On the road – my highlights from the Beaune wine events

In November 2014 I was in Burgundy with friends from Russia. We tasted wines and I also bought some bottles. Back home I started to share my “treasures” with friends. Recently it was a “St. Denis Premier Cru 2001” (Veuve Moroni) – a perfect match to my beef meat pie Provence style. In the nose I found some fruit and a roasted note, in the palate the wine was spicy and fruity reminding me of dried prunes. This experience motivated me to go back to my notes about Beaune, where we stayed in a wonderful apartment  and enjoyed the wine events.

My personal highlights from the November Beaune wine events were Bouchard Aînée et Fils, Patriarche and the Marché au vin (Hospices de Beaune). I did not enjoy Besancenot very much, but I loved the medieval cellar of Bouchard Frère et Fils, and also the truffle-wine tasting of Vin des Tonneliers was a good experience.

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Bouchard Aîné et Fils

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Within the Beaune wine events, Bouchard Aîné et Fils invited for a tour in their cellar. We found a careful selection of wines and each wine was perfectly matched with a delicious bite (the bites had wonderful French names – as they are only possible in French). The selection contained some vintages even going back to 1962.

Students presented the wines along with the bites were full of enthusiasm, plans and optimism.

This was the selection of wines we tasted:

Grands vins blancs de Bourgogne

  • Crémant de Bourgogne en Magnum: Dry.
  • Rully 2007: Balanced taste of lemon. With it we had a millefeuille des pain d’épices à la gelée de pomme et de foie gras.
  • Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru Morgeot 2007: Very strong, almost too much for me.
  • Meursault 1er Cru le Porusots, Cuvée Humblot Hospices de Beaune 2008: Fresh apple, acidity. With “coeur de Tsar de Saumon fumée d’Ecosse sur pain Porlane et beurre Bordier aux alges fumées”.

Grands vins rouges de Bourgogne

  • Beaune 1er Cru Clos du Roi 2014: Bitter and full of tannin (not (yet) perfectly integrated)) – we later had a Clos du Roi 1962 which shows, the 2014 has potential to mature.
  • Beaune 1er Cru les Marconnet 2012: Cherry nose and taste, soft tannin, already drinkable.
  • Gevrey-Chambertin 2012: Dried prunes, can feel the tannin. Served with it was a sausage marinated in Marc or in French “habit de Gentleman Farmer: Sabodet lyonnais … cuit dans le marc frais de pinot noir de Bourgogne”.
  • Savigny-Les-Beaunes 1er Cru Les Peuillets 2005: Smoky taste, prune, astringent tannin (I call this “furry”).
  • Corton Grand Cru Cuvée Docteur Peste, Hospices de Beaune 1998: Soft (“velvet paw”) and note of cacao. Served with “brillat Savarin couronné d’une dentelle de truffe de Bourgogne sur pain Poilâne aux raisins de Corinthe”.
  • Beaune 1er Cru Clos du Roi 1962: Color is orange, for 1962 still fresh and flowery (reminding me of roses).

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Patriarche

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At Patriarche we find this note, that, twinkling with an eye, says “Charlemagne owned a vineyard in Corton. It could well be that this wine stimulated his genius and gave him the empire of the west”. Could well be.

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As in Bouchard Aîné et Fils, students serve the wines and explain to the visitors, what they are tasting.

The student presenting the wine from Pernand-Vergelesses has lived in this village for five years. He loves his village and in particular the old church. The village is located above Aloxe-Corton on 350m, he says. The slopes are exposed to the south, the wines, he continues, show finesse and bitterness. He recommends to drink them with dark chocolate, lamb gigot or Reblochon cheese. The student dreams of runnng a boutique for wine and food, when he has graduated. From his explanations, I learn that a vineyard a little off the grand cru slopes might be a good and affordable option in Burgundy.

The student introducing to the Chambolle-Musigny will take over the winery of his family, Domaine de l’Évêché in Saint Denis De Vaux ( www.domainedeleveche.com). He does not only know his wines, but also his iphone – and he teaches me, how to generate the variations of “e” that are needed for French. Also the student at the stand of Nuits-Saint-Georges 1er Cru Les Cailles proudly tells me that he will take over the winery of his parents. And the young girl that presents the Grands-Echezeaux Grand Cru comes comes from the Côte du Rhone and dreams of emigrating to Australia or South Africa. I enjoy talking to these young people planning their life.

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This is the long list of wines that we could taste.

  • Hospices de Beaune 1er Cru Cuvée Dames Hospitaliéres 2004
  • Aloxe-Corton 2009
  • Pernand-Vergelesses 1er Cru 2012
  • Chassagne-Montrachet 2013: Soft, nutty, buttery; 2010 more open, lemon
  • Meursault Charmes 1er cru 2008: Reminds me of orange
  • Pernand-Vergelesses 1er Cru 2012: Cherry nose, flowery taste (violet?), tannins well integrated. I bought one bottle
  • Nuits-Saint-Georges 1er Cru Les Cailles 2009: Fruity (prune), good tannin, powdery cacao.
  • Hospices de Beaune 1er Cru Cuvée Dames Hospitaliéres 2004
  • Hospices de Beaune Savigny Les Beaune 1er Cru Cuvée Forneret 2000 (assemblage Vergeresses et Savigny): Soft and outgoing, dried prunes.
  • Chambolle-Musigny 1er cru 1980 (Magnum): soft and dense
  • Grands-Echezeaux Grand Cru 1977 (Magnum): Soft and slight taste of framboise toffees

Larissa has been here before, meets old acquaintances, and they offer an additional tasting just to us:

  • Meursault Charmes 1974: Color copper, taste woody and smoky, some caramel
  • Corton Renardes 2008: It was a lighter year. Cherry taste
  • Aloxe-Corton, 2009: Fresh and biting tannin, dense. I buy a bottle.

