Last week, we were delighted to welcome Henri-Bruno de Coincy to present wines from his estate, Château Belle-Brise, which is one of Pomerol’s greatest secrets. This tiny, 2 hectare property has a miniscule, annual production of just 800 bottles (similar to neighbouring, Pomerol stand-out, Château Le Pin).
Due to the small output and the fact that they do not sell any of their wines via En Primeur, in most vintages Château Belle-Brise can barely satisfy the market demand from their pre-existing, long-time customers. Principally this includes some of the world’s greatest, Michelin starred restaurants in locations such as Monaco, Switzerland and Japan, as well as the Élysée Palace in Paris and Hôtel Matignon, the official residence of the French Prime Minister.
During the welcome reception, guests were treated to glasses of Franck Bonville Blanc de Blancs Champagne and canapés prepared by AWC’s in-house chef, all of which featured local, seasonal ingredients. These included such delights as warm asparagus, goat cheese and black olive tartlets with red pepper pesto, pork and fennel sausage rolls and mini shepherds pies.
Reflecting the artisanal and family focused approach that Henri takes with his estate, it was lovely to see him arrive with his two daughters and wife for the masterclass.
As the guests took their seats, he greeted everyone warmly and began his very personal and illustrious presentation of the Château’s history and production – entirely in French. Luckily, AWC’s Purchasing Manager, Robert Hankey, was there to provide an excellent and continuous English translation.
Following the introduction, guests enjoyed a vertical of the 8 most recent vintages, aside from 2003 due to it being completely sold out – even Henri said he has none left in his library cellar:
Guests remarked that the purity of each vintage was outstanding and that the varying influences of the weather and harvest shone through on the palate. The 2010 was bold, with very ripe, dark fruit flavours and firm tannins, while the 2009 displayed a more elegant palate of sweet, red fruits and softer tannins, being quite reminiscent of a very fine Burgundy from a warm vintage.
Henri spoke at length about his transition from the banking industry to the world of fine wine, as he first settled in Bas-Armagnac – where his family has made Armagnac for over 700 years at La Fontaine de Coincy - and he worked on reuniting more than 30 separate plots of land that had been sold off over the generations to re-form the original Domaine de Toujun estate, which now produces a still white wine.
He confessed his passion and commitment to all things natural and to the concept of complete terroir expression. Through his acquisition of Château Belle-Brise in 1991 he settled in Pomerol and adopted the same methods that he had already been practicing in Armagnac. Although many Left Bank estates have already done so, Henri is now the first producer in Pomerol to reintroduce the use of horses to work the vines.
While the guests enjoyed discussing the intricacies between the various, recent vintages, a show of hands proved 2005 was the clear wine of the night.
One of the guests commented that, “I thought the wines were very good and [I now] understand the Burgundy comparison…the 2009 and 2005 were my favourites (along with the 2008)…the 2005, in my opinion, was the shining star, [with] really good structure, complexity, excellent length and balance...it was a surprising tasting for me because I haven’t been too excited about Bordeaux recently but it proved to me that I shouldn’t forget them…also that good Pomerol is really classy and can have excellent texture and weight.”
Following the presentation, attendees revisited the wines alongside freshly prepared polenta with mushroom ragout and slow roasted lamb shoulder served over sweet potato mash.
If you’re interested in purchasing selections from Château Belle-Brise, please contact us directly as AWC is now the exclusive agent, importer and distributor for the estate in the UK.
We also have some fantastic events coming up here at AWC Wine Academy, including a 2005 Bordeaux Horizontal: Fine Wine Seminar with Stephen Brook on 23rd July, and a WSET Level 2 Certified Course running between 21-23 August. We hope to welcome you to one of these evenings, or to one of our many other upcoming events in the near future.
Tags: Château Belle-Brise Vertical, AWC Academy, Henri-Bruno de Coincy, en primeur, le pin, vertical, pomerol, bordeaux, wine tasting, Burgundy, vintage, wine events, armagnac
Education | Wine tasting
Award-winning wine expert and respected author, Mr. Robert Joseph, guided attendees through an exceptional selection of Premier and Grand Cru Burgundies last week here at AWC Wine Academy.
