Archive for the ‘France: Burgundy’ Category

"Pour de France" graphic by David Ryan

“Pour de France” graphic by David Ryan

I was recently sent this interesting infographic from its author David Ryan of the Headwater holiday adventures (including interesting wine and food themed trips). It is packed with some interesting facts, so I have decided to share it here with my readers at winebeing.com.



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Primum Familiae Vini is an association of eleven leading families from the most distinguished wine-growing regions on the world.

These families and the brands they created are:

  • Marchesi ANTINORI (Italy – Tuscany, etc.)the old Tuscan Antinori family
  • CHATEAU MOUTON ROTHSCHILD (France – Bordeaux, etc.) – of the world-known Rothschild banking family
  • Joseph DROUHIN (France – Burgundy) – Mr. Drouhin is one of the biggest producers of quality wines from Burgundy
  • Egon MÜLLER-SCHARZHOF (Germany) – the leading wine making family in the Saar region of Germany
  • HUGEL & FILS (Alsace) – the family behind the unmistakable yellow-labeled wines in the tall & lean ‘Alsatian’ bottle  
  • POL ROGER (Champagne) – the de Billy family taking care of the most preferred champagne of Sir Winston Churchill – what’s intriguing is that, the first bottle of P.R. was sold in the UK
  • Perrin et Fils – owners of the Château de Beaucastel (Chateauneuf-du-Pape) – the most distinct family in the French Rhone Valley
  • Symington Family Estates – Graham’s, Cockburn’s, Warre’s, Dow’s, Quinta do Vesuvio, Altano, Quinta de Roriz, Chryseia, Blandy’s Madeira (Portugal) – there aren’t many families owning                  as many wine-related brands as the Symingtons in Portugal
  • TENUTA SAN GUIDO – producer of SASSICAIA (Italy) – the Incisa della Rocchetta family were the pioneers of the gripping Bordeaux-style wines or the “Super Tuscans” in Italy
  • Miguel TORRES – Mas La Plana (Spain, etc.) – in Robert Symington’s words “he’s managed what nobody else managed in the wine industry”; I think he meant: keeping top-quality while producing quantity in many parts of the world
  • VEGA SICILIA (Spain) – the Alvarez family known for creating the iconic Spanish wine in Ribera del Duero

The members strive to achieve honorable goals:

  • To promote and defend the moral values that are the backbone of family businesses .
  • To exchange viticultural/oenological information and promote traditional methods that underline the quality of the wine and respect for “terroir”.
  • To promote the moderate consumption of wine, which is considered to be a cultural tradition of conviviality and of “savoir-vivre”.
  • To exchange useful information on all aspects of their businesses.

[Source: Pfv.org]

Annual gathering

Once a year, they organise a charity-themed dinner on which a collection of their wines is being auctioned. I’ve attended the recent one at the restaurant Galvin at Windows in London’s Hilton hotel. Not only the food was paired tremendously, all the wines we were drinking were just great! As Serena Sutclife, M.W. and International Wine Specialist at Sotheby’s said during the auction: “Great wines are always made by great personalities.” Well, I must agree with her. All the family members who attended and spoke during the dinner did not lack a sense for humour, friendly attitude as well as open-mindedness.

Outstanding people

Baroness Philippine de Rothschild was the queen of the event, with her outgoing speech, which I would call a Tony-award deserving theatrical performance, made a big impression on everyone present on the dinner. The only person who did not show a wicked smile on his face was her son Philippe SEREYS. Standing next to her, he probably knew her talent to entertain, therefore he kept the serious facade. They were an amusingly charming duo, indeed.

Rotating leadership

Each year, one of the families takes the chairmanship and leads the tasting. This year (2012) it is the Drouhins, so the dinner started with his talk about the values of PFV members. He said: “Families make the business more ethical and valuable.”  Again, I cannot disagree with him, also this point is one of the main reasons why I intend to make a documentary film about this feature in the wine industry. This event is the prove as it is organized in the name of charity and the families indeed care a lot about the products that bear their names.

The wines served at 2012 dinner

They were all great, as I mentioned above. To everyone’s palette though there were some outstanding sips at our tables. Most of ladies were ravished by a sweet Riesling Goldkapsel Auslese 1995 from Egon Muller Scharzhofberger. The Goldkapsel is not produced every year, only outstanding vintages of top-selected grapes go into the bottle. The result is a sweet affair with crisp acidity. Almost like a chateau D’Yquem, yet different. Paired perfectly with a home cured & slow cooked Loch Duart salmon, Dorset crab avocado purée and dashi, it was my favorite wine & food match of the evening.

