Melon de Bourgogne de Bourgogne (a sunday night dinner post)
It’s always mildly depressing to read wine writers who should know better write things like “there are two grapes allowed in Burgundy, one white, one red” or “champagne must be made from only three grape varieties.” Of course the reasons for doing this are clear from an editing standpoint, but my point still stands. Explaining barely planted champagne varieties no one has ever heard of requiring even more explanation or trying to fit St. Bris into a snippet on Burgundy is perhaps too much information for the casual consumer, but perhaps this reductivist thinking is part of what led to the global branding of a very limited number of grape varieties.
Melon de Bourgogne actually made in Burgundy is one of these topics that even wine books with some depth pass over easily. Sure aligote makes kir so it can be included as an aside, sauvignon blanc is mass market friendly so maybe we’ll include it, people have heard of pinot blan and pinot grisc (or at least it sounds as though they have because of the “pinot”), and gamay is fun enough to mention, but tiny plantations of melon de bourgogne?
Now, if you’re a long time reader and hence probably a wine geek, you know that melon de bourgogne is most famous outside of Burgundy, all the way over in Muscadet where it is the only grape used in the famed white from that region (in my experience there are a great many people who believe that “muscadet” is a grape, and that it is related to, or actually is, muscat. Try explaining to people that muscadet is not sweet, nor aromatic). In 1709 a great frost hit France and killed off almost every vineyard in Muscadet (along with thousands of people in Europe) which were then replanted with melon de bourgogne because of it’s noted heartiness in the face of extreme cold. At some point (i can’t find the exact date, so if you’re Claude Kolm, help) melon de bourgogne was banned from the region that gave it it’s eponym because of god knows why but probably somebody influential hated it.
Some 300 years later French vignerons interested in getting back to truly terroir driven wines started to replant melon in Burgundy, mostly in the small region Bourgogne de Vēzelay (thanks to Wikipedia on this one), to see perhaps why it was originally planted there. One such wine is Domaine de la Cadette “Melon” made entirely from the grape. On sunday, having just visited the Kermit Lynch shop in Berkeley, i popped open a bottle of this with some summer squash, chorizo, and tuscan bread soup.
Now, of course, the question will be how was the wine vis-a-vis muscadet, the only reference point for this. i should take the cheater’s way out and say “muscadet by way of burgundy” which tells you nothing while seeming like it does. The two wines are entirely similiar in that snappy, salty way that makes people drown themselves in oysters and muscadet. There are no obvious clues as to how much difference there is (granted this is my only experience, but if the pros can toss out nonsensical scores based on 3 seconds of a wine, i feel me sipping a bottle for hours is good enough) between two. If you pegged the wine as Muscadet (albeit a fat muscadet, but not outside the range) i would have no problem with that.
i’m going to go ahead and declare this “the summer of Burgundian muscadets” i liked this wine so much. of course this means so far i’m limited to this one wine.