After a Champagne and canapé reception, the evening began with the following four whites:
Although the order was a bit unusual, Robert explained his reasoning behind starting with the Meursault rather than with the Chablis. As both wines were examples of newer styles of winemaking in their regions - with less and more oak influence respectively - than might otherwise be found, this dictated the order change. The 2009 Meursault-Goutte d’Or 1er Cru, Domaine des Comtes Lafon was a beautiful starting point. Rich and opulent, with layered flavours of lemon meringue and sweet, grapefruit pith, it thankfully lacked the intense, new wood influence that can, in certain vintages, be overpowering in this wine. All in all, it was a very classy effort from a first rate producer.Having previously lived in Burgundy for 6 years, Robert reminisced about his first impressions of the town of Chablis and explained how the use of new oak in the region has transformed over the years from a simple method of storage to a purposeful, stylistic production choice. An example of even-handed oak use would be the 2005 Chablis Vaudesir Grand Cru, Domaine Billaud-Simon which we enjoyed next. It remains one of our favourite ever white wines here at AWC because it is a serious, mineral-driven, ‘Chablis lover’s Chablis’ and also a simply brilliant, everyday drinking Chardonnay.
Given that there were a few of London’s star sommeliers in attendance, Robert put them to the test by asking which foods they would serve with the Meursault in order to enhance its character. The confident consensus amongst the service professionals was that either a roast chicken or sautéed lobster dish, or perhaps an assortment of creamy, cow’s milk cheeses, would enrich the qualities of the wine beautifully.
After the first two wines, Robert kindly asked everyone to alter the finishing order and take a sip of the 2007 Montrachet Grand Cru from Maison Louis Latour before the 2007 Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru from Domaine Bonneau du Martray. By way of explanation, he noted that when he tested all of the wines before the start of the evening, the Corton-Charlemagne was actually his favourite of the whites. Despite the inarguable pedigree and the impressive nature of the Montrachet, Robert felt that by enjoying the wines in reverse order it would allow everyone to appreciate the full magnitude of the Corton-Charlemagne. This was prescient, as the group ultimately voted the Corton-Charlemagne as their top white of the night.
We then moved on to the following red selections:
Robert divulged that he believes people don’t pay enough attention to the texture of wines as they should, whilst perhaps simultaneously paying too much attention to the aromas. Surprisingly, he also maintained that people don’t necessarily smell wines as much as they believe they do. Despite the differences between the various vintages, crus, and producers of the reds it was still incredible to experience such an obvious variance between the wines, particularly considering they all came from the same variety and were all produced within the same decade, “that’s the power of terroir for you,” explained Robert.The highlight and grand finale of the night was the mystery Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, selection which was served blind. Teasing guests with a game of ‘Wine Options’, Robert whittled down the various facts about the wine until there was one clear winner in the room, who successfully guessed the correct wine in its entirety - a 1999 Vosne-Romanée 1er Cru, Cuvée Duvault-Blochet. It is fair to say that this was definitely the red wine of the night and that it was thoroughly enjoyed by all, as there were nothing but completely empty glasses left at each table afterwards!
At the end of the evening, guests dined on two delicious dishes - roast pork shoulder with prunes served over celeriac mash and a fresh, summer vegetable risotto. We look forward to welcoming you to the additional, upcoming events we currently have scheduled. Book your tickets now.
Tags: awc wine academy, burgundy, robert joseph
Just a few weeks ago, we held our fabulous white Burgundy tasting, which was hosted by wine writer Robert Joseph. Following on the success of that event, Robert returned to AWC Wine Academy last week with a selection of fine red Burgundies to tantalise our taste buds.
As experienced aficionados know, Burgundy can be one of the most complex and often frustrating wine regions in the world. When it hits the heights there’s nothing to match it. However, you do have to kiss a few frogs before you find your princes (or princesses as the case may be).
Above: As with all of our tasting events we enjoyed some lovely canapes and champagne beforehand.
Robert was quick to point out that, should any question or comment come to mind during the tasting, attendees should feel free to shout it out – particularly if they found any of the wines lacking for any reason. With an invitation to openly heckle, who knew what the evening would bring? Fortunately, the enthusiastic and knowledgeable group of Antique Wine Company clients were able to enjoy an impressive, 100% success rate, thanks to Robert’s sublime and varied selections.
