Burgundy by leader6

VIEWS: 2 PAGES: 20

									                             FRANCE TRIP REPORT 2007
                                   Bill Sanders
                              www.crushandpress.com




Bonjour!
The Greek historian Thucydides wrote, “The people of the Mediterranean began to
emerge from barbarism when they learned to cultivate the olive and the vine.” There you
have it. Our evolvement as a civilized society is attributable to wine and olive oil.

My interest and passion for wine and food and its history has motivated me to travel to
the great wine and olive oil regions of the world. It’s a thrill to share what I have learned
and experienced from those who produce these fabulous nectars. Today, people no
longer just buy products. They buy an experience. Wine and olive oil, both foods, offer
the ultimate expression of a joyful experience. There’s a story with every bottle and
traveling unveils these stories.

After a trip to France in 2006 through the northern and southern Rhone Valley and
Provence, I offered a trip report summarizing my adventures to clients, friends and
colleagues. I returned to France this past November for more. This paper is a reflection
of that trip. I hope this article conveys the depth of fun, wonder, and education that made
this time both delightful and memorable.

First, the generosity, graciousness and hospitality of my new French friends exceed even
that which I experienced while being raised in the “gentle” southern USA. They offered a
sincere willingness to share and teach and the pride they hold in making great wine is
instantly recognizable.

By way of introduction…and preparation for the trip
Planning for this adventure was aided by importers, local retailers and contacts from the
International Pinot Noir Celebration that I attended in Oregon. I scheduled more than 25
appointments or degustations (tastings) with winemakers and growers and one olive oil
producer. As I reviewed my full calendar on the flight to Paris, I anticipated a splendid
and diversified culinary and wine experience. As I was catching and releasing (tasting
and spitting) my way through France, it occurred to me that I was being given an
unexpected peak into the future of these venerable wine regions. In many cases, I met
with the new generation of winemakers and growers. I am happy to present them to you
as well as some veteran warriors of the vineyards.

This year I choose Burgundy, known in France as Bourgogne, as my primary focus. The
wines of this beautiful wine region have been the benchmark for centuries for two of our
favorite grape varietals, pinot noir (red Burgundy) and chardonnay (white Burgundy).
The food’s rather pleasant too. During my three week stay I touched on two additional
wine regions. The Côtes des Bar in Champagne became the surprise discovery from the
adventure. Because of earlier excursions to the Rhone Valley I was able to peel more
“layers of the onion” in gaining a deeper understanding of this renowned wine region. In
the midst of 500 year old trees the olive oil harvest at the foothills of the majestic Les
Baux added a taste of Provence. I also had culinary duty in Paris which concluded with a
harrowing rush hour tour of Paris from the back of a motor scooter.

                                       BURGUNDY

Burgundy is southeast of Paris in eastern France. From Paris it is an hour and forty
minutes to Dijon by high-speed rail or two hours to Beaune.

Burgundy has five areas: the Côte d’Or; the Yonne, known for its Chablis; the Côte
Chalonnaise; the Mâconnais; and Beaujolais. My trip and this presentation will cover the
Côte d’Or which is broken into two sub-regions, the Côte de Nuits and the Côte de
Beaune. The Côte d’Or region extends south on highway N 74 from Dijon to south of
Santenay (refer to the map on page 4). The villages of Beaune and Nuits Saint Georges
are the principal commercial centers of the Côte d’Or. The area extending north from
Beaune to Dijon is the Côte de Nuits. The area immediately around Beaune and
extending south of Santenay is the Côte de Beaune. Driving from north to south on
Highway N 74 is an endless sea of vineyards. Most of the better vineyards are on the
slopes west of the highway. The charming villages in the Côte d’Or are surprisingly
close together, often no more than a mile from each other.

A Primer on the Wines of Burgundy
Burgundy is the most complex and confusing wine region in the world. Why?

To solve this mystery, let’s start with the more well known information. There are
primarily two grape varieties in Burgundy. Pinot noir is red Burgundy. Chardonnay is
white Burgundy. Unlike the U.S. the grape variety (pinot noir or chardonnay) is rarely
listed on a Burgundy label since it is the place that matters more than the grape varietal.

Now, it gets tougher. Except for perhaps Italy, Burgundy wine labels must be the most
confusing in the wine world. Below you will find a user’s guide for understanding
Burgundy.

It will help to understand the hierarchy of the four “quality-level” classifications of
vineyards (French refer to as “climats”) covering the Burgundy region:

      Grands Crus (indicated in bold for purposes of this paper)—the highest quality
       and most sought after wines are produced from 32 grands crus vineyards/climats
       in the Côte d’Or. Romanée Conti, La Tâche, Chambertin, Close de Béze,
       Grands Echézeaux, Montrachet, and Musigny are among the more legendary
       climats. The name of the village/appellation is not required on the label. The red
       wines should be cellared for a minimum of 10 years from the vintage and can last
       for decades.




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    Premiers Crus (indicated in italics for purposes of this paper)—the second
     highest level is the nearly 500 premiers crus climats spanning the Côte d’Or.
     These mid-term wines usually require seven to eight years of cellaring. On the
     label, the name of the premier cru vineyard is prefaced by the name of the village
     and the following words, “Premier Cru” or “1er Cru.” For example, Vosne
     Romanée 1er Cru Les Suchots. Vosne Romanée is the appellation/village and Les
     Suchots is the premier cru vineyard.

    Village/Appellation—the next level is the 25 or more appellation or village wines
     which comprise the Côte d’Or. The grapes come from the vineyards surrounding
     a specific village. The label will merely state the name of the village. Although
     the two sub-regions Côte de Nuits and Côte de Beaune overlap below is a list of
     the major villages.

