Don’t tell my husband but Pinot Noir is my first love. There’s something seductive about the perfume which changes from red and black berried fruits in youth to a slightly earthy, complex mushroomy character with age and an elegance and velvety texture that I just cannot live without.
Burgundy can be a nightmare to get to grips with - even for those who have been in the wine trade for years such is the complexity of the patchwork of vineyards in the Cote d’Or, but a visit to the region really helps with understanding what makes these wines so special. Meeting the growers, farmers and winemakers (which in some cases are one and the same person), observing their dedication and tireless toil to produce the best wines they can - despite Mother Nature’s best efforts to spoil things - is really something you need to experience first-hand.
In recent years the weather in Burgundy has been blighted by destructive hailstorms, rain and floods, thus the resulting harvests have been getting smaller and smaller. I spent some time with Bernard Repolt, the MD of one of our fantastic producers Remoissenet Pere et Fils last week and he thinks their harvest this year will be down 60% in the Cote de Beaune and 25% in the Cote de Nuits! Now, I don’t know about you but there aren’t many businesses that could survive if they lost that much of their produce. Despite this, Bernard is surprisingly upbeat, he’s lived in Beaune for his entire life so is well used to the ups and downs of making wine and is determined to succeed. Remoissenet aim for total control over a vineyard, to be able to influence quality at all parts of the journey from vine to wine, and they are looking more and more to take full ownership of vineyards to enable them to continue their push for increased quality and to be able to rigorously enforce the low yields they aim for (25 hl/ha). When Bernard took over in 2005 they owned 2.5 hectares of Beaune 1er Cru and they now own a total of 18 hectares so they are certainly heading in the right direction.
While I was with Bernard I asked him how he would recommend a wine or introduce someone to Burgundy and he believes that the key to it is that it’s more important to select your wine by producer than by village. By getting to know the style that each producer makes you’re more likely to end up with a really satisfying bottle - a fair bit of trial and error (and much tasting) is involved with this approach but it certainly sounds like an experiment I’m willing to have a go at!
Where to start though if you want to get to know Remoissenet a bit better? Here are a few suggestions from our range that you really do need in your life (and don’t worry I haven’t forgotten that they offer Chardonnay-based wines here too). Given my previous paean to Pinot Noir it seems fitting to start with the Meursault Rouge from Remoissenet - when did you last try a Meursault Rouge? (yes I did say rouge) These wines are pretty rare - red Meursault counts for one bottle in every 25. Most Meursault growers have grubbed up their Pinot to grow Chardonnay (which sells for a much higher price) - don’t get me wrong I love a bottle of white Meursault as much as the next woman but this red Meursault really got my attention when I first tasted it with its delicious berry and black cherry fruit, elegant mouthfeel and touch of earthiness on the finish - only three barrels were made of this in 2013 so it won’t last long. Get it while you can!
My next choice is the Saint Romain Blanc from Remoissenet - this village doesn’t get as much press as some of the more famous names in the Cote de Beaune, a great shame as the wines have never been better and this particular example is a beauty and highly rated by the critics. Saint Romain is a stunningly pretty village perched on top of a cliff and it is believed to have been one of the first places Celts and Gallo-Romans grew vines. This has a fresh citrus and green apple scented nose, some subtle tropical notes on the palate and a moreish sorbet like finish - the winemaker Claudie Jobard has done such a beautiful job here that the challenge is to stop at one glass!
Finally a wine to make you really reach for the corkscrew and truly some of Claudie’s finest work, the superstar that is the Puligny Montrachet 1er Cru Les Combettes. This is the champion of Chardonnays, refreshingly crisp and textural with the right amount of tropical undertones and the most fantastic mineral kick, it stopped everyone in their tracks at a recent tasting. Needless to say, with less than two barrels made of this 1er Cru in a good year it’s in very short supply so you need to snap this up while you can. These are the wines that will make you fall in love with Burgundy.