Above: Robert Joseph (l) and AWC Wine Academy Director John Stimpfig discuss the wines.
The evening started off with 2007 Corton Clos du Roi by Domaine de Montille. Today this biodynamic property is run by Etienne de Montille who took over operations from his famous father Hubert in the late 1990s. What has now emerged is a more open and silky style of red Burgundy than in previous generations. However, the wines have retained both their purity and their ability to age. This is a difficult task to pull off, but Etienne has managed it with aplomb and skill. The professionalism in production certainly shined through in this utterly delightful Grand Cru Corton.
A perfume of violets, wild raspberries and cherry compote rises from the glass. In the mouth, it displays exquisite balance, freshness and length. Above all, the wine had a brilliantly delicate touch, yet was significantly persistent on the palate – nearly always a hallmark of a great wine. This is what great Burgundy should be all about – the proverbial ‘iron fist in the velvet glove.’ Running £127 per bottle, I rated it an easy 96 points. What a superb start to the evening!
I was particularly pleased at how well this wine showed, as I had just bought the prestigious ‘Piece de la President’ lot at the Hospices de Beaune auction the weekend prior. Purchased for $150,000, the Piece was a 460L barrel of Corton Clos du Roi, Cuvée Baronne de Baÿ – a quite similar wine to the Montille.
As many of you will know, proceeds from the Hospices auction go to a number of extremely worthy charities. With the purchase of every lot, funds are raised to support extraordinary medical work. Some lots help save the lives of underprivileged children requiring emergency heart surgery, whilst others support important research into Alzheimer’s disease. As that is the case, I was extremely happy to pay the added premium for this particular lot. Moreover, if the 2011 Hospices Clos du Roi provides even half the pleasure of this Domaine de Montille I will be more than enthused.
Next up was another Burgundian legend – Domaine Armand Rousseau. Eric Rousseau, who now heads the domaine, produces nothing but Pinot Noir and is a master of the variety. Rousseau is unquestionably one of the Cote d’Or’s greatest and most sought-after growers. This evening’s wine was the 2006 Ruchottes-Chambertin, Clos des Ruchottes Grand Cru. While 2006 wasn’t the most homogenous year for red Burgundy, this was an absolute gem of a wine.
Another stunning aroma - both classical and bright. On the palate it had great attack and freshness. With an almost ethereal lightness, it still carried a touch more depth and weight than the Clos du Roi. The tannins were riper and the structure firmer, with darker fruits and a lovely mineral lift on the finish. Although this is drinking beautifully now, it will improve with age. Worth every penny of the £210 price tag. A sublime 97 points.
The third wine was from one of my favourite properties, Domaine Clos des Lambrays in Morey-Saint-Denis. Since Günther Freund bought the domaine about fifteen years ago, winemaker Thierry Brouin has managed to significantly elevate the quality of the wines. Given the warmth of the 2005 vintage though, we wondered what effect it would have on the style of this particular Clos des Lambray Grand Cru. Certainly this was bigger and broader than either of the previous wines, yet it was in no way over done or over-extracted. Once again, the truffle-like, red berry fruit flavours were beautifully delineated. What a pleasure to drink! Having said that, I would still keep this for a few more years, as I think it will benefit from a bit more time in the cellar. 94 Points.
The next Grand Cru also came from quite a warm vintage and this was reflected in its colour, structure and rounder tannins. While the 2003 Échezeaux from Domaine Robert Arnoux in Vosne-Romanée was nearly a decade old, it was just beginning to move beyond its primary fruit characters and hint at the glorious tertiary flavours to come. I found a lovely complexity in this wine - sweet, red and black fruits (both cherry and cassis) and a few more ‘animal’ or gamey notes. At just £104 a bottle this rated a very creditable and impressive 94 points.
For many, the following wine - Lalou Bize-Leroy’s 2000 Les Boudots, 1er Cru from Nuits-Saint-Georges - was the top wine of the evening. Although 2000 was a legendary vintage in Bordeaux, it wasn’t the greatest in Burgundy. Nevertheless, Lalou made a spectacular wine. The result was a wonderfully complex and pleasurable red with layers of candied violet and black cherry fruit, overlaid with spice, smoke and minerals. This had immense structure and staying power; the tannins are beautifully ripe and the wine is just moving into a more evolved phase. With plenty of sap and dry extract, the length is magnificent, making this is a wine to either enjoy now or to keep with great confidence.