Antinori’s Tignanello and Sasicaia from tenuta San Guido has never disappointed me.

Torres’ brought his special Mas la Plana with its velvety smoothness this Cabernet Clon 15 had a distinct “Catalan” concentration.

My weakness for Moutons has to be acknowledged here. I loved the 1989 vintage! Baroness Rothschild was perhaps right when she said that “1989 was the best of the century”. I’ve had some Moutons before and this one was my favorite so far. My nose is always enchanted by its ‘poppy seed’ aroma and the elegant balance of a 30-something woman is what I seek in an outstanding wine.

Port is perfect to finish any dinner and the 1970 vintage of Graham’s was with a chocolate dessert what a well-fitting dress is on a lady with a great figure. Nice on this own (the chocolate), yet stunning when the earlier comes with it (the port).

That was a Dinner with a giant D. It is truly rare, that one drinks so many magnificent wines in the course of three hours! Literally, next year, I am going wherever the PFV annual dinner will be taking me.

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Without doubt, the people of Chablis, a region in Northern Burgundy, are proud of their unique wine made from multifaceted Chardonnay grapes. The inimitable characteristics of the crisp, fresh and charmingly mineral Chablis are hard to question.

Unless once someone will transport the area’s specific soil to another place, it may be hard and perhaps impossible to find an identical copy of Chablis. On one side, winemaking plays an important role in creating a certain style of wine, but in Chablis the soil is the main agent in creating such an exclusive breed of wine.

The ground in the area is rich in limestone overlaid with Kimmeridgian clay, distinct for Chablis.

Underground cellar in Chablis

There are four appellations (classes) in the region: Petit Chablis, Chablis, 1er Cru and Grand Cru.

Petit Chablis was awarded perhaps a quite derogatory term petit (small, lesser) for its simple fresh taste and thus it became the lowest, basic appellation in Chablis. It can please summer lunch drinkers for its uncomplicated and straight persona. If you are not a fan of rosé, this might be an ideal option for you in a hot day to bring a bit of breeze into your overheated entity.

The Chablis is anything from the area around the town which was not awarded a Premier or a Grand Cru status. These wines tend to represent a typical Chablis in its famed mineral coat. For the refreshing and sophisticated enough taste they offer, they are very well priced.

The Premier (1er) Crus are sometimes complex enough, that I would assign them a Grand Cru status. Nevertheless, they are a slightly better value for money for the orchestra of flavours they offer. If you want something interesting and do not want to strain your purse much then this is the right wine for you to try.

There are seven Grand Crus on the right bank of the river crossing the town of Chablis. All of them are set next to each other as a nicely-laid 100 hectares puzzle on the southwest side of a hill.

  • Bougros
  • Blanchot
  • Grenouilles
  • Les Clos
  • Les Preuses
  • Vaudésir
  • Valmur

Chablis Grand Cru

Wines from each climate (Cru) have a different character, so if you have an opportunity try to taste them all and find your personal favourite. The best though is a visit of Chablis. The village is charming with a maze of underground cellars seducing you to come in and taste some wines.

As in most cellars in France the tasting is free of charge. The generosity of the producers should not be exploited though. I would encourage everyone to buy a bottle (or two) if you really like some wine a lot, since the winemakers also have to make their living and what could the best reward for them than a satisfied customer willing to pay for their creations?

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Perhaps the most famous Charity wine auction on the world will take place on Sunday 15th November 2009 at the traditional covered market in Beaune.

This is the longest-established Charity wine auction which used to be run by the gothic Hospices De Beaune in Burgundy. However, since 2007 the prominent auction house Christies took over the organisation of the event that is  traditionally held on the third Sunday in November.
Hospices De Beaune

Historical background

Hospices de Beaune was founded in 1443 by Nicolas Rolin, Chancellor of Duke of Burgundy. Poverty and famine in the wake of the Hundred Years’ War in France lead this profound man to establish a hospital for poor inhabitants of Beaune. The income was secured from saltworks and vines. Today, the proceedings from wine production remain to be donated to charity.

