On Thursday April 23 we were invited to a Burgundy Wine Tasting held at the French Embassy and hosted by the Burgundy Wine Board (BIVB). As expected, the expo provided fabulous Pinot Noir and Chardonnay wines as well as a nice overview of the Burgundy region. Wine has been produced in this region for over 2,000 years, which is remarkable since many the the ancient wine growing regions are no longer producing wine. We also learned about the five vignobles within Burgundy, from Chablis in the north, through Côte de Nuits to Côte de Beaune and finally to Côte Chalonnaise and Mâconnais in the south.
We started with the Pinot Noirs and we found a common trait among most of these wines in that the nose was peppery, but on the palate the wine was full cherry flavors with little or no spiciness. Not even a lot of earthiness. Maybe the winemakers are succumbing to the American palate. With over 30 exhibitors we didn't taste wine from every company or even the entire portfolio within an exhibit; with that said, of the wines we tasted, we found some keepers starting the 2005 Clos des Langres Monopole from Domaine d'Ardhuy. Evidently 2005 was an excellent vintage in Burgundy, and this wine reflects that. It is smooth and creamy even with the aforementioned peppery nose. But the tail, no tannins - completely smooth. Located in the Côte de Beaune this winery also produces an excellent Grand Cru from Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Beaune was also the region that produced our other two favorites, the Domaine Chanson Pere & Fils, 2005 Clos des Feves and the creamy Bourgogne Parent, 2002 Les Epenottes. There were other outstanding reds. Starting with Maison Louis Latour, Clavelier & Fils, Domaine Tortochot, and Chateau de Melin.
In many cases the actual winemaker was pouring the wines so we were able to meet the families and learn about their history. Many of these wineries have been in the same family for over 5 or 6 generations. One overlooked benefit is that their is an immediate library of facts and history that the winemaker can resource when weather conditions make winemaking difficult. In most situations, there is a documented history to suggest alterations duing the winemaking and evidence how the wine matures in these years. This is difinately somthing missing in the states.
Because of time constraints, we did not sample many chardonnay wines. The Chateau Beru was one of our favorites, producing only whites. Another winery that just produced chardonnay was Cave de Vire. And we can't forget the Closerie des Alisiers - Stephane Brocard. We started with their red Gevrey-Chambertin, but really liked their chardonnay - particularly the 2007 Meursault.
Another benefit of this expo was the booklet of reading material we were able to take home. We will be studying this region, learning more bout its history, regions, wines, and wine-making families.
More photos are available at the Compass Tours section.