As Robert pointed out, the feisty and talented Lalou is just as well-known as her own wines. She certainly has quite a back story. Having begun her career in 1955, she co-ran DRC with Aubert de Villaine for many years before being controversially fired during a vote by DRC’s board in 1992 – with the deciding vote cast by her own sister! Oh, the family intrigue of Burgundy! However, by that point Lalou had already begun to create her own estate. Domaine Leroy now boasts 22 hectares, from no less than 26 appellations, which contain a total of nine Grand Crus. Today, these biodynamic beauties are made from extraordinarily low yields and are priced at the same level as those of DRC itself. This wine is available for £288 and I rated it 98 points.
How do you follow a wine like that? The answer is with one of Burgundy’s most ‘cult-ish’ wines – none other than Domaine Georges Roumier’s Clos de la Bussière 1er Cru from Morey-Saint-Denis.
The core of this domaine is 12 hectares of Chambolle-Musigny vines which were brought as a dowry by a local girl to Georges Roumier in 1924 and famously included Les Amoureuses and some Bonnes Mares. The domaine was added to with parcels of Clos de Vougeot and the whole of Clos de la Bussiere in 1953. That same year, Georges retired, leaving his son Jean-Marie in charge.
Ultimately, the domaine really rocketed into the Cote d’Or’s Hall of Fame after Jean-Marie’s son Christophe took over technical matters in 1982. In my mind, there is no question that Christophe deserves the title of winemaking genius for the balance and finesse which emerge from his terroir-driven wines. Sixteen years on there are still masses of sweet, rich, black and red primary fruits in this wine, with just the start of spice, earth and truffle. The texture is stunning, thanks to the silky, velvet-like tannins. As ever, Christophe Roumier has managed exquisite sweetness, finesse and remarkable length. An extraordinary 1er Cru effort from Domaine Roumier which is a steal at £96. 97 Points.
At this point, one of The Antique Wine Company’s clients from Switzerland enquired about whether it was or was not appropriate to decant Burgundy. This started a lively debate on the pros and cons of decanting among the attendees. After much discussion and deliberation - and following several rounds of voting - it was decided that red Burgundy should really only be decanted when it is within the first decade of its life. Of course, there are no hard and fast rules here and personal discretion will always play a role. Robert commented that he actually decants most white Burgundy but hardly ever decants any red Burgundy, irrespective of age.
The seventh wine was certainly one my top two wines of the night and proved just how well great Burgundies can go the distance. The nearly 30 year old, 1983 Clos de Vougeot from Domaine René Engel was absolutely wonderful. Today, this 7.5 hectare domaine - with plots in Échezeaux, Grands-Échezeaux and Clos de Vougeot - is owned by Château Latour’s tycoon proprietor Francois Pinault, who bought it in 2006. Since that time, Pinault has installed his trusty lieutenant from Latour, Frédéric Engerer, to be in charge of winemaking.
However, in the 1980s - when this particular wine was produced - the estate was run by Philippe Engel. Philippe’s tenure lasted many years and he is often credited with having pushed the domaine into the upper echelon of Vosne-Romanée producers. According to Robert, Engel’s Clos de Vougeot is probably the domaine’s finest wine due to a combination of very old vines and the fact that they are situated at the top of the Clos, adjacent to the château itself.
1983 was another warm vintage in Burgundy and this wine still had some sweet, primary fruit characteristics to it. It had also developed quite a few of the tertiary, gamey, sous-bois notes which are so beloved by Burgundy enthusiasts. Backed by elements of soy and mushroom, this beautiful wine is now fully mature and the gentle tannins make it a real pleasure to drink. Not only was this the most valuable wine of the night at £300 a bottle, it was also the finest and the most popular (as voted by the attendees). I gave it 98 points.
