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With the weather finally feeling like autumn, our thoughts turn to the pleasures of the fireside and the table. While we love the warmth and bounty of summer, this time of year inspires up to cook up heartier fare. Now's the time for wild mushrooms, game, roasts, and braises, whose earthy complex flavors call for equally soul-satisfying wines. It is Burgundy we crave: intoxicatingly perfumed, yet so rooted in soil, pure in fruit, incomparably savory. Below are a number of our favorites from the 2014 vintage, with some just-released wines from 2013. Cheers! John McIlwain
From vines averaging 40 years old from the lieux-dits Bussières, Chardannes, Les Herbues and Les Gamaires. Certified biodynamic. Domaine Arlaud's 2014 Chambolle-Musigny shows plenty of high-toned red fruit on the nose with aromas of pomegranate, wild cherry, and strawberry with hints of wood smoke and floral notes. On the sappy, mid-weight palate, pure red fruit flavors are underlain by a pungent chalky minerality which persists through on the long, fresh, tangy finish. This is classically Chambolle: stylish and pretty with good depth. Give this 3-5 years and enjoy for the next 10-15. John McIlwain
From vines in biodynamic conversion in the Aux Communes lieu-dit, in the village beneath Clos des Reas. The 2014 Cyprien Arlaud Vosne-Romanee shows lovely aromas of roses and red and blue fruit on and exotically perfumed nose. The palate offers layers of wild cherry, strawberry, plum, and spice framed by elegant tannins and buoying acidity. This is fresh and stylish and drinks quite well with time in the decanter, but has the stuffing for mid-term aging. Enjoy with grilled duck breast or roasted chicken and mushrooms. John McIlwain
Maybe not a bruiser, but what a beauty! Wild strawberry, pomegranate, brown spices, super-pretty red fruits, herbal hints. Mid-weight palate, bright acid, luminous fruit, good volume and persistence on the finish-not just a little bit of that classic Burgundy peacock's tail. John McIlwain
Bize 2014 Bourgogne Rouge Les Perrières from vines located above Pernand-Vegelesses planted in 1971 and 1974. Stony, dark fruited, hints of spice, damp earth, bright acidity, savory herb notes, appropriately mineral, good concentration. Still a bit circumspect initially, but maintains a nice balance of structural and fruity elements. Not exactly plush at the moment, but the frank earthiness is compelling. Very pretty after an hour of air. Decant now or hold for 2-5 years when things should blossom. There's plenty here for a Bourgogne and I like the energy and mineral character. John McIlwain
From vines planted in 1939, 1950, 1979 in the limestone and red clays and gravels beneath les Lavières. The Aux Grands Liards is bit muted upon opening, but with 2 hours in the decanter lovely fruit and pungent soil aromas emerge. Aromatically the wine is perfumed and quite pretty with aromas of wild strawberry, red currant, black tea, and brambles. Fine strawberry and mineral flavors build on the mid-weight palate and carry over on an admirably long finish. This is a fine and satisfying Savigny-Les-Beaune and recommended for mid to long-term cellaring. Decant early or hold 3-5 years to allow elements to integrate. John McIlwain
From 8 lieux-dits from across Gevrey-Chambertin. Considering the escalation in prices at all levels in Burgundy, Louis Boillot's Gevrey-Chambertin remains a fantastic value, brimming with Gevrey character, while remaining affordable. The 2014 is heady, fresh, and cool-toned on the nose offering black cherry, plum skin, raspberry, game and woodsmoke aromas. Dark-fruited and savory flavors intermingle on the medium-bodied palate, with ripe notes of black cherry, hedge fruit, cherry pit, and crushed herbs. There is good mineral detail to this lending a sapid counterpoint to the fruit. Nice freshness here with fine structure lending an earthy, masculine Gevrey character. This punches above its weight and should reward 4-5 years of cellaring and drink beautifully for the next 10. John McIlwain
From a .19 hectare plot beneath the Combe de Lavaux, Champonnet is the coolest of Louis Boillot's parcels. The 2014 Champonnet is effusively perfumed with complex floral and dark fruit aromas in addition to hints of grilled meat and cocoa bean. The palate is stony and grippy, with pungent earth notes dominating, followed by dark fruit flavors of black raspberry, black currant, and cassis. Still more layers of fruit and soil notes are revealed on the tangy, long, suave, detailed finish. It will take a few years in the cellar for this to integrate, but this should age beautifully. John McIlwain
A touch of reduction on opening. An hour in the decanter reveals black cherry, black fruits, spices, and a kiss of anise on the nose. Not quite silken but softly textured, with ripe tannins and acid bringing up the finish. More blue-fruited on the palate with a good bit of earth just beneath the pretty fruit and spice. Soil notes become more prominent on second day as wine builds in weight and complexity. Very Vosne, if not flamboyantly so. This should be a compelling mid-weight Vosne with 5-6 years in the cellar. John McIlwain