                       Côte de Nuits Villages (North to South):
                                     Marsannay
    Fixin (One of five Côte-de-Nuits villages Brochon, Prissey, Comblanchien and
                                     Corgoloin)
                                Gevrey-Chambertin
                                Morey-Saint- Denis
                                Chambolle-Musigny
                                       Vougeot
                                  Vosne Romanée
                                  Nuit St. Georges

                         Côte de Beaune (south of Beaune)
                         Aloxe-Corton (x is pronounced s)
                               Savigny-Les-Beaune
                                Chorey-Les Beaune
                                     Beaune
                                    Pommard
                                     Volnay
                                    Monthélie
                                 Auxey-Duresses
                                   St. Romain
                                    Mersault
                               Puligny-Montrachet
                              Chassagne-Montrachet
                                    Santenay

    Bourgogne—lastly, regional wines know as “Bourgogne” are offered without a
     designation of village or vineyard but simply coming from anywhere in the
     Burgundy region. These are early drinking wines and can offer good value from
     top growers, particularly in a good vintage such as 2005. Generally, these wines
     come from vineyards on the east side of highway N 74, which runs north to south
     through the Côte d’Or.


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Source: CÔTE D’OR: A CELEBRATION OF THE GREAT WINES OF BURGUNDY, Clives Coates M.W



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Much of the confusion stems from fractionalized ownership of the climats. There are few
monopolies where a whole appellation or vineyard is held by a single owner. Most
vineyards are divided among many different owners. Clos deVougeot is the most
common illustration with the 50 hectares (one hectare = 2.47 acres) divided into 100 plots
with more than 80 owners.

This fractionalized ownership is further complicated by the nomenclature of the villages
and the vineyards. To elevate the lesser wines, the name of villages such as Gevrey
became attached to its most famous vineyard. Gevrey became Grevey-Chambertin.
Chambolle became Chambolle-Musigny. Morey became Morey-St.-Denis. Aloxe
became Aloxe-Corton. Montrachet overlaps Puligny and Chassagne. The villages are
now Puligny-Montrachet and Chassagne-Montrachet. Gevrey-Chambertin is a village.
Chambertin and Charmes-Chambertin are grands crus vineyards.

Now, let me explain the difference between growers and négociants. Historically, most
growers sold their grapes to négociants (merchants) who vinified, bottled and marketed
the juice under their own label. Over time, growers have increasingly bottled their own
wines, but négociants remain a huge part of the present day wine trade landscape. A
négociant can be a grower. How do you know the difference? If the label indicates
“Domaine” Louis Jadot, the wine is estate or individually owned. If the label states
“Louis Jadot” only, the bottle is a négociant bottling, i.e., the fruit was acquired from
another source. Is this important? As always in Burgundy, it depends on the person.
Knowing if a wine is from a big négociant house or a small grower who can control the
process from soil to bottle provides the consumer with another level of understanding the
confusing world of Burgundy.

The insanity continues. Easy to remember names rarely exist in Burgundy but to find a
particular wine it is helpful to know the whole name and all its parts. Domaine owners
and bottlers are indicated by family name in Burgundy. Many wine growers and
négociants share the same surname: Domaine Mongeard-Mugneret; Domaine Denis et
Dominque Mugneret; Domaine Gérard Mugneret; and Domaine Georges Mugneret-
Gibourg is one of countless examples. Bachelet, Boillot, Morey, Rion, and Rossignol are
other common names.

All of this must be a conspiracy to confuse us. Before becoming too discouraged and
turning to the Australian section at your neighborhood wine store, please know Burgundy
offers vast and pleasurable rewards. Sifting through this cloak of complexity will unveil
the most flavorful, sensuous, subtle, silky, and elegant wines produced on the planet.
Metaphorically, you might say these wines range from the elegance and finesse of
Audrey Hepburn (Chambolle-Musigny & Volnay) to the suave and sophisticated Gregory
Peck (Gevrey-Chambertin). Keep in mind that neither Sylvester Stallone nor Rosanne
Barr-type wines will be found in Burgundy.

Here’s an important bit of caution—don’t confuse light or medium body of Burgundy
wines with lack of flavor. These wines are bursting with a cornucopia of mouthwatering
(acidity) red and black cherries, currants, violets, cranberries, raspberry, and plums



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surrounded by hints of mushrooms, truffles, and other earthy aromas. For those who
dislike the mouth drying tannic shrink-wrap of many red wines such as cabernet
sauvignon, you may have found a new home.

What makes Burgundy wines so great? Together with climate, the land is a good part of
the explanation. Serena Sutcliffe wrote in Wines of Burgundy, “Soil in Burgundy is a
geologist dream or a layman’s nightmare.” During the age of dinosaurs, Burgundy was
underwater. The fossils from dead little creatures formed a rich marl or mudstone.
Limestone is predominant in the Côte d’Or which varies widely in consistency. This
limestone has over time eroded to the lower slopes where it has combined with the marl
to create the best red Burgundy vineyards. Wines from the upper slopes where the
limestone is chalky are often thin and lacking concentration. Chardonnay is usually
planted where limestone is dominant and chalky.

The primary focus on my recent trip was red Burgundy. An in depth study of white
Burgundy (Chardonnay) will be saved for a future trip. Due to the recent train strike, the
Burgundy portion of my trip was cut short. For example and regretfully, I had to cancel a
tasting with Domaine Jacques Prieur in Mersault and their marvelous white Burgundies
(excellent reds too). The gracious Martin Prieur gave me a rain check.

