and have established relationships with local producers whom they like and respect. Living there enables them to become fully immersed in each harvest so they are truly “hands on the grape” as they select the wines that become available to us as consumers.
The wine selection process begins before harvest as Eleanor and Dennis observe the year’s weather and vintage conditions. Next, wines are sampled in their respective grower’s cellar before bottling and then again once bottled. The wines are then taken back to Elden Selections and tasted in private and with friends. If everyone still loves the wine, it becomes one of their offerings (often not available in the U.S.) that we get to experience as well.
I happily made my way through 6 sample bottles (three whites and three reds), all interesting and diverse in their own ways. One of my favorites was the 2015 Domaine Mouton, Givry 1er Cru, Clos Jus ($52) from the Côte Chalonnaise. Tasting of dried cranberry and dusty herbs laced with earthy tobacco whiffs, vibrant acidity backed fine-grained tannins on the lingering savory finish. I loved it just to drink alone but it really came into its own with Filet Mignon.
The 2016 Domaine Jean Fery, Pernand-Vergelesses 1er Cru ($69) from the Côte de Beaune was a more black-fruited expression. From the excellent but challenging 2016 vintage, this wine comes from the Savigny valley on east-facing, iron-rich slopes. Blackcurrant, clove, and black pepper notes cascaded through the long spicy finish. Incidentally, Domaine Jean Fery has also been a biodynamic vineyard since 2006.
The last red, the 2014 Domaine de Suremain, Château de Monthelie ($52) was from the Côte de Beaune and produced from 4 different parcels of vines. Black cherry, leather, and forest floor notes hallmark this elegant and complex wine with many more years coiled in it.
The white wines were also terrific. The 2016 Château Cary Potet, Montagny 1er Cru “Les Burnins” ($42) was from the Côte Chalonnaise. Montagny is known for its terrific White Burgundy and this wine was a perfect example of that. Montagny’s southerly location typically yields excellent grape ripeness and this round wine tasted of fragrant orange blossom interlaced with stony minerality. A year in French oak added a hint of smoke, spice, and a complex textured mouthfeel. Lively acidity complimented the rich finish peppered with slight butter notes.
The 2016 Jean Dauvissat Père et Fils, Chablis ($34), from the left bank of the Serein River, tasted of mouthwatering lemon drops and orange peel. Scintillating mineral and mushroom notes accompanied tingly acidity through the long linear finish. A lovely expression of Chablis which can be one of the most delightful white wines around with its chalky minerality and trademark acidity.
While 85% of Savigny produces red wine, the white wines from this area can produce beautiful wine with nervy minerality. The 2017 Domaine Jean Jacques-Girard, Savigny les Beaune tasted of ripe red apples, sweet spice, and fresh saline notes. Zesty acidity and a pleasantly supple mouthfeel rounded out the intertwined fruit and earthy flavors.
Once you’ve made it through the wines, there is also a tantalizing collection of recipes on the website ranging from Beef Bourgoignon and Venetian Pea Risotto to Fresh Apricot and Pistachio Cake.
And if you’re in the day-dreaming mood, once the world re-opens, Elden Selections has a luxury manor house with 6 en-suite rooms at Domaine de Cromey, located just south of Beaune, France. They also have their own wine school, Wine School at Cromey if you want to take your Burgundy knowledge to the next level. In the meantime, definitely check out Elden Selections and take advantage of getting some wonderful new (and affordable) wines delivered right to your door.
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