Vosne Tasting Club – a new tasting experience in Burgundy

drc cross & vineyard

At last Burgundy is going to have a true tasting venue, set in the prestigious wine village of Vosne Romanee, in the heart of Burgundy’s Pinot Noir region!

The concept is unique as this is probably THE only tasting venue in Burgundy (or even beyond) where you get to taste some of Burgundy’s best wines from the top estates.

It has taken a lot of time and effort to reunite the “who’s who” of Burgundy wine makers and to showcase (and sell) their wines. It’s a well known fact that Burgundy is so very different from other wine regions in France and around the world in that hit has many small estates with an equally small production, so you have that inevitable supply and demande problem. To complicate matters more, the majority of these estates don’t open to the public (they don’t have the time or the staff…)

The Vosne Tasting Club provides special themed tastings of famous “iconic estates” to the lesser-known but very good estates that may just have been “off” your radar!

It’s not just about the unique opportunity of tasting Leroy, Leflaive or other supser star estates, but also about discovering the depth and quality as well as the great value of many Burgundy wines.

To add to this, the venue is quite special too. Niched in the oldest buiding in Vosne Romanee – la maison Romane – which dates back to the 16th century.

It has been transformed into a beautiful tasting venue, hosting a cosy “club lounge” style tasting room on the ground floor, with sofas, armchairs and fireplace and two “cellar” tasting rooms in the basement.

Each tasting room can accommodate 8 -10 people for tasting. There is also a walled garden, for private events during the spring or summer.

The Vosne Tasting Club is also, as its name suggests, a wine club. Membership is free when you visit the tasting venue but also if you buy wines from our (soon-to-be) online shop.

The official opening date is March 1st 2019. But you can keep up with the latest news on this blog…

villa romane vosne tasting club

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To all wine lovers

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2016 pre-harvest review

Despite having difficult vintages in the past (with the exception of 2015) and despite a late frost this year which has blighted many wine regions in France in particular Bordeaux, our latest update is very positive.
Indeed according to Chloé Chevalier – president of the Gjpv association of young Burgundy wine makers and head of the Chevalier estate in ladoix (along with her father), the pre-harvest situation is very positive. The grapes are very healthy. There has been no desease and the harvest should start between the 5 and 10th of September.
This accounts for the Cotes de Nuits & Cotes de Beaune areas only.

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Grape juice or wine – a New Year detoxification dilema!

Ok so we’ve started 2017 on a positive, resilient note. New years’s resolutions and so on…

If you’ve decided to give your liver a detoxification treat, then that’s good news, both for your liver, your vital organs in  general and for this article in particular.

So let’s not go into the medical side of what’s good for a detox, that can be read elsewhere. Of course you can try many different cocktails that contain antioxidants: artichokes, raspberry juice (apparently the trend at the moment), freshly squeezed lemon juice in luke-warm water first thing in the mornng and so on…

But this is a wine blog and so we’ll talk about wine and its antioxidants and compare it to PURE GRAPE JUICE, which some wine-addicts may be contemplating.

So  I hear you ask, what is an antioxidant? It is a molecule that inhibits the oxidation of other molecules. Oxidation is a chemical reaction that can produce free radicals, leading to chain reactions that may damage cells. Antioxidants such as thiols or ascorbic acid (vitamin C) terminate these chain reactions. Generally antioxidants are found in most fruits and vegetables: cocoa beans, spinach, turip, rhubarb, whole grains, maize, arachid, fruits etc.

You’ll find tannins (another antioxidant) in tea, beans and cabbage as well as red wine.

The main antioxidant in wine is called RESVERATROL

 

Where do the antioxidants come from? The grape skins (tannins come from the skins and pips)

But let’s talk first about the grape juice:

This is made by pressing grapes WITHOUT THEIR SKINS to extract the juice, therefore grape juice is low in antioxidants. If they do use the skins, then they are cooked and therefore the level of antioxidants is greatly reduced.

Grapes are naturally rich in a sugar known as fructose. However in a bottle you’ll find that there are extra additifs, in particular glucides, which are sugar. you’ll find between 30% and 50% of the contents are pure sugar, with between 10% and 50% real fruit. Wine has less sugar in it the grape juice as the yeasts turn the sugar to alcohol during the fermentation process. Even though the alcohol is turned to glucose in the body, the effect of red wine on blood sugar levels is negligible.