A TripThrough Burgundy
Rather than slog through a narrative of Burgundy village by village, the growers
encountered during the trip will be highlighted. Despite the French emphasis on “sense of
place” or “terroir” and the hierarchy of vineyards, the people behind the bottle are
paramount. The wines of the 80 owners in the grand cru Clos de Vougeot are not all
equal. To put it another way, a village wine by Armand Rousseau or Claude Dugat can
be better than a grand cru from another grower. This is usually reflected in the price.

The tasting notes below are from the barrel of the 2006 vintage unless indicated
otherwise. These are young wines trying to find themselves, much like a weanling
thoroughbred trying to find its legs. You can’t always be certain how a vintage will
ultimately develop. Vintages have been known to not live up to their early hype. On the
other hand, vintages underrated in the early years may prove to be excellent over time.
So, judicious use of caution is advisable before making blanket conclusions about a
vintage. This is especially true for 2006.

Notwithstanding, here are my cautious general impressions about 2006. The July heat,
cold and rain of August and the summer hail appears to have impacted quantity more
than quality. The grower had to work harder in 2006 to make a solid wine. The 2006
vintage underscores the importance of knowing the grower in Burgundy. Those discussed
here appear to have met the challenge in a difficult year.

The good news is that the 2006 vintage is for us wine drinkers and not as much for
investors and collectors as is the case with the celebrated 2005 vintage. The style is bright
and fresh. This is the vintage of “elegance.” The consumer must be more discerning in
2006. “The 2006 wines from Côte de Nuits are richer and more reliable than the wines



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from the Côte de Beaune area,” according to David Croix of Camille Giroud. Wines
from Côte de Beaune lacked consistency but possessed excellent fruit and will offer
lovely drinking, particularly the premiers crus. For the impatient and restaurateurs, the
2006s will be ready to drink earlier.

The 2006 vintage is more about terroir or “sense of place.” The phenomenal 2005s are
about the “vintage” (quality is uniformly awesome). Because of the abundant fruit and
structure, the terroir will take years to return. As for 2006, the hierarchy of classification
is more evident. There is a distinguishable difference in quality as you ascend the
hierarchy from regional, village, premier cur to grand cru. The premiers crus seem to
shine the brightest with consistency. To illustrate, a 2005 village wine can garner a
“wow.” It may take a premier cru to get your attention with 2006. Yet, the village wines
from Vosne Romanée, Nuits St. Georges and Gevrey-Chambertin were consistent and the
premiers crus were stunning.

Historically, buying wines from the top growers in a vintage like 2006 could have
substantial value. Given the value of the dollar, however, prices will likely remain
elevated.

Although it’s not our focus here, 2006 may prove to be the year of white Burgundy
(better than 2005, not as good as 2004).

I have organized the discussion of the growers and négociants in accordance with their
location in either Côte de Nuits or Côte de Beaune. Many of the producers make wines
from both areas.

                                       Côte de Nuits

                                       Philippe Brun
                                   Domaine Bruno Clair
                                        Marsannay
                                   www.bruno-clair.com
Philippe Brun, oenologist/winemaker, has been with Domaine Bruno Clair for years.
Unlike many California pinot noirs, you won’t find rich black colored, fat and jammy,
nor sweet and syrupy wines. These wines are not about power, but have structure, purity,
elegance, and age nicely. The intensity of flavor is their hallmark. Clair employs
moderate use of oak with thirty five per cent maximum for the grands crus. In Burgundy,
the judicious use of oak in the aging process is critical. Too much oak can mask the
uniqueness of terroir.

The Wines
Located in Marsannay, the closest appellation to Dijon, we naturally started with
Marsannay Rouge and Longeroies, followed by the elegant Chambolle-Musigny
Véroilles and richer Morey-St.-Denis en la rue de Vergy. The rest of the lineup
included:
     Gevrey-Chambertin—full and rich village wine.


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    Vosne Romanée Champs Perdix—a village wine—big and round with black
     cherry, blackberry and balanced tannins and acidity. The vines are located above
     the legendary La Tâche. I will be watching for the 2006 futures.
    Savigny-lès-Beaune La Dominode—muscular, tannic and needing ten years to
     mature. The vines were planted in 1902. After learning that I had acquired the
     2005 on a pre-arrival basis, Philippe kindly popped the cork on a bottle of 2005. I
     am looking forward to 2015.
    Gevrey-Chambertin Les Cazetiers—this climat has almost as much sun exposure
     as the adjacent and more renowned Clos St. Jacques—patience required.
    Clos St. Jacques—the grandest of all premiers crus in Gevrey-Chambertin
     regularly surpasses many grands crus. Clive Coates reports in his fabulous book,
     Côte d’Or, “At Armand Rousseau you are presented the Clos St. Jacques after the
     grand crus Clos-de-la-Roche, Ruchottes and Mazis.” Rich and full bodied,
     perfectly balanced.
    Clos-De-Bèze—it’s not just a great Burgundy, but among the best wines in the
     world. Coates writes, “The wine blends grace with vigor. It combines austerity
     and power with finesse and delicacy.” Enough said. The 2006 was affected by
     hail.
    Bonne Mares—velvety and needing lots of time.

