- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Olivier Leflaive, Bourgogne “Les Setilles,” 2005, $17

This wine is a delightful example of why Burgundy still sets the international standard for wines made with the chardonnay grape.

Located in eastern France, the Burgundy vineyards lie near the northern limit for successful viticulture. Although the cool, sometimes downright cold, climate brings with it the risk of frost, and so the loss of that year’s crop, it also allows the fruit in a good vintage to develop just the right balance of sugar and acidity. The result can be white wines that display unparalleled harmony.

The finest white Burgundies fetch exorbitant prices and are coveted feverishly by connoisseurs. This isn’t one of them. Instead, it’s an introductory wine, designed for everyday drinking.

As such, however, it outperforms the vast majority of Australian, Californian or other New World chardonnays in its price range. Why? Because it’s classy, not flashy, with subtle rather than overt flavors and, again, beautiful balance.

Although simply labeled “Bourgogne” or Burgundy, “Les Setilles” is made primarily with grapes grown in the prestigious appellations of Meursault and Puligny-Montrachet. That pedigree shows in the bouquet — rich but at the same time refined — and the long finish. A judicious use of oak adds weight and spice but never detracts from the primary fruit flavors.

This wine should provide delicious drinking over the next couple of years but is so tasty now that no one need wait to open it. Try it with roast chicken or with full-flavored seafood dishes. (Imported by Frederick Wildman.)

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