Spotlight on Red Burgundy: Ghislaine Barthod Chambolle-Musigny 2008
Barthod’s Chambolle has an expressive urgency that distinguishes it from most other Burgundies. There is a vitality to the wines that puts presence ahead of reflection. Like the vibrant colours of cherry blossoms, a Chambolle from Barthod is immediately beautiful and symbolic of life’s essential fragility. She is for many the village’s greatest interpreter.
In contrast to the vitality of the wines, the soils of Chambolle are impoverished, all rough limestone and little to no clay. The village lies in a narrow valley through which cool air flows and regulates temperature to give the wines made here an incredible, lifted fragrance.
For Barthod, who makes no Grand Cru wines but nine premier crus and this village wine, Chambolle is a vessel for climat distinction. She makes all her wines the same way: gentle cold pre-maceration, full destemming, natural yeast ferments in open-top wooden vats and aging in barrique (25% new) for 12-18 months.
Ghislaine is also one of the few female owners and winemakers in Burgundy, though she is in good company with Anne Leflaive of Domaine Leflaive and Lalou Bize-Leroy of DRC and Domaine Leroy.
The wine itself pours light and pretty and boasts a wonderful floral nose with herbs and cherry. This is quite expressive as you’d expect for Chambolle. The palate gives cherry, savoury earth and herb. At this point, the wine has a very dry, almost tough, finish. The classic paradox of Chambolle is its total presence and openness, but underlying texture and structure. These wines can be off-putting for those used to fleshier styles, such as Nuits St. Georges or Vosne. Along those lines, this village wine is very good but skirts just on the right side of ripeness, focusing on stunning aromatics more than fat. As you’d expect for a village wine, this is lacking some body and the structure of better Burgundy, but it is a fine, enjoyable entry level Chambolle as fragile in presence but indelible in impression as Vancouver’s cherry blossoms. It also happened to be great with rack of berkshire pork rubbed with fennel salt and garlic.
$65 at Marquis Wine Cellars