All fruit juices are very rich in sugar, even organic fruit juices. You’ll even find that sugar contents in a bottle of fruit juice can be as high as a Coca-Cola!!!

And now on to wine:

To explain in a very simple way, red wine is crushed and fermented with skins, juice and pips, and therefore has a maximum amount of antioxidants. The adding of yeasts transforms the sugar to alcohol during the fermentation process.

White wine is where the grapes are crushed, the juice extracted and fermented without the skins and pips, which is why it is much lower in antioxidants.

Much has been said about the positive benefits of Resveratrol. An article published by the researchers de Renaud and de Lorgeril in 1992 showed that a moderate consumption of red wine protects us from heart disease by inhibiting the oxidation of LDL. Indeed it was often cited as proof of the “French Paradox”, where in the south west of France, despite a very rich diet (animal fats, foie gras etc) there was a relatively low level of heart disease, compared to northern european countries.

So which wines have the most resveratrol?

The most common grape varietals that have the highest level of resveratrols are: pinot noir, merlot, malbec, grenache and mourvedre.

If we are to classsify it by country, the order is: France, Australia, Italy, Spain, USA.

So what about the south-ouest of France? Well, they have a special grape varietal called le TANNAT which is the KING OF KINGS as far as resveratrol and polyphenols are concerned and can be found in wines such as Cahors, Madiran and in the hills of Saint-Mont and Irouleguy.

But lets make things clear, a healthy heart comes from a healthy lifestyle, with low stress, a good, balanced diet and a moderate consumption of alcohol.

After a festive period of over-eating and over-drinking, your liver needs a rest for it to be able to function properly. Take a break from fatty and sugary foods and even alcohol for 2/3 weeks. Forget fruit juices as they are high on sugar. And yes, a glass of warm, squeezed lemon juice instead of coffee first thing in the morning is a good idea too.

And when you do start drinking a glass of wine or two, think of the quality of the wine. Spend a little more on good wine and drink a little less. Be less curious about the branding and more about the winemaker and their winemaking techniques. Remember, the better the wine, the less chemicals are used and of course you’ll get less headaches too.

Cheers for 2017.

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What’s in a (Grand Cru) name?

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I have been asked by a (French) friend of mine to explain why some French villages are named after the highest appellation level of wine…a Grand Cru. Is it pure pretentiousness, vanity or just French priggishness…?

Well maybe a little vanity but more often by pragmatism.

The mast famous and significant village names appear notably in the Burgundy wine region, which is the most “terroir”- oriented region in France. In Burgundy the classification are geographically-focused whereas in Bordeaux the classifications (there are 6) are producer-driven and awarded to individual chateaux. For example, the  5 First Growth Bordeaux from the 1855 classification do not boast the village name except for one exception, the Chateau Margaux from the village of Margaux. Otherwise Chateaux lafite, Latour & Mouton Rothschild are in the village of Pauillac and Chateau Haut-Brion in Pessac.

In Burgundy of the Grand Cru vineyards , 23/32 have the village name attached.

Wine villages that give their name to wines, often with an iconic status, are rarely associated with the vines or vineyard. This is often because the name of a particular field or “lieu dit” existed before the land was used for wine farming.

In Burgundy, the village names are often in reference to the permanent characteristics of the countryside. For example the famous village of Meursault owes its roots to “muris saltus” or “the rats jump”, which in Latin indicated a rupture separating two sides, that of Meursault and of its neighboring city of Beaune.

The origin can also be of a religious connotation. The city of Beaune gets its origins from a Gaul God corresponding to Appollon and the village of Pommard’s name derives from an ancient temple dedicated to Pomone, the divinity of fruits and gardens.

Another example can be seen in the Village of Morey Saint-Denis. Here the name has several origins: Morey’s root name comes from “moraine” which indicates a snout shaped rock. Saint-Denis (a Grand Cru plot) belonged to the collegial of Saint Denis de Gergy.

Vegetation has a role to play too: the “clos des chênes” reminds us of the oak trees that one inhabited the field.

A human presence can also be taken into account with “mazis”,”corton”, “échézeaux”, “meix” originating from small houses, rural dwellings, gallo-roman ruins, farms.

