The outstanding Burgundy of Francois Gay

The tiny and unassuming village of Chorey-les-Beaune lies just a few minutes northeast of Beaune. Bordered by the main highway, it has no Premier Cru or Grand Cru vineyards but is known for producing a rarity in this region of nosebleed pricing - bargain priced Burgundy. 

For eight generations the family of Francois Gay have grown grapes and made wine in this foursquare little village. The grand hill of Corton looms over this part of the Cote d’Or like an ancient and watchful fortress, and the mouth of the combe where Savigny-les-Beaune lies surrounded by vineyards and evergreens spills out just across the highway. 

Although located in Chorey, Francois Gay produces top level Savigny-les-Beaune, Beaune Premier Cru and Corton Grand Cru wines. In fact Gay‘s wines are some of the finest values in all of Burgundy. That’s why we have just one chance at the tiny allocation that comes into Portland each year. In fact, only a handful of the upper tier wines from this great vintage remain from this year’s offering. 

This small family winery produces just just 3,400 cases of wine in a good year and most of it is consumed in fine French restaurants. So it’s really quite remarkable that any wine at all finds its way to Authentica Wines in little old Eugene, Oregon. Especially a wine as popular as their Chorey-les-Beaune, a rich, fat and forward pinot noir sourced from their own small old vine holdings that surround their plain yet functional winery and residence. 

Young red Burgundy is often hard for many wine drinkers to sidle up to. As I tell many visitors to Authentica, old world wines (especially Burgundy) are all about expressing place of origin. Their flavor profile runs more towards the savory side of the spectrum, while new world wines rely on rather obvious and somewhat simple  primary fruit flavors for their charm. 

And of course old world wines are made with food in mind, which can sometimes be a challenge for new wine drinkers who often first experience these wines in a tasting setting, rather than with a meal.

But the village wines of Chorey-Les-Beaune (especially Gay’s 2016 vintage) are generally accessible, easy to understand and easy to like. And best of all, they are very affordable - especially when pricing for most top quality domestic pinot noir is taken into consideration. 

Dark cherry and similar ripe red fruits accented by a trace of cola and exotic spice define the flavor profile of these charming village wines. And unlike wines from Beaune just down the road, Chorey is not generally a very tannic wine - instead gushing red fruits take the starring role.

I ran across a wine blog recently in which the aspiring wine writer suggested you can’t find good Burgundy at the village level. Francois Gay’s 2016 Chorey-les-Beaune singlehandedly and soundly demolishes that silly argument.

I would strongly urge anyone interested in quality red Burgundy to seek out these wines. Gay’s Savigny-les Beaune Serpentieres and the Corton Rennardes are especially noteworthy. But for casual, everyday enjoyment of classic red Burgundy, the Chorey-les-Beaune has few equals.