                                     Romain Taupenot
                                 Domaine Taupenot-Merme
                                      Morey-St.-Denis
                                Source: www.scottpaul.com
One of my more delightful and informative visits in Burgundy was with Romain
Taupenot. The domaine was formed by the marriage of Romain’s parents, Jean Taupenot
and Denise Merme. Romain, 41, is bright, affable and generous with his time, spending
nearly two precious hours with me. Romain and his sister Virginie represent the 7th
generation. The domaine owns parcels in Chambolle-Musigny, Morey-St.-Denis and
Gevrey-Chambertin, Nuits Saint Georges, Ladoix Serrigny (Corton), Saint Romain and
Auxey Duresses and encounters 20 appellations. For a tasting of the 2006 lineup, we
retreated to the beautiful dining room in his parents’ home first acquired by his
grandfather in the 1940s.

A tip on when to drink Burgundy
How do you know when a red Burgundy is at its peak or ready to drink? Romain offered
general guidelines. Grand cru, premier cru and village wines have a drinking window at
three to four years when people enjoy drinking wines on their primary and secondary
aroma (mostly red and black fruit with some floral and spicy notes). Wines will often
close during years five and six. This period is called “the dumb phase.” Beginning in
year seven to nine, these wines can open with greater complexity (emergence of
underlying earthy notes, silkier tannins and more integrated acidity) and intense
concentration. For example, he noted that the classic 2002 vintage is closed presently,
while 2001 is re-emerging. Grands crus need 10 years and longer for top vintages such
as 2005. Romain suggested that shipping a wine (air or water) to the U.S. fast forwards
the aging by six months.


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The Wines
Sandwiched between the more famous villages of Gevery-Chambertain and Chambolle-
Musigny, Morey-St.-Denis can often offer solid value.

    Morey-St.-Denis La Riotte—a step up in structure from the village wines with a
     lovely floral aroma—the 2005 was softer and fuller on the palate.
    Nuits St. Georges Les Pruliers—cherry, raspberry with a touch of sweetness in the
     back of the palate (the 2001 Henri Gouges Les Pruliers with lunch at Gastel des
     Girard in Morey-St.-Denis was showing very well).
    Chambolle-Musigny Combe d’Orvaux—lovely red fruit, elegant, balanced with
     good structure. This parcel is located in Le Musigny above the Petits-Musignys.
    Charmes-Chambertin—round, soft and fresh. The 2002 came home with me.
    Mazoyeres-Chambertin—richer and more tannic than Charmes; an “animale”
     (gamey) character. Good value for a grand cru.
    Corton-Rognets—the most tannic and powerful of the Côte de Beaune red
     wines—rich and dense; awesome potential.

                               Domaine Alain Hudelot-Nöellat
                                         Vougeot
Wine broker Richard Malcomson, a transplanted Minnesotan, arranged and joined me for
tasting the lineup from this top domaine. After a brief meet and greet with Alain, we
joined the young cellar master, Vincent Mugnier, to sample 2006.

The Wines
     The villages Chambolle-Musigny and Vosne Romanée revealed their typical
        elegance and finesse and Nuits St. Georges its backbone.
The Vosne Romanée premiers crus illustrate the sharp differences in the terroir. These
will be on my 2006 futures shopping list:
     Les Beaux Monts—minerality, spicy and violets.
     Les Monconsorts—spicy and elegant.
     Les Suchots—a consistent climat—fleshy depth with minerality, spice and
        concentration.

Spiciness is not a term often used to describe Burgundies, except in Vosne. According
to Serena Sutcliffe, Wines of Burgundy, “this is probably due to the rich reddish soil
which is full of iron.”

    Clos de Vougeot—rich and powerful, but not overwhelming—chocolate and
     bound for a lengthy stay in the cellar. I carried the 2001 home. The village
     Vougeot is often confused with the grand cru Clos de Vougeot.
    Romanée-St-Vivant—WOW! Great intensity, exotic and spicy. Its sensuousness
     attacks the senses commanding your attention. This needs to be in my cellar.
    Richebourg—Very rich and velvety—full of class—taste expensive and is.




                                                                                         9
                                     Côte de Beaune

                                      David Croix
                                Maison Camille Giroud
                                        Beaune
                                www.camillegiroud.com
The négociant Camille Giroud was purchased by an American group in 2002. David
Croix is the winemaker and believes the work in the vineyards is the critical factor to
making good Burgundy. Croix uses no new oak barrels. These are robust wines with
long-term aging potential.

The Wines
     Bourgogne—bottled in January, good early drinking
     Savigny-Les-Beaune—from the bottom of the slope where it’s sandy; good ripe
        fruit.
     Savigny-Les-Beaune Les Peuillets—nice red cherry.
     Pommard Epenot—more structure offering better aging.
     Santenay—dark cassis, a lovely wine.
     Vosne Romanée—rich, black fruit. Vosne Romanée always seemed to please.
     Charmes-Chambertin—true to its name, charming.
     Corton—rich, tannic and powerful—will need time to soften.
     Chapelle-Chambertin—fruity; excellent.
     Chambertin—here’s proof that power and finesse can marry—patience required.
     The 2006 whites from Chassagne-Montrachet, Puligny-Montrachet and Corton-
        Charlemagne expressed a sensuous minerality with an accompaniment of pear
        and citrus.

                                    Thièbault Huber
                                Domaine Huber-Verdereau
                                        Volnay
                               Source: www.scottpaul.com
Thirty seven year-old Thiébault Huber greeted me with a friendly smile and a solid
handshake. The former sommelier’s first vintage was 1994. If my calculations are
correct, he was 24 years of age.

Thiébault offered a helpful tasting tip regarding the tannin in red wine which causes the
drying or shrink-wrap sensation on the tongue. Tannins at the end of the palate will age
well. Tannins on the front of the palate are green or unripe (green bean) and not what you
want from a wine. Remember—acidity is mouthwatering and tannin has a drying effect
on your palate.

