When we were visiting Château de Beauregard, Bértrand showed us the small part of their cellar where they keep a library of past vintages. These bottles are reserved for periodic tastings to chart the maturation and development of the wines. The ageing of wines is a really interesting subject, and in true oenological style, quite unpredictable and in some ways fairly mysterious. The maturation process for white wines is less well understood than that for reds and ultimately very few white wines really benefit from extended cellaring. It was amazing to see that Beauregard have wines from as far back as 1906 and it was impossible to look at these bottles without a sense of wonderment about the liquid inside those bottles and what has happened to it over the years.
The Cellar at Chateau De Beauregard
Every wine has its natural lifespan, its youth, its prime, its old age and it is very rare to find any wine (particularly white wine) that will actually improve for more than a couple of years. In the vast majority of cases, wine is not made to be aged; it’s designed to be drunk with in a year or so of being bottled. With white Burgundies, it is only the wines from the best vineyards in exceptional years that will stand the test of time. In these instances it becomes even more important to keep the wines and taste them periodically to understand the intricacies of the wines and how the vintage conditions, vine age and so on affect the lifespan of the wine. This knowledge is then used to inform the viticultural and winemaking decisions of the future.
It was great to try some older wines at Chateau de Beauregard; it’s not an opportunity that comes along too often. Chardonnay takes on a quite different, savoury character as it matures. In these wines the primary fruit had disappeared and a nutty, savoury almost mushroomy flavour had developed in its place.
Unsurprisingly, we didn’t get to try any of the wines from the 1906 but it’s amazing to think that some of these Beauregard wines have lasted so long. Yet more testament to the quality of this Domaine.