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Elin’s Wine Pick: A Fresh, Bargain Burgundy

Maison Lou Dumont Bourgogne Passe-tout-Grains

2008 Maison Lou Dumont Bourgogne Passe-tout-Grains

I’m a huge lover of wines from Burgundy, so I’m always on the lookout for bargains from this French region known, alas, for ever higher wine prices. One good buy I sampled recently is the fresh, fruity, silky 2008 Maison Lou Dumont Bourgogne Passe-tout-Grains, a delicious, very precise yet uncomplicated wine, which I discovered in a lineup of Burgundies at Langdon Shiverick’s New York portfolio tasting.

Elin McCoy’s Wine of the Week

2008 Maison Lou Dumont Bourgogne Passe-tout-Grains

Price: $22

Region: Burgundy, France

Grape: 80% Pinot Noir, 20% Gamay

Alcohol: 12.5%

Serve with: Salmon with pinot noir sauce, charcuterie, simple cheeses

Red Burgundies are almost always made from 100% Pinot Noir grapes, but for the Bourgogne Passe-tout-Grains appellation, wines are cuvées of Pinot (more than 30%) and Gamay (more than 15%) and can even contain up to 15% white grapes. (Passe-tout-grains, which is also written without hyphens, means “pass all the grapes.”) And the grapes can come from any of the Côte-d’Or’s 91 communes.

Historically, most producers made a Passetoutgrains to have an everyday, vin de soif wine, an instant easy drinker to quaff while they waited for their more serious wines to age. Think of it as a bridge between Beaujolais and Burgundy, with some of the structure of Burgundy, but the gulpability of Beaujolais. But the key to the wine’s quality, I’ve found, is the producer. In other words, some are more serious than others.

Japanese sommelier’s journey to Burgundy

The winemaker behind the Maison Lou Dumont label is Koji Nakada, a former Japanese sommelier at a French restaurant in Tokyo, who moved to Burgundy with his Korean wife Jae Hwa Park.

Koji Nakada, Jae Hwa Park and family

Koji Nakada, his wife Jae Hwa Park and family. Credit: Courtesy of Maison Lou Dumont

In 2000, they formed micro-negociant firm Maison Lou Dumont, named for their goddaughter and the mountains where they grew up. In their Gevrey-Chambertin cellar, they produce 23 wines, some of which are mentioned in the popular Japanese wine manga “Drops of God.” The Japanese characters (kanji) on the labels mean earth, sky and man, the elements Nakada sees as essential to producing wine.

What struck me about all the Maison Lou Dumont wines I tasted were their elegance, sensual aromas, delicacy and sense of terroir. Nothing is excessive or overdone, neither oak nor extraction. Which is why the Passe-tout-Grains is such a lovely, satisfying red.

Top photo: 2008 Maison Lou Dumont Bourgogne Passe-tout-Grains label. Credit: Courtesy of Maison Lou Dumont