The Wines
     Puligny Montrachet—a white Burgundy produced from 62 year old vines with
        40% new oak. The 2006 white Burgundies have a sumptuous roundness. The
        minerality layered with anise, lemon and pear will offer enjoyable drinking.



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    Volnay—the fruit comes from the Pommard side of Volnay with deep clay, which
     is helpful in dry years. The Volnay needs three years to develop.
    Volnay Robardelles—fuller but not like a Pommard and age worthy.
    Volnay Les Férmiets—this climat is next to Pommard and has a lovely flowery
     perfume—violets and red currants. According to Huber, ironically, Volnay has a
     greater influence over Pommard. Yet, Pommard produces more powerful wines
     while Volnay represents elegance. Finesse and elegance win! Nature is full of
     surprises. Only 650 bottles are produced.
    Pommard—produced from 1930 vines doesn’t have the perfume of Volnay.
     There is more muscle with more black fruit and fuller on the palate. Pommard
     requires seven years. Austere when young, but older Pommard is extraordinary.
     Volnays are for earlier drinking generally.
    Pommard Les Bertins—austere presently but balanced; give it seven years.

A tradition first started by his grandfather, we concluded with a wine from an older
vintage produced by his grandfather, Pommard Les Rugiens (a top premier cru). It had an
astonishingly open bouquet of fruit with leathery saddle and truffle notes. He asked me to
guess the vintage. I declared thoughtfully, “early 1970s.” With a surprised grin, he
replied, “1971.” With my ego intact, I purchased the Les Férmiets.

                                Thierry Violot-Guillemard
                                         Pommard
                               Source: www.Scottpaul.com
You have to love this guy. With a walrus mustache and a limp from an auto accident,
Thierry is the real deal. He and his charming wife, Estelle, and their three young children
live in Pommard. Although Pommard can be over-alcoholic and rough around the edges,
his wines are some of the most graceful and elegant in the Côte de Beaune.

The Wines
     Monthelie and Auxey-Duresses are lesser known villages; with lovely fruit offer
        excellent early drinking; more structure with the Auxey-Duresses.
     Pommard—an excellent example of the elegance he brings to these powerful
        wines.
     Pommard Clos Blanc—only 900 bottles produced.
     Pommard and Derrière St. Jean—located in Thierry and Estelle’s backyard; one
        of, if not, the smallest premier cru climats in Burgundy. Less than 300 bottles are
        produced annually. Only available through Oregon importer and owner of Scott
        Paul Wines, Scott Wright, at www.scottpaul.com. Please save me one bottle.
     Pommard Les Rugiens—the star in the stable with rich black fruit and power.
        Thierry’s is legendary. Patience will be rewarded.
     Beaune Clos des Mouches




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                                     Jean-Pierre Charlot
                                  Domaine Joseph Voillot
                                            Volnay
                         Source: www.vintage59.com (Roy Cloud)
Son-in-law Jean-Pierre Charlot, a former professor at the Lycée Viticole in Beaune is the
domaine director. Despite our language challenges, his wisdom, passion and generosity
are easily sensed. Here is the place to learn the intricate differences among the premier
crus of Volnay and Pommard.

The Wines
     Mersault Les Chevalier—the balanced acidity bodes well for this 2006 white
        Burgundy.
     Mersault Les Cras—awesome white Burgundy with freshness and notes of lemon
        and pear.
     Volnay—typical Volnay zestiness and grace; feminine early drinking wine
     Pommard Vielles Vignes—old vines with density.
     Volnay Férmiets—typical flowery perfume; finesse.
     Volnay Brouillards—more muscle.
     Volnay Caillerets—possibly the grandest of Volnay premier cru vineyards with
        solid structure making it age worthy—cellar for a minimum of seven years.
     Volnay En Champans—I loved this wine with its strength, structure and balance.
     Pommard Les Pézerolles—another star with lovely roundness and balance.
     Pommard Les Rugiens—this climat always meets or exceeds expectations.

                                        Hervé Muzard
                              Domaine Lucien Muzard et Fils
                                          Santenay
                        Source: www.vintage59.com (Roy Cloud)
From the south, the Côte de Beaune begins near Santenay. Hervé and his brother Claude
run this traditional domaine in the village of Santenay. The stable includes solid premiers
crus and a Corton. When young these wines can be tannic with an inviting earthy
quality.

The Wines
     Pommard—typical Pommard structure and strength.
     Santenay Les Graviéres—Volnish in style.
     Santenay Le Clos Faubard—excellent cherry notes.
     Santenay Beauregard—medium-bodied, the 2004 showed cherry and raspberry
        with mouth watering zestiness.
     Santenay Le Clos des Mouches
     Corton—rich, powerful and balanced with black fruit, patience required.

                                NORTHERN RHONE
Syrah-based Côte Rotie is often described as Burgundian offering the bridge between the
Rhone Valley in the south and Burgundy in the north (for more on the northern Rhone
Valley please request my 2006 Trip Report). These wines chant at the soul.


                                                                                        12
Domaine Duclaux and Domaine Bernard Guy are directly across the narrow street from
each other in Tupin in southern Côte Rotie appellation in the northern Rhone. The
younger generation is center stage at Domaine Duclaux and Domaine Guy Bernard.
Brothers David and Benjamin Duclaux and Frédéric and Stéphane Bernard have taken
over from their fathers injecting vigor into their respective domaines. Both of these
domaines are worth watching in the future.

