“It’s a naive domestic Burgundy without any breeding, but I think you’ll be amused by its presumption,” New Yorker Cartoon Caption, James Thurber. Many true wine fanatics insist that, on their death beds, they will ask for only one final gastronomic treat before punching their time card for the final time – Burgundy. Indeed, many […]

“It’s a naive domestic Burgundy without any breeding, but I think you’ll be amused by its presumption,” New Yorker Cartoon Caption, James Thurber.

Many true wine fanatics insist that, on their death beds, they will ask for only one final gastronomic treat before punching their time card for the final time – Burgundy. Indeed, many of us who have sampled and quaffed our way through this humbling (and often joyous) life love to embrace one commonality – there’s nothing like a glass of great burgundy in hand to succinctly celebrate life’s goodness and many blessings. Bacchus would insist on no less.

Finding the right great Burgundy is often most confusing, even elusive, mainly because Burgundy as an area is composed of a plethora of village wines (such as Beaune or Corton) or even rare parcels of land (like Vosne Romanee or La Tache) that usually lend their name to a wine and are not generally easy to find in a wine emporium. You need the sagacity or counsel of a good wine merchant, such as Consumer Beverage Outlet in Hales Corners, Discount Liquor in Milwaukee or Waukesha, Ray’s or Waterford Wine on Brady. Without that, disappointments can abound, as the ranks of good producers and retailers are thin and rare.

So, in an effort to somewhat simplify things for you, I’d like to recommend the following negotiants (pronounced “neg-o-tee-aunts”), all of whom handle generally good portfolios of wines and whose produce will reward your search and discovery. In short and simple terms, a good negotiant will use his or her radar to establish good rapport with various winemakers or growers, then selectively buy and market their wines around the world. Each of the following negotiants is exposed to a number of terrific offerings of wine, and a selective negotiant, to me, is like a trusted partner. Here follows a fairly random listing of negotiants who I consider to be ethical:

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1) Bouchard Pere & Fils

2) Chateau & Estates/Diageo

3) Joseph Drouhin

4) Faiveley

5) Robert Haas/Vineyard Brands

6) Jadot

7) Louis Latour

8) Eric Soloman

9) Frederick Wildman & Sons Importers

The names of the negotiants or importers are either listed on the upper curved neck of the bottle (as is the case with Bouchard, Jadot or Latour), at the bottom on the front label (often done by Kermit Lynch/Berkeley), or at the back of the bottle (frequently employed by Robert Haas/Vineyard Brands or by Eric Soloman). Some negotiants like Chateau & Estates/Diageo and Faiveley are integrated with the front label.

Red Burgundy, to me, is the first, most innovative and purest manipulation of the seductive purity of the Pinot Noir grape in France. America and other parts of the world can rival it, but many people who are more deeply steeped in wine trivia and education than I will side with true Burgundy on any day, or on any occasion. 

À votre santé.

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