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Marché au vin (Hospices de Beaune)

Alla and I had tickets for the “Marché au vin” belonging to the Hospices de Beaune. Again students presented a wonderful selection of wines, not only from the Hospices, but also from other châteaux/castles. The wines of the Hospices have the addtion “Cuvée…” indicating who donated the vineyard to the Hospices founded in 1443 by Chancellor of Nicolas Rolin of Burgundy as a charity hospital – very modern he was at that time!

The student responsible for the Beaune 1 er Cru Les Cents Vignes has a girl friend that is from Belarus. He can speak some Russian which eases our conversation. The student serving the Marsannay tells me with fervor that he wants to trade with wines.

The student at the stand of Gevrey-Chambertin tells me that he was taught not to say “wood”, because clients often associate “wood” with a bad taste that may dominate all other flavors. They should rather say “dense” or “strong”.

The student presenting the Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru 2011 asks us, whether we know, why “Charlemagne” is a white wine. The answer: Charlemagne loved red wine, but his wife would always notice drops of red wine in his beard, when he came back home from Burgundy. So Charlemagne decided to switch to white wine which did not leave traces in his beard. If it is not true, it is well invented.

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Some of the wines have their price.

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These were the white wines we tasted:

  • Marsannay Blanc Les Champs Perdrix 2013 : Lemon taste
  • Meursault (Château de Meursault) 2011 : Oily. Nutty taste
  • Meursault (Château Meursault) 1er cru 2008 : Taste of butter and minerals
  • Meursault 1er cru (Château Meursault) 2002: Almond, oily, perhaps some honey
  • Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru 2011: Flowery, spicy (vanilla), nutty (almond), mineral taste.

The red wines on offer were:

  • Marsannay Le Parterre  2011: Cherry, fresh, light Tannin.

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  • Beaune Cuvée Marie-Sophie Grangier (Hospices de Dijon) 2009: Sour cherry (griotte), wood
  • Gevre- Chambertin  1er Cru 2008: Griottes, toasted bread, spicy (pepper), a little much acidity
  • Vosne-Romanée 1er Cru Les Orveaux 2008:  Prunes, spices, acidity, still closed
  • Volnay 1er Cru  Clos des Chênes 2003: strong, cassis, well-integrated tannin
  • Beaune 1 er Cru Les Cents Vignes: Dried prunes, round, clean, tannin.

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Vin des Tonneliers – Tasting with truffles

Vin des Tonneliers is a wine dealer that invited to taste wines with truffle bites.

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I liked this Pommard en Brescul and bought a bottle.

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These were the wines we tasted with the truffle bites

  • Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru Guy Amiot, Baudines 2010: Melon taste, buttery
  • Meursault 1er Cru: good match with meat bites, less good a match with cheese from Savoy
  • Domaine 19 vingt (blended village and grand cru): Well balanced
  • Clos de Vougeot 2006: Griottes
  • Pommard “En Brescul” Giboulot  2008: Balanced
  • Corton 2003 (already harvested in August, as it was a hot year): Cacao, bitter tanning caramel. Recommended to drink it within thenext four years.

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Bouchard Père et Fils

The highlight of Bouchard Père et Fils is their medieval location – in the Beaune Castle. The kings from Louis VI to Louis XIV used it to control the population of Beaune. The family Bouchard acquired the castle in 1775. Also since 1731 the family has been in the winegrowing business which they enhanced after the French revolutiuon, when most wine estates of Burgundy were sold. Today it is Bouchard’s 9th generation; they sold the estate to Henriot in 1995, but continue to manage and enhance it together with Henriot. The vinifcation takes place in Savigny and the wine bottles are stored in the castle caves, on a surface of 4000m2, 10m under the ground, at a constant temperature of 14 degrees and 80% humidity. A guide takes us down the steep stairs into the cellar. We are full of respect, when admiring the many bottles – they are “naked” without labels (the corks keep the identification of the wine). The family also keeps some old bottles, even from the 19th century, to be able to investigate the aging process of their wines. The oldest bottle is a Meursault from 1846 that was still drinkable. They recork their bottles every 30 years and then also taste them.

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After having left the cellar, our guide took us to this romantic garden.

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The tasting took place above the ground and was accompanied by cougères, the apéritif cookies of Burgundy. A perfect match with the wine.

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These were the wines we tasted

White Crus

  • Beaune Clos Saint-Landry 1er Cru 2011 (Monopole)
  • Meursault Perrières 1er Cru 2011
  • Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru 2009
  • La Cabotte Chevalier-Montrachet Grand Cru 2003

Red Crus

  • Savigny-le-Beaune Les Lavières 1er Cru 2011
  • Beaune Marconnets 1er Cru 2009
  • Volnay Caillerets Ancienne Cuvée Carnot 1er Cru 1989
  • Beaune Grèves Vigne de l’Enfant Jésus 1er Cru 1976 (Related with the legend of Anne from Austria that  prayed for a son and then gave birth to the later Louis XIV).

 

Domaine Besancenot

The Domaine de Besancenot invited to taste eight grand cru wines, however… this winegrower was a disappointment for me. The atmosphere was sober and the cellar was not really clean. This was an “anti-highlight” and I would not return here.

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We also visited some winegrowers around Beaune – not related with the November wine days. I will talk about them later, in particular about my personal highlights.

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