                                    Benjamin Duclaux
                                     Domaine Duclaux
                                         Côte Rotie
Benjamin Duclaux, late 20s, graciously climbed down from his tractor to offer me a tour
and tasting. His grandfather bought the domaine in 1928. There is an old, inactive press
on the premises estimated to be at least 200 years old. One person could operate it by
hanging from the ceiling and turning a giant wheel with his/her feet. Workmen’s
compensation was not an option.

Duclaux has been a single cuvée domaine meaning only one wine is bottled from a blend
of all of their parcels. Starting with 2005, Duclaux has succumbed to the multi-cuvée
fever by bottling two cuvées, La Germine and Maison Rouge, a single parcel cuvée. La
Germine is a blend of the southern Tupin-Semmons climats: Collet, Pimotins, Coteaux de
Tupin, Tupin, Coteau de Bassenon, and Maison Rouge.

These syrah wines reflect their southern Côte Rotie origins with up front fruit, finesse and
floral notes. They employ 15% new oak in the final blend to provide roundness and
soften the tannins. As is customary in Côte Rotie, a small amount (5%) of the white
varietal viognier is added to the syrah to add a floral aroma. The 2004 Côte Rotie offered
lovely black and red fruit with violets cloaked in a Burgundian style. Showing the
character of the vintage, the 2005 La Germine is richer, yet elegant. The 2005 Maison
Rouge was bolder and should age well. I brought the La Germine home.

Benjamin noted an old adage regarding pairing wine and food. Drink young red wines
with beef and older vintages with game such as rabbit, pheasant and quail. The
earthiness of older wine mirrors the flavors from the game.

                                       Stéphane Bernard
                                     Domaine Guy Bernard
                                   Côte Rotie and Condrieu
I next crossed N 86 to Domaine Guy Bernard where I was met by the friendly and
generous Stéphane Bernard. We barrel tasted the 2006 climats: Rosier, Coteaux de
Bassenon and Les Meandres. Stéphane presented the 2005 Les Meandres, a fruity,
medium-bodied, and early drinking wine. The 2005 Vieilles Vignes (old vines), which is
the last year for the cuvée, is rich, meaty and dense with bigger tannic structure. The
Bernards are fortunate to own parcels in the climats of Rozier and Côte Brune in the
northern sector of Côte Rotie. These provide greater concentration and backbone. New
oak is used sparingly.


                                                                                         13
Tupin is on the border between Côte Rotie and Condrieu, the home of the fabulous age
worthy white wines made from viognier. The Bernard 2006 Condrieu is full-bodied with
floral aromas of roses, orange blossoms and Jasmine. The Vieilles Vignes came home
with me, while the Condrieu vaporized in Paris.

A Gastronomic Highlight
That evening, based on the recommendation of Beaune wine broker, Richard Malcomson,
I stayed in a charming old hotel/restaurant La Réclusiere in Condrieu. The proprietors
are Elisabeth and Martin Fleischman (chef). As is often the case in France, culinary
treasures are found in the most unassuming places. This was one. The first course was a
tartare of avocado and pear, an unlikely combination. A mousse of avocado and pear
spread atop a clump of crab on a bed of thinly diced avocado, pear, mushrooms, shallots,
and seaweed drizzled with a fruit and lemon vinaigrette. This was followed by roasted
beef cheeks with carrots and cardamom thickened with duck leaver. A bottle of the 2005
Domaine Fleury St. Joseph complemented the beef splendidly.

                                 SOUTHERN RHONE
The southern Rhone has very little in common with the northern Rhone. In fact, there is
a gap (over an hour drive) between where the northern Rhone ends and the southern
Rhone begins. The climates are vastly different. In the southern Rhone, the hot sun
scorches the earth. Waves of lavender fields span the landscape. This year, the mighty le
mistral, the cold and ferocious wind that blows down from the Alps through the Rhone
Valley, was a chilling companion. Throughout the night, it sounded and felt as if a train
was roaring through the house. The mistral made for bright and clear blue skies
reminding me of those in Colorado. A cloud was not visible for 8 days.

In the southern Rhone, the grape varietal grenache assumes leadership from syrah. These
wines can have amazing intensity and concentration. The fruit is often black and red
currents, black and red cherries, strawberry, and raspberry. There is a pleasing and
comforting earthiness with leather, tar and sun-drenched herbs.

                                     Laurent Charvin
                                    Domaine Charvin
                                  Chateauneuf du Pape
Given the emphasis on Burgundy this year, a visit with Laurent Charvin in Chateauneuf
du Pape was appropriate. Wine writers including Robert Parker often describe Charvin’s
Chateauneuf du Pape as Burgundian or “a poor man’s Chateau Rayas.” With a traditional
approach including the absence of new oak, Charvin’s Chateauneuf displays typical
elegance that you come to expect from this domaine. The minerality of 2004 is classic
and is now sleeping in my cellar. The red fruit of the 2005 is more robust with no loss of
finesse. The freshness and liveliness is remarkably pleasant on the palate. His 2005 Côte
de Rhone “Le Poutet” has to be the value of the year. It’s equivalent or better than
Chateauneuf du Papes twice its price.




                                                                                       14
                                        Mont Redon
                                    Chateauneuf-du-Pape
                                  www.chateaumontredon.fr
This old, reliable estate also produces a single cuvée (one red, one white). I often find this
wine in restaurants. The 2006 blanc is a beautiful expression of minerality produced in
stainless steel, no oak. Mont Redon produces a red and white from the adjacent
appellation, Lirac. New oak is nicely integrated in the blanc. The blend of grenache,
syrah and cinsault makes a drinkable juice with notes of red plums and cherries. We had
the good fortunate of tasting the 2006 with the 1999. It’s nice to see what a wine can be
become—transitioning from red and black fruit when young to earthy elegance and
smoothness that comes with age.

