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January 24, 2007
New Consumer-Friendly Burgundy Brand Blends A.O.C. Wines
by Kim Westerman
Burgundy wine labels are notoriously difficult for the average consumer to decipher. A new brand from Blasons de Bourgogne (in Burgundy, France) and Vintage Capital Wine (a U.S.-based negociant) called "Be Friends" lists no vineyards or villages on the label, simply the vintage and the varietal - Chardonnay or Pinot Noir. The intention is to appeal to appeal to American consumers who might otherwise be intimidated by Burgundy wines.

Burgundy brands have historically blended juice; this is the first Burgundy label to ever blend select A.O.C. wines. The winemakers involved in the project are David Dellaye of La Chablisienne, Alain Pierre of Cave de Buxy, Georges Brichon of Vignerons des Terre Secrètes and Bruno Hattier of Caves Bailly-Lapierre.

Xavier Badinand, export manager for Blasons de Bourgogne, told Wine Business Monthly, "We wanted something to bring conviviality and friendliness to the market, something easygoing. Be Friends is wine made by friends for people who will drink it with friends." Be Friends Chardonnay and Pinot Noir are blended from single-varietal selections across the four A.O.C. cooperatives. The Chardonnay is made with an eye towards light minerality, and the Pinot Noir has a moderate level of extraction and smooth tannins, both modern and bright.

Badinand says that the new brand is going for a house style that is more about consistency of quality than standardization. The wine is destined for the varietal shelves at U.S. wine stores, as opposed to Burgundy sections. But Badinand admits, "If it catches on, you might find it at fashionable Paris wine shops."
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