Towards the middle of the XIX century and in order to enhance their reputation, certain wine villages in Burgundy decided to add their most famous vineyard as a suffix to the village name. Thus in 1847, one of the mayor’s Councillors in the village of Gevrey Chambertin, tired of hearing about the wonderful vineyard plot “Chambertin” and not of the village of Gevrey, decided in what we call a “light bulb moment”, to re-name his village Gevrey-Chambertin. The success was immediate and the neighboring villages followed suite: Morey became Morey-Saint Denis, Chambolle became Chambolle Musigny, Vosne became Vosne-Romanee etc.

To this explanation must be added the following footnotes:

One of the main reasons why Chambertin was so famous was in part due to the fact that Chambertin was Napoleon’s favorite wine.The first traces of his love of this nectar were as early as 1798. However, not wanting to tarnish the Great Emperor’s reputation, he made have been a great general and battle strategist, but his eating habits were not quite the par. To the surprise of many of his guests, he would devour the meal in minutes and dilute his Chambertin with water! Sacre Bleu might have been the appropriate cry!

In 1898, the town of Nuits sous Beaune became Nuits Saint George. The global appeal of the Pinot Noir wines from this district north of Beaune, helped the town to “seek independence” from Beaune. From this day on, there seemed to be a “Ligne Maginot” erected between the two districts and it was commonly known and discouraged for a wine maker or estate owner to cross the line to wed someone from the “enemy” district.

If some vanity (and a little humour) is what you need then think of the legend of the 5 Montrachet Grand Crus shared between the villages of Puligny Montrachet and Chassagne Montrachet:

  1. Montrachet
  2. Batard-Montrachet
  3. Chevalier-Montrachet
  4. Bienvenues-Batard-Montrachet
  5. Criots-Batard-Montrachet

The “Lord” Montrachet sent his son the “Chevalier Montrachet” (knight) to fight in the Crusade wars. Whilst his son was away, the Lord Montrachet fell in love with the fiancee of the Chevalier who became pregnant and gave birth to the “Batard Montrachet” (the bastard son of lord Montrachet. Unfortunately his son the Chevalier  was killed in battle. Nevertheless the local peasants welcomed the bastard son with cries “Bienvenues-Batard-Montrachet” (welcome to the bastard son”. The Lord Montrachet noticed that the baby cried often, and exclaimed: “Criots-Batard-Montrachet” (oh the bastard Montrachet cries loudly).

A la votre!

 

 

 

 

 

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2016 – climatic fury!

After such a great 2015 vintage, the “vignerons” in Burgundy were desperately hoping for a repeat performance with ideal climatic conditions. If past weather/vintage patterns are to go by, the 2016 should have been as good as 2006, 2010 or even 1996.

As fate would have it, 2016 has turned out to be one of the worst climatic disasters in the last 50 years. Just when the vines were starting their bud burst, the heavens unchained their fury and sent sub-zero temperatures, hail and high humidity from Chablis in the north of Burgundy to Macon in the south.Rare were the vineyards not to have been affected.

Half of the wineries have lost 30% of their potential yield with the other half losing between 50% and 70%!! If the north of Burgundy was hit by temperature of -6C in early spring, the south got hit by the hail on the 13th April.

As if recovering from the latest weather conditions was bad enough, the psychological scars are much deeper. With the exception of 2015, the last 5 years have also seen adverse weather conditions, mainly hail, destroy approximately 50% of all the vines. When the “vignerons” were wondering how to survive that drama, 2016 struck. There is question that the government might call this a “natural catastrophe”  situation. It would be a small consolation for an already fragile market…

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Why January is a bad month for business…

It’s funny, at the start of each year most people are very enthusiastic and full of new positive resolutions, both on a personal side as well as from a business perspective. 

However the reality is quite different. I have found the month of January to be very difficult, especially from a business perspective and I did some research to find out why small businesses like myself, are getting a tough time!

In January, people don’t pay the fees they owe, they don’t commit to projects and they don’t make decisions…why?

Because:

Some folks are still on holiday and putting off “back to business”

The cost of Christmas is still taking its toll.

End of year bills and taxes have torn into savings.

People have stopped drinking alcohol…which in my business is fatal!

It’s winter here in Europe and the weather is bleak.

It’s summer in the Southern Hemisphere, but having put weight on over Christmas, people keep themselves covered!

General morosity for music lovers (baby boomer gen) as iconic rockstars are starting to “push up daisies”

And of course, the IS are making everyone scared!

But never fear, it’ll soon be February. Good luck to small businesses and entrepreneurs for 2016!

Work hard & keep positive!

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