Even once upon a time (I’m talking Middle Ages here), the small Burgundian city of Auxerre wasn’t actually very much smaller than it is now, which means that Auxerre, situated on the navigable Seine tributary called the Yonne, was an important town in many respects, and not least in terms of wine. There are several vine varieties that in one way or another carry the term “Auxerrois” (“from Auxerre”), and what absolutely was, and in many ways still is one of the greatest appellations in white Burgundy, Chablis, abuts the town, so clearly the great and ubiquitous Chardonnay dominates most of the local vineyards. The nearby St-Bris appellation (only granted A.O.C. status in 2001) strangely for Burgundy, features Sauvignon Blanc, only further associating this region with growing white vines, and making white wines.
And it had been just two years before the creation of St-Bris – in 1999 – that Paris had granted Irancy an A.O.C. in what was to be the beginning of the revival of the region’s rich viticultural history, but not to make white wine, but rather to make reds from Pinot Noir. It seems that there has always been a tradition for growing Pinot here as well as a couple of other ultra-local red grapes like Tressot and Cesar, the latter of which can be blended into an Irancy wine up to a level of 10%. Because this is Burgundy’s northernmost outpost of red grape vines, the wines from this area tend to be somewhat to very pale hues of ruby red, though this evening’s 100% Pinot Noir Irancy, while certainly not inky and opaque, didn’t strike me as being at all wan to the eye, or thin on the palate.
I served this quite fruity but still earthy Pinot with a yellow pea soup with carrots, parsley, and bay leaf, and then a main course of good old roasted chicken rubbed and stuffed with a sage, rosemary, thyme, garlic, and lemon zest compound butter. I made a sauce with all of the drippings (including some juice from the quartered lemon inside the cavity) and some white wine. The side was some very nice organic potatoes that I boiled up and dressed with a bit of butter and chopped chives.
Franck Givaudin Irancy 2010
Pinkish-hued, dusty medium ruby color. Lightly earthy aromas of cherry, blueberry, and cranberry fruit with notes of mocha and sassafras underlying. The medium-weight body has a slightly austere overall character, but still shows sweet tannins and a broad and well balanced frame with light, lifted, clear, and expressive flavors of watermelon, red currants, and fresh pomegranate juice with secondary flavors of birch bark, salt, creme caramel, and rose petal. Long and velvety raspberry and tea finish.