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French warm up to American style

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FRED'S WINE COLUMN

   It used to be that when France's respected Burgundy wine growers had an especially hot
year with ripe grapes and fat wines, they would refer to it as a "California harvest."

   They didn't mean it as a compliment. They saw California chardonnays and pinot noirs as
flabby "fruit bombs'' with little elegance and less ability to age.

   Then they discovered how popular California wines were -- part of a bigger, richer,
fruitier "international style'' that customers loved.

   Today, while no one will claim the French have come all the way over, they do speak
more respectfully of warm vintages. They make richer, fuller wines, sometimes topping out
at 13 percent alcohol instead of the typical 12.5 percent, with a bit more fruit and less
acid.

   The year 2005 was like that -- warm and dry, with an early harvest producing grapes with
thick skins for extra color and flavor and ripe flesh for more grape sugar. It reminded
growers a bit of 2003, one of the hottest, ripest vintages in years.

   Putting a fine point on it, Faiveley announced that 2005 matches its established house
style: "intense, powerful but lean, and built to last."

   Wine Spectator magazine loves the vintage, giving it a rating of 95 to 100 points.
‘‘The quality of the 2005 vintage for red Burgundy is stupendous," it wrote.

   Founded in 1825 in the heart of the Nuits-Saint-Georges district, Domaine Faiveley has
flourished under seven generations of Faiveleys, expanding into the Côte de Beaune and
Côte Chalonnaise. It's big for a Burgundy house, with 296 acres producing 80 percent of
its wines. (The balance are from long-term contracts with private growers.) It has two
wineries, one in Mercurey, one in Nuits-Saint-Georges.

   The wines give excellent value for their prices, which are pretty good compared to many
top Burgundies.

   Faiveley says its red wines go with pheasant, hare, duck and quail; its whites with
fish en papillote or vol-au-vent in puff pastry. This could be true. But when's the last
time you had that?

   I like its reds with grilled meats, roast chicken and hard cheeses. As for its whites --
one of the finest taste matches in the world is that all-American favorite, chicken pot
pie.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

   • 2005 Domaine Faiveley Nuits-Saint-Georges, (pinot noir) AOC: hint of oak, aromas of
black cherries and cloves; smooth and silky; long finish; $59.

   • 2005 Domaine Faiveley Montagny, "Domaine de la Croix Jacquelet," (chardonnay) AOC:
bright, lean and crisp, with pineapple and citrus flavors: $25.

RECOMMENDED

   • 2005 Domaine Faiveley Mercurey Premier Cru, "Clos des Myglands," (pinot noir) AOC:
aromas and flavors of tart cherries and anise; ripe tannins; rich and smooth; $40.

   • 2005 Domaine Faiveley Bourgogne Chardonnay, "Georges Faiveley," (chardonnay) AOC:
hint of oak; aromas and flavors of vanilla, white peaches and citrus; rich and soft; $20.

   • 2005 Domaine Faiveley Mercurey, "Clos Rochette," (chardonnay) AOC: rich, smooth and
ripe, with tart pineapple aromas and flavors; $30.

   • 2005 Domaine Faiveley Mercurey, "Domaine de la Criox Jacquelet," (pinot noir) AOC:
black cherries and pepper; ripe tannins; long finish; $23.

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