Perhaps because the Clos de Vougeot was such a stunning wine, it did slightly overshadow the 1978 Volnay Champans 1er Cru which followed it. From Domaine Camille Giroud, compared to the 1983 Engel, this was even further evolved. Fully mature, it was quite firmly in the ‘old wine’ category which meant that it wasn’t to everyone’s taste. Yet it was still very much alive and kicking – though not quite as energetically as the Clos de Vougeot. Available for £186, I rated it 91 points.
At the end of this remarkable evening we took a vote on which were the top wines of the night. Here are the results: [Please note that all of these wines are available on request from The Antique Wine Company]
Tied for 1st Place -
1983 Clos de Vougeot Grand Cru - Domaine René Engel - £3,600/case of 12
2000 Nuits-Saint-Georges Aux Boudots, 1er Cru, Domaine Leroy - £3,456/case of 12
2nd Place -
2007 Corton Clos du Roi, Grand Cru, Domaine de Montille - £1,524/case of 12
3rd Place -
2003 Échézeaux Grand Cru, Domaine Robert Arnoux - £1,248/case of 12
Tied for 4th Place -
2006 Ruchottes-Chambertin Grand Cru, Clos des Ruchottes, Domaine Armand Rousseau - £2,520/case of 12
1995 Morey-Saint-Denis Clos de la Bussière 1er Cru, Domaine Georges Roumier - £1,152/case of 12
We look forward to welcoming you into the Wine Academy in the coming months, whether for another Red Burgundy tasting, for your own private tasting or for one of the other exciting events we have planned. To join us for a tasting or to reserve the Wine Academy for yourself, please visit - http://www.awcwineacademy.com - or contact Deborah Ives on +44 (0) 20 3219 5560. To purchase any of the wines which were covered in this particular tasting, please contact one of our staff wine experts.
Tags: wine tasting, wine academy, wine education, vintage, clos de vougeot, grand cru, rene engel, nuits-saint-georges, Aux Boudots, Domaine Leroy, Corton Grand Cru, Clos du Roi, Domaine de Montille, Domaine Robert Arnoux, Ruchottes-Chambertin, Clos des Ruchottes, Domaine Armand Rousseau, Morey-Saint-Denis, Clos de la Bussiere, Domaine Georges RoumierThe Antique Wine Company, Robert Joseph, Romanee-Conti, Premier Cru, fine wine, Echezeaux, Domaine de la Romanee Conti, Burgundy
Last week, AWC Wine Academy hosted another delightful, fine wine tasting.
Expertly led by the inimitable and prolific Burgundy author, Mr. Robert Joseph, the tasting attracted some very serious white Burgundy lovers.
Burgundy is the wine region which remains closest to Robert’s heart and his knowledge of the wines, growers, vintages and terrroirs that featured in the tasting were nothing short of encyclopaedic.
No doubt this passion was helped by the fact that Robert lived in Burgundy for several years and knows many of the winemakers and estate owners personally. Throughout the evening, he was able to communicate his understanding and expertise in a way that truly brought the region and its wines to life.
Above: Fine wine tastings at AWC Wine Academy always start with a glass or two of Vintage Champagne. Wine Academy Assistant Alex Scheybeler (l) and Account Manager Lucy McMillan (r) prepare for the arrival of the evening's guests.
This passion also helped fuel some lively debate and precipitated plenty of pertinent, intelligent and quite wine savvy questions. However, no matter how detailed the question, Robert was able to answer with both wit and wisdom. No wonder he’s won so many awards or that Decanter Magazine once described him as ‘one the wine world’s 50 most influential wine people.’
Above: Perfectly chilled bottles, ready to be poured.
We tasted the wines in pairs and the first wine of the evening was the 2009 Chassasgne-Montrachet, Morgeot 1er Cru from Domaine JN Gagnard. Since 1989, the wines at this tiny domaine in Chassagne have been made by the highly talented Caroline Lestimé. It was an impressive start to the evening. As ever, the Morgeot was classy and elegant, yet maintained its depth and concentration – a true to vintage 2009 which will continue to age and improve. 91 Points.
Next was Jean-Marc Boillot’s 2008 Puligny-Montrachet. Whilst terroir certainly plays a part, Boillot is a master at producing complex wines even in the most demanding vintages. 2008 was an altogether different vintage from 2009 and this was reflected in the glass. This wine was more citrusy and tight than the 2009, with plenty of minerality and tons of crisp, fresh acidity. This particular Puligny comes from no fewer than nine parcels, all on the Chassagne side of the commune. It also includes some of the best lieux-dits, such as Rue Rousseau and Les Enseigneres. Out of the pair, most people in the room preferred the more accessible 2009, but Boillot’s 2008 also showed undeniably well. 90 Points.
