Best of the Best 2008: International White Wines: Vincent Girardin 2005 Corton Charlemagne

Vincent Girardin’s $2.8 million, 67,000-square-foot winemaking facility in Meursault, completed just six years ago, is one of the most contemporary in Burgundy. With its Romanesque arches and square tower, this postmodern take on classic Côte d’Or architecture combines the best of tradition with the refinements of the present. The same might be said of Girardin’s wines: Sourced from his growing portfolio of domaine vineyards, as well as from premier and grand cru sites, these Burgundies, though classically structured, embrace the ultraclean international style.

Eschewing the traditionally musty stone cellars of le vieux Bourgogne, Girardin rides the crest of the new wave in the Côte d’Or: He and a handful of other young vintners (Henri Boillot, Jean-Marie Guffens, and Rémi Jobard, for example) are responsible for rewriting the rules in this legendarily hidebound region of France. Born in Santenay and now only in his mid-40s, Girardin began his career in 1982, when he made a scant 650 cases. Today he produces wines from more than 60 appellations throughout the Côte de Nuits and Côte de Beaune, and he has established a devoted following among connoisseurs—especially those who would rather drink their wines than sit on them for decades.

These are not your grandfather’s Burgundies, but instead, reds and whites with racy, fruit-driven character that are approachable earlier in their trajectories than are more traditional offerings. This silky, intense Corton Charlemagne from the stupendous 2005 vintage shows pure, amazing Chardonnay fruit laced with deep notes of oak and minerals. Incredibly rich and complex, its many shimmering layers of flavor are all set on creamy texture and a firm base of acidity that keeps the wine fresh in the mouth throughout its rich, long finish.

Vincent Girardin, www.vincentgirardin.com ($119)

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