Every year in November wines made from more than 61ha of vineyards owned by the hospice winemaker are auctioned off at a charity auction attended by wine lovers as well as wine merchants from around the world.

It is a prestigious event highly sought after by the most prominent wine connoisseurs and a great opportunity to connect wine and a good cause.

What is on sale

You can find a wide range of Premier and Grand Cru wines from Beaune, Batard-Montarachet, Corton, Corton-Charlemagne, Clos de la Roche, Mazis-Chambertin, Meurault, Pommard, Pouilly-Fuseé, Savinny-lés-Beaune and Volnay. The best of these are auctioned and the rest are sold at the adjoining wine shop.


Today, the hospital is just a museum and an adjourning Hotel-Dieu serves as a top accommodation for curious tourists.

If you can not make it for the auction, you can visit the “les caves” – wine cellars, and taste Hospices wines during a two hour tour or just their new “cuverie” – a wine fermentation room with wine tasting in just a one and a half hour tour. Both are encouraged to be booked in advance. (hospices.beaune@wanadoo.fr)

more info: www.hospices-de-beaune.tm.fr

tel: 33(0)3 80 2445 00

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vineyards behind Vosné RomaneéBurgundy, with its fresh and friendly attitude towards wine production, is perhaps the most significant wine region in France. Forget the heavy, old and pricey Bordeaux usually developing its full potential with ageing. Delicate chardonnay in whites and pronounced Pinot Noir in red wines guarantees a unique and harmonious experience.

Advantages of Burgundy over Bordeaux

As my friend, a wine connoisseur, said: “In this economically challenging time it is Burgundy which caught my attention. It offers high quality wines while the prices are kept much lower compared to Bordeaux.”

I took his words to heart and decided to explore it first hand. I packed my wine guidebook and boarded the plane from Heathrow to Lyon.

Gastronomic paradise

While landing I observed the astonishingly colourful landscape of Burgudy and a question popped out of my head: Is it Beaune, Dijon or Lyon who should wear the crown of Burgundy?

Beaune is surrounded by villages with pompous names like Aloxe-Corton, Pommard, Savigny-lés-Beaune, Meursault, Volnay… Not ringing the bell yet? Fine, more follows, Vosne-Romaneé, Puligny- and Chasagne-Montrachet. If we judge by wine, than Beaune is the king!
Vosne - Romaneé

Dijon is famous for its luscious mustard and Lyon for its outnumbered Michelin star restaurants (there are 37 of which three have three Michelin stars!). But if we talk about wines, it is Beaune and the villages around bursting with spectacular vineyards.

Producers around Beaune 

The town itself is located in Cote de Beaune just below the Cote de Nuits, home of Domaine Louis Jadot, Leroy and the most famous Domaine de la Romanée Conti. All of these are easily reachable within 20 minutes by car. Nevertheless, Cote de Beaune does not stay behind. Producers like Bouchard Pére & Fils, Domaine des Comtes Lafon and Domaine Bonneau du Martray figure on the labels of the world famous wines.

Bouchard Pére & Fils is located right in the centre of Beaune at rue du Chateau. Its best wines are Chevalier-Montrachet and the long named Beaune Gréves Vigne de l’Enfant Jésus.

A stone throw from Beaune is Domaine des Comtes Lafon producing Meursault from the outstanding terroir Perriéres where the first quality chardonnay is planted. It is a much better choice than the touristy Chateau de Meursault which has vineyards at Perriéres as well. I have tasted a couple of wines from this 11th century Chateau and was disappointed. Although, I really enjoyed sipping from the freely available open bottles while touring the 800,000 bottles cellar under the Chateau.

Where to eat

If your ever end up in Beaune try to eat at Bistro de L’Hotel offering not only typical Burgundese food, its Gratin truffles will blow your mind, but also a wide choice of local wines. The Beaune 1er Gréves 2006 –  De Montille was so tender and fruity, that we drunk the bottle before the cheese tray arrived! Though wines by the glass are also spectacular.

Youth is desirable

What is amazing about Beaune’s wines is that they can be drunk young while tasting gentle with a very low acidity. Even though there is not a single Grand Cru in the area, these wines won’t disappoint you. We all have different preferences and if your taste buds are like mine, the fresh reds from Savigny-lés-Beaunes will make you very happy.
vast cellars of Chateau Meursault

further info: http://www.lhoteldebeaune.com


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