in plain sight


Iris, the Pataille’s German shepherd, at Larrey’s on the hillside of Marsannay

​If it’s our role as journalists to call out hidden gems, I thought I might have found one early this spring at a chance dinner in Marsannay-la-Côte. How was it possible, at a time when Burgundy prices have spiked to breathtaking heights, that good and sometimes great Burgundy was still being grown at prices I could afford?

I returned in June and realized, after spending several days with growers in town, that I’d somehow missed these wines, which had been hiding in plain sight. And I discovered why it was possible to have missed them, through the history I set out to chronicle in this issue. Still, I wondered if others had the same sense that something in Marsannay had changed. So I asked Jasper Morris, MW, author of Inside Burgundy, who responded that he shared my impression about producers in town, specifically the “younger generation”—vignerons such as Sylvain Pataille, Laurent Fournier and Cyril Audoin. “The plan for premier cru classification is the key to this,” he wrote via email, “encouraging the producers to look at the potential of each vineyard site.” He noted that prices of land have already increased for the most promising vineyards. Yet the wines themselves are still affordable and well worth seeking out. As Morris notes, “There is a charm and purity about the best wines of Marsannay without the encumbrance of too many tannins.”

This issue also calls out our eight Best New Sommeliers of 2016, each of them ready to help you discover some of their favorite under-the-radar producers. Chosen by their sommelier peers around the country, they’re being recognized for their service skills and their fresh take on the world of wine.

On the spirits side, Jordan Mackay searches out bottles of aged Chartreuse with collector and sommelier Paul Einbund—treasures often hiding in plain sight in old grocery stores in Basque country and wine shops in Paris. More to the point, you might find a dusty bottle at an old-timer’s liquor store near you.

If you’re headed to Burgundy, you might run into some great Marsannay at one of the wine bars in Beaune, where Jane Sigal reviewed the current places to hit while you’re there. And you might run into some of our Best New Sommeliers at our Top 100 event in San Francisco this October, or at our own favorite spots around the city, assembled in the W&S SF50, a guide to great places to eat and drink in the Bay Area now.