Vezelay: A Well Kept Secret.

1/02/12 -

(Patrick Bringer shows us his very small cellar)

From an tiny village in northern France, this pair of wines, a Bourgogne Blanc and a Bourgogne Rouge, offers an irresistible melding of the known and the new. Complex, accessible, and charming, the wines have a certain classic elegance, a compelling delicacy, an ability to be enjoyable now, yet worthy of a few years in the cellar.  Perhaps it’s an over simplification but these wines are really delicious; you should buy them, drink them, and cellar them. Terrific values, they speak both to lovers of the new, the esoteric, and to lovers of the known, the tried, and the true.

Vezelay is in the Yonne department, south and east of Paris, south and west of the Aube, and en route to Burgundy.  By far the most well-known Yonne wine is Chablis; however the Yonne also features the Sauvignon Blanc appellation of Saint-Bris and the Pinot Noir appellation of Irancy. A well-kept secret, Vezelay lies in the very south of the department and comprises the villages of Asquins and Saint-Pere in addition to Vezelay proper. There are only twenty wine growers in Vezelay and a relatively large percentage of them farm organically. Asquins, where Patrick Bringer of Domaine les Faverelles lives, is an organic village; pesticides are forbidden here. Patrick farms six hectares of vines, roughly half Chardonnay and half Pinot Noir, spread out across the Vezelay appellation. For twenty years before taking up viticulture, he was a bookseller in Paris. His family is from Asquins and his wife is the mayor of the village.

Like Chablis, the soil of Vezelay is heavy in limestone, also red, gray, and blue clay. Bringer’s Chardonnay and Pinot vines are planted at fairly high altitude and the wines, more so in 2010 than in ’09, have delightfully fresh acidity and weigh in at 12% alcohol. The Vezelay Blanc shares some qualities with the Chablis, Sauvignons, and Aligotes of Alice and Olivier de Moor, a sense of cool, green and white orchard fruits, a slight creaminess of texture balanced by a rigid spine of acidity and rocky minerality. The Bourgogne Rouge (there is no appellation for “Vezelay Rouge”) has the tangy, mouth-watering, red berry nature of Loire Valley Pinot but also the sauvage notes of good Cote d’Or Bourgogne Rouge. Both wines see a year of aging in old wood and become more complex with time. 2005 Vezelay Blanc tasted at the Domaine showed the deep, green earthiness of white Burgundy with a few years of age and 2006 Vezelay Rouge was amazingly supple with cranberry, currant, and sumac aromas. These wines are a super find, whether you’re drinking them now or forgetting them in your cellar or wine fridge. -msb   

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