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Delhi Wine Club
Maison Vincent Girardin of Burgundy comes to Town

Posted: Tuesday, 11 July 2017 17:50


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Maison Vincent Girardin of Burgundy comes to Town

July 11: The latest addition to the Portfolio of the Wine Park comes from Maison Vincent Girardin in Burgundy and Vishal Kadakia had organised a private Master Class on Burgundy wines at Pullman Aerocity where the visiting Commercial Director Marco Caschera organised a tasting as well, writes Subhash Arora who loved the lucid Masterclass and the Tastings of 8 wines which had Burgundy stamped on them and were quite enjoyable

Click For Large ViewWhen Vishal Kadakia brings a new winery to his Wine Park portfolio, wine connoisseurs sit up and take a note. He has established his reputation as an importer who looks out for labels that are good to very good quality and have a character and unique personality before promoting them primarily  ‘on trade’ where he can educate the hospitality partners or special clients who can afford such luxury wines.

There was already a lot of buzz when he announced the import of Maison Vincent Girardin wines from Burgundy about a month ago. He had been earlier so impressed when he tasted these wines in Maldives from this family owned small Estate in Meursault that he requested a meeting with the owner and decided to distribute them in India. He even made Marco Caschera come to India soon enough for the promotion.

The lure of a Master Class and Tasting of 8 Burgundy wines- 4 each of white and reds could not keep me away from Pullman Aerocity even though I had organised a wine dinner (no. 269) for the Delhi Wine Club that evening at Baluchi@The Lalit and this would mean rushing out before the proceeding would be over.  

Complexity of Burgundy through history

Robert Joseph, the well-known British author, critic, wine judge and now a producer narrates a story about how he went to Burgundy for 6 months to understand the complexities of Burgundy but ended up staying there for 6 years. He says, ‘I decided to go to Beaune in Burgundy to learn about their wines for 6 months. Bordeaux was easy to understand as there were books on it. But I didn’t learn Burgundy wines completely even in 5-6 years but it was enough and I returned to England after six years.’

Click For Large ViewWines of Burgundy can be so complex, temperamental and unpredictable that people generally compare them with an elegant, sophisticated but unpredictable and at times, a difficult and incomprehensible woman. It is this complexity that Marco sought to highlight through an excellent Masterclass Presentation that started from 200 million years ago ( I am always amused at how geologists can estimate the age in millions of years, knowing no one can challenge their figures and amazed how insignificant the 80 average years of a human life are!) and ended up at this year’s frost in April.

Marco explained how the soil in Burgundy was not at all homogenous and why the different slopes and planes had different quality for the same grape and in fact two rows next to each other could be different in character making it difficult to comprehend Burgundy. When you drink Pinot Noir or Chardonnay from Burgundy, you are drinking Burgundy in the glass, he says. Pinot Noir from Oregon or New Zealand or anywhere else can ever be like Burgundy, giving it that unique character.

Burgundy is a region unlike Bordeaux which is on the bed of sea or Rhone which is a bed of river in gravel. Here there were many old geological sites. He explained that 13 million years ago there was a great shake up and break- up of soil when one part of Burgundy went down by 600m and it became a hill. Rheingau is the only other area in the world with a similar location, he said.

Cote de Nuits and Cote de Beaune is one long hill. Soil at the bottom of the hill is clay and 60% of Burgundy wines come from the valley sides and are simply called Bourgogne wines. Village wines come from the bottom or the top of the hill which is 320-500 m high. About 10% of Burgundy wines are Premier Cru and only 2% of the total, are Grand Cru wines.

Marco emphasised that before the 1990s the Burgundian producers made great Burgundy wines, respecting Terroir and making wines that reflected the soil. But in the 1990s the trends changed. Burgundy producers started using too much oak and became lazy, sitting on the laurels. For every good bottle there were 3 bad bottles produced!  

Maison Vincent Girardin

Click For Large ViewThe Maison has its roots in the village of or Santenay where Vincent Girardin’s father Jean Girardin, divided his estate in 1982 and gifted to each of his four children when Vincent turned 18, each brother getting 3 hectares. He started bottling his own wines, buying additional vineyards and renting a few. In 1994, he started Négociant business and shifted to Meursault in order to expand. Profits from the business enabled him to buy more vineyards.
Today the domaine comprises 22 hectares, almost all in white wine appellations. The plan is to concentrate more on this side of the business with less emphasis on the Négociant aspect. The winery has a 40,000 case capacity at the present time. The Maison was working towards being certified biodynamic from 2008, and was undergoing certification from 2009 but one vintage was so wet and rainy that that without the chemicals and fertilizers, their whole crops would have been ruined totally. They were saved only because they decided to use the conventional method. With that vintage their dream s to be a certified Winemaking unit went to the back burner, apparently.   The company has benefitted a lot after hiring the new winemaker Eric Germaine in 2002. He believes in high quality in the vineyards and least intervention during winemaking- a motto of many top Burgundy producers like Domaine de la Romanée- Conti.

However, they are strong believers in sustainable farming and Marco says they will continue to follow the best viticulture practices. ‘We are the custodians of the land and should leave the planet in better shape than we acquired it through the sustainable farming,’ rang the bells of another great winemaker Aubert Villaine who I have met on several occasions at the Tastings at the annual wine symposium at Villa d’Este. The winemaker of Domaine de la Romanée Conti says, ‘no matter how well we produce wines, mother nature is supreme and we cannot work against her Besides, no matter how big we get, we are but the custodians of the land toiled by our forefathers and we must leave it better than we acquired.’

Burgundy in the Glass

Eight wines- 4 white and 4 reds were tasted as the class progressed. Although the Maison produces and is known more for its whites, it has to be said that the reds were equally mesmerising:

1. Cuvee Saint Vincent Bourgogne Blanc 2014

2. Chassagne Montrachet Premier Cru Morgeot 2011
3. Meursault Premier Cru Genevrieres 2012
4. Puligny Montrachet Premier Cru Les Referts 2013
5 Cuvee Saint Vincent Bourgogne Rouge 2014
6. Volnay Prem Cru Les Santenots 2014
7. Pommard Prem Cru Les Epenots 2011
8. Clos de Vougeot Grand Cru 2008

Click For Large ViewIf one were to choose the most favourites in each category, no two persons would have the same answers To me the best whites were Meursault and in red it was Volnay (actually a tie with Pommard!) though Vougeot is bound to score higher after a few more years in the bottle-very elegant and complex but Volnay was more approachable though much younger. Meursault was very mineral, very crisp and fresh with flavours of citrus fruits, and very long salivating end.

It was a rare tasting of Burgundy wines after along gap. The usual dichotomy will prevail. The Bourgogne was quaffable, not memorable but affordable, whereas the Grand Cru Vougeot would be very expensive and yet superb in a couple of years time. The Premier Cru reds seem very reasonably priced but the interest would be more in the whites as great whites are still not very common in the Indian retail space or the restaurant lists.  

In any case, with the addition of Vincent Girardin the Burgundy lovers will find a new option for choice of the existing labels - like Joseph Drouhin, Louis Jadot, Lewis Latour, Albert Bichot and the recently added new and much improved Avatar of J.C Boisset- Bouchard Aine & fils, not to mention a few of the scarce labels like DRC one notices rarely and at rare prices.

Subhash Arora

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