Posted:Monday, 29 January 2024 23:00
From Archives (2007): Wine Feature- A Date with Burgundy Beauties
If one considers the grape varietals used in a region, Burgundy is perhaps the easiest to understand. With a few minor variations, Chardonnay is the grape for whites and Pinot Noir makes the feminine red wines. But it gets complex-hill from there on.
Due to the inheritance laws enacted during Napoleon’s regime, the vineyards have to be bequeathed to all members of the family-whether they are interested in or deserve the inheritance or not. This has resulted in fragmentation of vineyards; ownerships of a single row of vines or production of one barrel of wine is not uncommon. No wonder wine aficionados consider Burgundy as the last frontier.
In such scenario, the names of Domaine Faiveley which owns 115 h/A and Bouchard Pére & Fils with134 h/A as one of the biggest are noteworthy-not only for quantity but also quality. With several wines with Grand Cru Appellation (the highest in Burgundy echelon) and the Premier Cru (the next highest appellation) tucked under their belt and a few of them to be presented at the Rick’s Bar at hotel Taj Mahal by Sanjay Menon, owner of Sonarys of Mumbai, it promised to be a long but enjoyable afternoon.
For white wine lovers, there were also wines from a much smaller but leader of the Macon region, Southern part of Burgundy- Chateau de Fuissé, was the third Beauty presented by Philip Tuinder, the Dutch son-in-law of Vincents-the current owners.
In all 19 wines were tasted. If this were not enough, 13 more were available for a quick tasting, if one had the time and chauffer to carry one home. These also included the other two appellations of Burgundy- Village and the more generic regional (Bourgogne). Bruno Pepin had the audience taste the Bouchard beauties.
In Burgundy, the vintages depend a lot on the vagaries of nature. Perin emphasised it does not mean that one should not buy wines of poor vintages but it is more important to drink these wines at the right time. For instance, Bouchard 2000 is ok to drink now while 1999 is not ready yet, though it will turn out to be a great vintage 10 years hence. Similarly 2004 is a ‘useful’ vintage as it is expected to mature faster.
The flight of whites took the taste buds from the entry level Bourgogne Blanc JJ Vincent 2006 from Chateau Fuissé costing a modest Rs.810 to the hotels lucky enough to buy them duty free in Delhi. There were also top-of–the-chart elegant and complex wines like Chevalier Montrachet Grand Cru 2004 from Domaine Bouchard, that will linger in the mind for a long time.
It was not a matter of concern for the tasters that the ‘Chevalier’ costs Rs.14,010 a bottle (don’t miss the Rs.10 – these are a few of Sanjay’s favourite things) + VAT of Rs.2802 a bottle to the hotels-duty free. At a modest mark-up of 300%, it would be listed for Rs.42000 (+VAT of Rs.8400) which may be rather steep for us ordinary mortals. But those of us in Delhi should feel good because our brethren in Mumbai will have to shell out Rs. 126,000, give or take! (my calculator gives up calculating the VAT that would make the finance ministry officials salivate).
The beauty of wines presented was also in that many different village appellations were at hand-Meursault, Corton, Savigny-Les-Beaune, Mercurey, Gevry Chambertin (Mazis Chambertin Grand Cru 1999 from Faiveley was my favourite), and Monthélie etc. depicting different styles of winemaking.
I don’t know how much he set the 3 producers back financially, but the passionate Sanjay converted the tasting of the 19 Burgundy beauties (and 13) into a Burgundy Seminar by bringing out a booklet that described not only all the appellations (inclusion of Beaujolais who consider themselves an independent appellation notwithstanding), but also including the maps of all the vineyards which otherwise can be very confusing for a novice or a connoisseur alike, unless he is from Burgundy or married into a Burgundy family.
Sanjay was ably assisted by the staff at the Rick’s who seemed to be visibly and understandably confused in their back-end operation involving 32 wines behind the bar counter. The service for the tasting earned them the 5-stars though.
Burgundy wines may disappoint but they cannot be boring. Wines tasted this afternoon from Château de puissé, Domaine Faiveley and Bouchard Pére and Fils showed that a fine producer can make any vintage come out a winner, the style notwithstanding.
1. Bourgogne Blanc JJ Vincent 2006 Faiveley
2. Macon-Villages Champ Brule 2005 JJ Vincent
3. Saint-Veran 2004 Ch. Fuissé
4. Pouilly Fuissé Tete de Cru 2003 Ch Fuissé
5. Monthélie Les Duresses 2005 Bouchard Pere
6. Mercurey 1er Cru Clos des Myglands Monopole 2005
7. Savigny-Les-Beaune Les Laviéres 2005 Bouchard
8. Beaune Marconnets 2005 Bouchard Pere
9. Beaune Greves Enfant Jesus 2004 Bouchard Pere
10. Nuits St -Georges 1er Cru Aux Chaignots 2002 Faiveley
11. Nuits St -Georges 1er Cru Les Porets 2002 Faiveley
12. Gevry Chambertin 1er Cru Clos des Issarts 2005 Faiveley
13. Le Corton Grand Cru 2000 Bouchard Pere
14. Mazis Chambertin Grand Cru 1999, Faiveley
15. Mercurey Clos Rochette 2005 Faiveley
16. Meursault 2005 Bouchard Pere
17. Meursault Le Porusot 2004 Bouchard Pere
18. Meursault Genevriéres 2004 Bouchard Pere
19. Chevalier-Montrachet Grand Cru 2004 Bouchard Pere