9th – 11th June 2013
I was lucky enough to visit a number of great wineries and Champagne houses last month with Nigel Wilkinson MS from Boutinot, Xavier Rousset MS, the owner of Texture and 28-50, Ronan Sayburn MS from the Dorchester Collection and Sergio Benito from Limewood.
Pierre Bourée winery
We arrived on Sunday 9th June and made our way to the visit the winery, Pierre Bourée in Gevrey-Chambertin village, North of Burgundy. Bernard Vallet has been the Winemaker since the 1980s so knows the estate extremely well and has a real passion for all the wines he produces. In the 19th century, Pierre Bourée took over a wine business, founded in 1864 in Gevrey-Chambertin, and gave his name to it.
They produce red and white burgundy, which age very well so I was really excited to try the Vergelesses Vallet Freres, 2011 and Mazis-Chambertin Grand Cru, Vallet Frères 2000, both of which I’m looking to get onto our wine list soon.
The next visit was to the Berthelemot winery in Meusault, Burgundy on the Monday morning. This winery is owned by Miss Berthelemot, a woman who lives in Paris and has always wanted to be in the wine business. The estate only started in 2006, but is already producing some very good wines. We tried a lot of wines, around 12 to 15, but the three that stood out for me were the Meusault Les Tillets 2009, Monthelie 2010 and Beaune Clos des Mouches 2011, the last two are now available to enjoy at The Vineyard.
We managed to fit in another winery that afternoon much to my delight and we’re welcomed into the Champagne house, Champagne Gremillet, Balnot sur Laigne, in the Aube region. It’s a family owned 35 hectare estate established in 1979 in a small village, about 45km from Troyes. They are really passionate about producing rich, yet delicate Champagnes. We tasted seven Champagnes in total, but my two favourites would have to be
Gremillet Brut Cuvee Prestige NV: 50% Pinot Noir/50% Chardonnay
A great blend with amazing balance between the vinosity of the Pinot Noir and the delicateness of the Chardonnay.
Gremillet Brut Cuvee des Dames NV: 100% Chardonnay
An amazing champagne with notes of toast and freshly baked brioche developing some ripe stone fruits and a touch of citrus balanced with a great minerality.
The perfect end to the evening was a visit to our fourth winery of the trip; Maison Lallier. Maison Lallier is situated in Ay in the Champagne-Ardenne region. As early as around 344, the Gallo-Romans discovered the region and its vineyards. In 1936, Ay became one of the first communes in Champagne to be classed as a Grand Cru.
The house is situated at the heart of the region of Ay, over vaulted cellars dating back to the end of the 18th century. Its name comes from René James Lallier, part of the 5th generation of a very well known family in Champagne. In 2004, Francis Tribaut, a native of the Champagne region and a talented wine enthusiast, took over the business and brought a new dimension to it.
I really loved the champagne from Lallier. As a matter of fact, all their range is only produced from Grand Cru classified vineyard. All of their Champagnes are all showing a great freshness and purity, and one of my best memories has to be a magnum of the Grande Reserve NV (65%Pinot Noir/35: Chardonnay) opened and blind tasted in the cellar. The Champagne was disgorged in 1998, quite a few years ago, back to the good all days of the football world cup… and when Francis Thibaut asked us what we thought about it, I think we all thought it was an old vintage champagne such as 1995. It was developing those lovely notes of hazelnuts and toast, yet still had a great balance and freshness. So astonishing good!
Our trip was nearly coming to an end, but we did have time to visit one more winery.This newly built winery is based in Oger, another Grand Cru village, just next door to the Bollinger winery. It was a very impressive, modern winery, but the people were traditional in their methods and really love their work. We had the exciting opportunity to taste and compare eight champagnes from four different vintages from bottles opened during their second fermentation. Four were closed with an old champagne method; the cork is closed and maintained with an ‘agraffe’
Lallier are experiencing 2nd fermentation with corks to see how the wines are reacting. And with crown; the cap used to close the champagne nowadays.
It seems that the crown closed champagnes are showing a bit more freshness and minerality.
All in all, it was a very exciting tasting!