                                       Vincent Avril
                                      Clos des Papes
                                   Chateauneuf-du-Pape
                                   www.clos-des-papes.fr
Our next stop was at Wine Spectator’s 2007 “Wine of the Year,” the 2005 Clos des
Papes. This classic domaine is a genuine star in Chateauneuf du Pape. Vincent Avril, 42,
is the dynamic new generation leading this appellation production of great wines. His
family traces its history in Chateauneuf to the 17th century. His grandfather first bottled
under the Clos des Papes name in 1896. Like Charvin, Avril is firmly in the single wine
(cuvée) camp with one red and one white. He believes that blending the multiple
vineyards adds “complexity and finesse.” The proof is in the bottle. We were offered the
full-bodied 2000 Chateauneuf, showing dense cassis and tar—a fabulous wine. The 1999
Blanc (white) is outstanding with amazing depth, richness and complexity.

                                      Nick Thompson
                                   Domaine L’Ameillaud
                                         Cairanne
                               www.domaine-ameillaud.com
Englishman, Nick Thompson came to France 22 years ago and stayed. His love of the
vines likely drove that decision. A French mademoiselle may have played a part. Nick is
a passionate, experienced winemaker. He’s under the radar screen in the U.S. His
Cairanne has denseness and concentration that are pleasing to the senses—an exceptional
value. Nick filters his young wines, but not wines for aging. He also makes a small
amount of wine for the large commercial wine company, Fat Bastard. To raise his
profile, he’s making an “especial” grenache.

If you’ve coveted vacationing on a French wine domaine, this is your place. Nick has
two spacious and lovely apartments available for rent. The kitchen and downstairs living
area is designed for entertaining. He told the story of a group of 10 or more diverse
guests from England, Germany and Italy. For meals, they moved the outside table under
a different tree depending on the location of the sun. The day before the conclusion of
their two week holiday, one guest came to Nick asking to buy four more bottles of his
rosé. They had consumed 96 bottles of rosé and wanted to make it an even 100. You
have to love their style.


                                                                                           15
                                    Walter McKinlay
                                  Domaine de Mourchon
                                          Seguret
                            www.Domainedemourchon.com
Walter McKinlay, a Scotsman, owns an information technology company, but his passion
is wine. His 2005 Seguret Reserve has been highly rated by Decanter magazine. The
2006 “Tradition” has fabulous fruit and is an early drinking wine. All of his wines are
pocket book friendly and are a staple at my table. He has a special 2006 bottling
celebrating the domaine’s tenth anniversary.

My friends, Cheryllynn and Russ, and I were treated to a delightful lunch with Walter
and his charming wife, Ronnie, in their marvelous home perched on the majestic hills
near Seguret. Lunch was served in their beautiful French country kitchen. With the
fireplace blazing, Walter generously served his rosé, 98 Reserve, 2003 Reserve, and 2006
“Especial.” Life is grand.

                                 Christine and Eric Saurel
                                     Domaine Montirius
                                        Vacqueyras
                        Source: www.vintage59.com (Roy Cloud)
For the second year in a row, I visited Domaine Montirius. Unfortunately, the owners,
Christine and Eric Saurel, were in New York, but that was no hurdle to tasting the fine
wines and enjoying Montirius hospitality. Christine and Eric are dedicated growers and
are lovely people. The vines are managed biodynamically.

The Wines
     2003 Rose—Provencal style with a delicate salmon color—lots of cherry and
        good minerality and not too fruity like many rosés; surprising freshness for a
        2003.
     2004 Blanc—varietals are grenache blanc, rousanne and bourboulenc; good
        minerality.
     2006 Vin de Pays—grenache (50%) and syrah (30%)—cherry and strawberry
        prevail with low tannins; drink for the next three to five years.
     2006 Côte de Rhone—with 100% Grenache this regional wine has surprising
        structure and can be cellared for five to seven years.
     2004 Vacqueyras (Garriques)—with 70% Grenache and 30% syrah has an
        enticing scent of sun-drenched herbs and excellent minerality; five to seven years.
     2004 Vacqueyras Le Clos—good depth and concentration—stellar wine with
        good value.
     2004 Gigondas Vielles Vignes—softer tannins than the Le Clos with lovely red
        fruit.




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                            CHAMPAGNE: CÔTE des BAR

                                     Morgane Fleury
                                   Champagne Fleury
                                        Courteron
                                www.champagne-fleury.fr
The most enlightening discovery in this adventure was the Côte des Bar in southern
Champagne. Nestled near the genesis of the Seine River lies a group of small grower,
boutique champagne houses in the villages of Courteron, Buxeuil and Neuville. The big
houses are nowhere to be found. Fleury rests in the middle of the tiny village of
Courteron. Morgane Fleury who presented and poured her Champagne at the
International Pinot Noir Celebration in Oregon this past July invited me to visit. Fleury is
family owned and operated. Morgane who handles the marketing is terrifyingly fearless
on a motor scooter. The Fleurys are gracious and hospitable and welcomed me into their
home offering great food, marvelous champagne and genuine friendship.

There’s a strong pioneering tradition in the Fleury family. In 1929 Morgane’s grand-
father, Robert pioneered bottling his on champagne. Prior to this, the fruit was sold to the
big houses in the north. In 1989 her father, Jean-Pierre, was the first in the Côte des Bar
to employ biodynamic cultivation in 1989. To give you a flavor for the region, every
member of the Fleury family seemed to own their own Champagne. An uncle owns
Champagne Fluteau. An aunt owns a Champagne Amyot. Everyone should have their
own Champagne!

