French Burgundies

Sip-Dec-14Steve Pignatiello imports exceptional Burgundies. 

By Jan Walsh

Photography by Beau Gustafson


French wine importer and sommelier Steve Pignatiello is one of my favorite Francophiles. I have been drinking and writing about his P. Comms, Int’l wines for almost 10 years. His love affair with France is even older than my own and dates back to 1979, when he first traveled there. Afterward, his travels and passion became focused on the La Bourgogne (Burgundy) region. “Burgundy is a way of life. It’s a tiny region where the best wines are made by mom-and-pop operations, not large corporations,” Pignatiello explains. His firsthand knowledge of Burgundy wines has earned him the nickname “The Burgundy Wine Man.” And for his work, he has been inducted into the prestigious Confrerie des Chevaliers du Tastevin at the historic Chateau du Clos de Vougeot and serves as the Vice Conseiller Gastronomique for the Chaine des Rotisseurs. “When one of my winemakers puts his or her name on the bottle, they are putting their reputation on the line. These are proud people who want every bottle to be an excellent experience,” he says.

Four of his Burgundies are in my cellar awaiting my holiday table. Parent Bourgogne Pinot Noir 2010 ($37.99) is a balanced, structured red Burgundy with notes of strawberry, raspberry, and black cherry with a lovely acidity. Domaine Francois Leclerc Gevery Chambertin 2011 ($61.99) is a red Burgundy that American Pinot Noir fans will enjoy. This Pinot is a bit Americanized while beautifully expressing its own terroir. Notes of red fruits, berry, and earth are enjoyed in this wine. And from Jean Luc Joillot come two special wines of great value. Jean Luc Joillot Cremant de Bourgogne Rose ($35.99) is a sparkling wine of 100 percent Pommard Pinot Noir. The traditional method for making Champagne is used for this Cremant, which is aged 18 months or more on the lees. There are notes of strawberry and other red fruits with a colorful mousse. And Jean Luc Joillot Bourgogne Passetoutgran 2010 ($25.99) is the exception in Burgundy. By law it is two-thirds Gamay and one-third Pinot Noir. Thus it is the only red wine in Burgundy that is not 100 percent Pinot Noir. Notes of cherry, cranberry, and pepper dance in this fruity wine. Pignatiello also offers private “insider” tours of Burgundy for very small groups. Visit for more info.

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