The next pair of wines, from the same vintages as the first pair, was a clear step-up in quality. First was the 2009 Puligny-Montrachet, Les Champs-Gain 1er Cru from Camille Giroud. You may recall that that Camille Giroud was purchased by the famous American vintner Ann Colgin, of Napa’s Colgin Cellars, back in 2002. Though it is better known for its reds, this was silky, rich, creamy and sensuous – almost New World in style - with lots of ripe white peach and Bosc pear flavours. A real vin de plaisir. 93 Points.
Following the Camille Giroud came a more cerebral 2008 Chevalier-Montrachet, Grand Cru from one of Burgundy’s greatest negociants - Bouchard Père et Fils. Here, the Grand Cru terroir clearly showed through - complex notes of apples, greengage fruit, yellow plum, melon and nuts. This was also quite creamy, with a lot of butter, yet a nice savoury edge that was followed by very long finish. ‘Orchestral’ was Robert’s verdict. 94 Points.
While the Bouchard had been my favourite wine thus far, it was outgunned and outclassed by the sublime wine which followed it. This was Domaine Drouhin’s extraordinary 2005 Marquis de Laguiche Le Montrachet. It was simply breathtaking - complexity, power, eloquence and precision all rolled into one magical wine. Robert described it as being the quintessential ‘iron fist in a velvet glove.’ Without question, this wine is still in its infancy and will age (and improve) for decades. This had everything anyone could ever possibly ask for in a great Montrachet.
Above: Burgundy expert Robert Joseph leads the tasting.
What a pleasure and a privilege to drink such a wine! My tasting notes do not even come close to doing this wine justice - dry, fresh, rich and ripe with astonishing depth, weight and extract. On the palate, I picked up a bewildering range of flavours, including hazelnuts, minerals, white flowers, quince, pear and a savouriness reminiscent of rolled oats. The balance, complexity and length were almost beyond compare. To many this was, without a doubt, the wine of the night. 99 Points.
You would be forgiven for thinking that this would be a nearly impossible act to follow. However, the 2001 Chevalier-Montrachet from Château de Puligny did quite an admirable job – it actually performed extremely well. In part, this was due to the smokier, leaner style of the 2001 vintage and the fact that this wine was developing some superlative secondary aromas and flavours which added to its complexity. 93 Points.
The Château de Puligny’s sparring partner, the 1998 Le Montrachet from Etienne Sauzet also proved to be up to the task. It was beautifully mature and, perhaps not surprisingly, showed a gentle oxidative character which added a honeyed richness. Almond, hazelnut, mandarin orange, minerals and toast - another stunning wine from an excellent producer. 95 Points.
Among serious collectors of white Burgundy, it is inevitable that, at some point, a question about premature oxidation would be asked. The issue of ‘pre-ox’ showed up sometime around 1995 and haunted a number of wines and estates for several years. The question is why?
Robert took the question head on and suggested that it probably comes down to a number of factors. These included some suspect corks, varying levels of sulphur, riper wine styles and greater use of batonnage (stirring of the lees/sediment in barrel) during the process of élevage. Another theory is that the use of gentler presses may have excluded some of the natural phenolics which help keep oxidation at bay and protect the wines. In truth, it is unlikely we will ever know the conclusive answer. Fortunately, the issue is much less prevalent than it once was.
Above: Carefully considering the wines.
Eventually, we reached the last pair of wines. Both wines proved, without a shadow of a doubt, just how magnificently great white Burgundies can age if they are stored properly and given the chance. The first of the two was none other than the 1991 Le Montrachet Marquis de Laguiche from Drouhin – our second vintage of this wine during the evening. Naturally, the wine was showing its age, but it was doing so impeccably. By now, the colour on this wine had transitioned to a deep golden hue, yet it still had that wonderful acidity and honeyed richness which was also present in the younger vintage. These sublime flavours were married to savoury notes of spice, nuts and toast to create something utterly phenomenal.