On a practical note, Morgane suggested not using soap when washing champagne glasses
or flutes. A residue of soap can prevent those extraordinary bubbles. She also offered a
tip to measure quality called the “cordon.” This is an abundance of bubbles present on
the outer rim of the surface of your glass.

Older Burgundy
The importance of patience in aging good Burgundy, particularly a grand cru, has been
emphasized repeatedly. Validation came at a dinner party thrown by Morgane’s friend,
Christine Gatto, an accomplished cook in the village of Riceys. After the main course,
Christine announced that she had a surprise for us and disappeared into her cellar
returning with a 1996 Noirot-Rousseau Echézeaux (Vosne Romanée). This isn’t
considered old Burgundy but it has matured beyond its youth. Not long after opening,
the wine showed its remarkable fruit. With every sip the intense concentration and a
lengthy finish begged you to come back to the glass. This was one of the more
memorable wines from the trip and will have many tasty years ahead of it.




                                                                                          17
                                       OLIVE OIL

My love and enjoyment of food made a quantum leap when I became passionate about
olive oil in the late 1990s. At that time, I was chief of the healthy food police
(fortunately for all who know me, I’ve mellowed). In my pursuit of finding variety and
flavor in healthy eating, I discovered that olive oil was not a commodity, but a terroir
(sense of place) driven food, similar to wine. I was fascinated that olive oil from around
the world including Tuscany, Spain, Sicily, Provence, and New Zealand all had their own
character and uniqueness. My journey led me ultimately to the University of California-
Davis Sensory Evaluation of Olive Oil program where I finished third in a tasting test
among fifty industry insiders. With my confidence boosted I embarked on developing my
palate for wine. After all, wine had the potential to be abundantly more fun.

With that history, a trip to any olive oil producing region would not be complete without
visiting at least one top olive oil producer, especially during the harvest. Thanks to Nick
Thompson I found a good one. The moment I stepped into the mill inhaling those
wonderful and inviting olive harvest aromas all was good in my world.

                                       Jean Benoït-Hugues
                                             Castelas
                                      Les Baux (Provence)
                                        www.castelas.com
After 15 years in Arizona, Catherine and Jean Benoït-Hugues returned home to their
beloved Provence to pursue their passion—olive trees. They own 39 hectares (about 90
acres) of olive trees. In 2002 they built their own mill from scratch. They control the
quality of the product from the tree to the bottle. The olives can be pressed without delay
to retain all of their fruitiness and freshness.

Castelas olive oil has its roots in the heart of Provence, on the sun-soaked foot slopes of
Les Alpilles below majestic Les Baux. With freshly cut grass, almond and artichoke
aromas the oil possesses delightful freshness and balance. Hugues blends four varieties
of olive typical of the Vallée des Baux de Provence: Salonenque, Beruguette, Grossane
and Verdale. It has a peppery, bitter edge that denotes the presence of natural
polyphenols, a sign that the olives were picked at the optimal point of freshness and
maturity.

Cooking With Olive Oil
Much too often, I hear chefs discourage the use of extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) in
cooking. Granted, using a $40 bottle of premium EVOO for cooking is a wasteful use of
the nectar. Plus, the heat dissipates most of the health benefits. This advice, however,
more often than not leads to cooking with rancid or defective oil or tasteless oils from
other sources. Alternatively, I offer the following suggestions:

      Use less expensive or older EVOO for cooking. Because fresh is best, olive oil
       should be consumed within 18 to 24 months of harvest. When an unopened bottle
       reaches 18 months of age (or sooner) using it for cooking is suggested. The


                                                                                          18
       harvest date is often times listed on the back label (November 2007) or as a “Best
       to use by…” date which is two years (or 18 months) subsequent to the harvest.
       For example, if the bottle indicates it’s “Best to use by December 2009,” the
       olives were harvested in the autumn of 2007.
      Use the remaining 25% of a bottle for cooking. Occidation accelerates rapidly in
       an open bottle even with the cap closed tightly. Air is the arch enemy of olive
       oil—along with light, heat and age. After a bottle has been opened for 45 days,
       the oil speeds towards rancidity. Do you want to cook with rancid oil? So, there’s
       no need to conserve that bottle of EVOO you brought back from Tuscany two
       years ago.
      Unless you cook frequently for a large group, purchase bottles in the 500 or
       750ml size. Larger size bottles or cans will occidize quicker.
      Consider using grapeseed oil for high temperature cooking (above 425º)
      Store EVOO in a dark cupboard away from the stove or any heat.
      EVOO is a condiment (Italian ketchup). After cooking drizzle a small amount
       over your meat, fish, poultry, and vegetables.

We are all familiar with the admonishment from celebrity chefs to never cook with a
wine you would not drink. Olive oil is no different?

                                  FINAL THOUGHTS

You may have noticed that numerical wine scores from Robert Parker or other wine
rating services are absent from the previous tasting comments. For me, the stories and the
people behind a bottle of wine are more fascinating and informative. Enjoyment of wine
is not an accounting exercise. It’s a romantic pleasure that dances on all of our senses. I
suppose scores and ratings are useful in simplifying wine buying. Yet, I can’t help but
feel that relying too heavily on wine scores limits one’s enjoyment and ultimately
understanding of wine. Strive to be more than a drinker of wine, but a taster of wine.
Forget the numbers and seek to understand a wine through all of your senses—your
whole being. In other words, be aware of what you are tasting. You will be glad you did.

Remember—the best glass of wine (and olive oil) is the one in your hand.

A bientôt,

Bill Sanders
bill@crushandpress.com

                          www.crushandpress.com




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