Didier Montechovet “Bourgogne Grand Ordinaire,” 2008

When I first tasted this, the wine intrigued me. Later on, however, getting the details proved an embarrassing moment in my career as a wine drinker. This wine rested in a bin full of standard Burgundy when I bought it, and so of course I assumed that “Bourgogne” meant “Pinot,” as usual. But the bright aromas on the nose and tart palate told me otherwise. I assumed it was just an eccentricity of the wine, however, and treated it as Pinot. A Pinot even lighter than normal, dancing with crisp acidity in the mouth, almost biting, meaner than most. But I knew my stuff! This was normal Burgundy. Definitely.

And then! lo and behold, truth erupted onto the scene when I mentioned the wine to a knowledgeable staff member at Astor Wine & Spirits (where I happened to buy this bottle). She informed me that this was no standard Burgundy (aka, Pinot Noir), but rather was Gamay, the red grape of Beaujolais, in its current incarnation from Didier Montechovet, an oddball producer – working very close to Pommard – whose wines are always brilliantly expressive, if somewhat challenging. The appellation on the label, “Bourgogne Grand Ordinaire,” is a general appellation that is no longer used, with normally very low requirements for wines produced under its category – as the name implies, the wines with “BGO” status are considered very plain compared to AOC wines; however, there is nothing plain about this one.

The 2008 Didier Montechovet Bourgogne “Grand Ordinaire” shows pale brick red in the glass, with a nose packed with cranberry and strawberry aromas tinged with distinct orange peel elements, and a bit of spice and minerality. This in turn rushes into a mouthfeel defined by sharp acidity, especially in the midpalate, balanced to more juicy red berries and mineral; the wine is light-bodied at 10.5% alcohol, with a clean finish. Absolutely the strangest expression of Gamay I have ever encountered, and apparently extraordinarily lean this year; this might be a wine to watch for in the future. $15.

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