‘This is what great white Burgundy is all about’, exclaimed Robert. I had to agree, as I found myself captivated by the wine’s sheer complexity, power and elegance. The finish was equally extraordinary. It was also fascinating to taste the 2005 and the 1991 side-by-side because you could see almost exactly where the younger wine is ultimately heading. 96 Points.
Last but not least, we alighted on the oldest Grand Cru of the night - the 1989 Bâtard-Montrachet from Bouchard Père et Fils. It was a fitting finale to this glorious evening. The wine was fully mature, with a complex, elevated nose, followed by a melee of flavours ranging from caramel and honey to nuts and spice box. Clive Coates once described this wine as ‘virile, powerful and [with] bags of life.’ I know exactly what he means. Even at 22 years of age, it is still going strong. 94 Points.
This was an incredibly impressive tasting. It was also a perfect example of how to conduct a Fine Wine Masterclass – with modesty, wit and humour. For instance, Robert candidly admitted, from the start, that it is simply impossible to know everything there is to know about Burgundy. ‘It’s just too complicated, which, of course, is part of its appeal. It’s one of many reasons why people keep coming back for more!’
Another reason is definitely the wines. As that is the case, I’m sure you’ll be interested to know that Robert is back at AWC Wine Academy on November 22nd to showcase eight, fantastic red Burgundies from some of the Cote d’Or’s top domaines. The evening is entitled – The Holy Grail of Red Burgundy. It should be quite the night and we very much hope you can join us.
We look forward to welcoming you into the building in the coming months, whether for the upcoming Red Burgundy tasting, for your own private tasting or for one of the other exciting events we have planned. To join us for a tasting or to reserve the Wine Academy for yourself, please visit - http://www.awcwineacademy.com - or contact Deborah Ives on +44 (0) 20 3219 5560. To purchase any of the wines which were covered in this particular tasting, please contact one of our staff wine experts.
Tags: Montrachet, Domaine Drouhin, Robert Joseph, Chassagne-Montrachet, Domaine JN Gagnard, Morgeot, Jean-Marc Boillot, Rue Rousseau, Les Enseigneres, Puligny-Montrachet, Les Champs-Gain, Premier Cru, Grand Cru, 1er Cru, Chevalier-Montrachet, Marquis de Laguiche Le Montrachet, Marquis de Laguiche, Chateau de Puligny, Etienne Sauzet, Bouchard Pere et Fils, 2009, antique wine company, AWC Wine Academy, Burgundy, Burgundy 2009, fine wine, wine education
Sitting in a warm, comfortable West London restaurant on a cold February afternoon with my Managing Director, I reflected on just how lucky I am to be in the fine wine business...
After a brief blind tasting of the 2006 Domaine des Beaumont Chambolle Musigny, our main course of red mullet arrives at the table; the crisp skin and delicate flavours of the fish marries perfectly with the gentle, subtly perfumed Musigny. As the conversation turns from our respective summer holiday plans to the upcoming 2010 en primeur campaign, a small party of people spills through the front door, including none other than Mr. Jacques Thienpont, owner of Chateau Le Pin. This unexpected surprise provides the perfect opportunity for an impromptu catch-up and the chance to discuss the 2010 vintage (which we can’t wait to taste). It also serves to remind us all of what a small world it really is.
Trying to keep my waist line as thin as possible for The Antique Wine Company’s impending marathon effort this weekend - when, along with Will Buckland, Wine Investment Analyst and Levi Hensel, Online Marketing Manager, I will be going the full 26.2 miles for the first time! - I opt for the assortment of sorbet to finish. It is a perfect palate cleanser.
Normally, I would accompany the description of such a gastronomic and vinous treat with a picture of us enjoying the wine as well. However, as we were both laid a bit low with winter colds, any photos of us imbibing were off the menu this time around. Check back here regularly for more accounts of beautiful meals, great wines and interesting encounters with renowned individuals from the world of fine wine.
Nicholas Connell, Executive Assistant to Stephen Williams
Tags: Burgundy, Chambolle Musigny, Bordeaux 2010, Chateau Le Pin, Jacques Thienpont, Le Pin, The Antique Wine Company
Earlier this week, our client services team visited some of the most exclusive domaines in the Cote d’Or. The weather was outstanding, the vines were verdant and heavy with fruit in anticipation of harvest, and a more perfect setting for our time in Burgundy would be hard to imagine.
