A few lucky members of the JN taste team are just back from a whirl wind trip in Burgundy. It was a great chance to catch up with suppliers all be it briefly as they were just commencing the harvest.
Burgundy is one of the most picturesque parts of France, small villages with numerous tiny vineyards. Interestingly the classifications in Burgundy are geographical i.e. vineyard driven rather than producer driven as is the case in Bordeaux. If I could use one word to sum up this trip; it would be “terroir.”, there is no direct translation for this word but it is basically the soil, you could also add in the aspect of the vineyard weather, grapes and winemaking all of which contribute to the character of the wine. The Benedictine and Cistercian monks were convinced by terroir and they marked out vineyard sites in Burgundy in the 12th century. Some of these sites are among the most famous wine producing areas in the world.
The main grape varieties in Burgundy are Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, Gamay is the grape for Beaujolais and Aligote makes a light white wine for early drinking. The Pinot Noir and Chardonnay are particularly well suited to the limestone and clay soils in the Cote d’Or area. The granite soils of Beaujolais are where you see the Gamay grape thrive.
We tasted fabulous Chardonnays at Château de Beauregard from their Macon Vergisson to their top Pouilly Fuisse’s which can age for 20 years plus. Patrick Javillier’s Meursaults are gaining acclaim in the States, France and the U.K. His Meursault Les Tillets shows great minerality. We also tasted the Cuvee de Forgets which is from the Volnay side of Meursault and has clay based soils giving the wines more body and texture than mineral limestone soils of the Tillets vineyard.
The reds did not disappoint stunning Pinot Noir’s from Volnay and Pommard made by the up and coming Nicolas Rossignols He owns just over 11 acres, he has taken on his father 29 acres of vineyards and he now makes wine from his Grandfather’s vineyards, all his wines are biodynamic and he is judicious with the amount of new oak he uses. He is becoming one of the bigger individual quality producers in Burgundy His Volnay’s are elegant, fresh and feminine with beautifully integrated tannins, while his Pommard’s are more tannic and robust in style, big and masculine but still fabulous. We also had the pleasure of meeting Guillame Tardy who has taken over from his father Jean. Guillame produces stunning reds from 1er Cru sites; his Vosne Romanee is bursting with fruit and has silky textured tannins. His Nuits Saint Georges 1er Cru Les Boudots is made from 70 year old vines they have a mineral character and a touch of spice All Guillame’s wines are of sublime quality
If you have never had a Burgundy that has impressed you I suggest you try one of these winemakers wines, 2005 reds will go on for a good few years so if you have the patience treat yourself and forget about it for a number of years. 2006 was a very ripe vintage producing quite robust wine the 2007’s are drinking surprisingly early and are a great introduction to Burgundy for those of you who want instant gratification. The 2008 was a good vintage and some of the producers rate it more highly than 2009 for longevity. The 2009’s will be very easy to drink the press are raving about the vintage; we will be offering a select few producers wines en primeur.