Our first visit was to Domaine Ponsot. Situated on the hillside above Morey St-Denis, the views from the Domaine are both glorious and expansive. Perfect vines stretch out in neat rows towards the village, drawing your eyes eventually towards the horizon and the Alps which appear there on clear days. To describe the environment as picturesque just doesn’t quite do it justice.
Adjacent to Clos du Lambrays, the Ponsot chai was constructed in 2001 and was purpose-built to provide not only extensive production and cellar space, but also as an ideal architectural example of a gravity-flow winery. From the moment the fruit arrives, it is treated as gently as possible. After crushing, it is fed into wooden basket presses which have been in continuous use by Ponsot since 1945. This is just one testament to the importance the Domaine places on history and the utilization of long-standing and proven winemaking practices.
Laurent Ponsot served as our charming tour guide. A kind and eminently knowledgeable winemaker, Ponsot wears an expression of perpetual bemusement. Perhaps this is due to his unwavering confidence in how he runs the winery operations. Ponsot knows, with absolute certainty, that he will produce great wines, and he is secure in that knowledge.
After a brief tour of the library – replete with vintages dating back to the 1920s – and the main production areas, we were led to the barrel room. Avoiding new oak and letting nature take its course are the fundamental principles of Ponsot’s winemaking, and he is careful to emphasize that he is just one element in a grand combination of elements that create these phenomenal wines.
Standing in the beautiful vaulted chamber, the back wall of which is exposed to bedrock for passive cooling, Ponsot further described his winemaking philosophy and practices for us. He was careful to draw a distinction between bio-dynamic, organic, and natural winemaking, and the methods which he uses to produce his wines. Ponsot made it clear that he dislikes putting specific labels on winemaking methodology and that above all else, he strives for minimalist intervention. “In many ways, the wines make themselves; I am simply their steward during the process.”
Taking us through the barrels (some of which are as much as fifty years old) we were impressed by how evocative of place each wine was. From the Chambolle-Musigny Les Charmes to the Griotte Chambertin, each wine leapt from our glasses shouting, ‘This is what I am, and this is where I am from!’ Truly, there is no better expression of the concept of terroir than a wine’s ability to do just that.
Ponsot produces more Clos de la Roche than any other domaine, and barrel-tasting the 2009 edition of his Vieilles Vignes was yet another lesson in why this wine is so sought after. Not only is it layered and deep, with red and black fruits on both the nose and palate, the most striking thing about this wine is the intense stream of minerality running through the mid-palate. When combined with a finish of confounding length, it is clear that this wine will provide enjoyment for many decades ahead.
After our visit to Domaine Ponsot, and our tasting of these exceptional wines, it is no wonder that Laurent claims to have more than a dozen people waiting in line for every bottle he produces. Known for their legendary ability to age and arguably second only to Romanee-Conti in their collectability, count yourself lucky if you are ever able to get your hands on these fine wines.
Make sure you view the following amusing video of Laurent informing us about the 2010 harvest.
Laurent Ponsot discusses the 2010 Burgundy Harvest from Antique WineCompany on Vimeo.
Tags: tasting, burgundy, ponsot, domaine ponsot, travel, clos de la roche, drc, romanee-conti, chai, production, press, cote d'or, pinot noir
General | Wine tasting
Stephen Williams, Founder and CEO
Stephen Williams began trading as a wine merchant in 1982 and wishes he had stocked his cellar with Château Pétrus on day one. Since founding The Antique Wine Company, Stephen has built The Antique Wine Group into an organisation with clients in 63 countries and a global network of offices, representatives and business groups. Regarded as one of the world’s leading experts in fine and rare wines, he has created some of the greatest wine cellars and collections in existence – in châteaux, palaces, wineries, hotels and private residences across Europe, Asia and North America. As a popular commentator on the wine industry, fine wine investment and the global wine market, Stephen is frequently quoted by both the UK and international press corps. Along with his regular lectures at AWC Wine Academy, this blog offers a behind-the-scenes view into the world of fine wine.
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