Sunday, October 19, 2008

148th Hospice De Beaune Tasting at Christie' New York

Started 148 years ago by the Hospice De Beaune to raise money for the hospital, this annual auction event sells at auction red and white Burgundy wines by barrel to the highest bidder. This was just a promotional tasting event in New York to raise awareness of the auction and to allow the trade to get a taste of what lies in Burgundy up for auction. Buyers from Japan, the US, the UK and many more vie to take home the best and most prized barrels of wine from vineyards owned by the Hospice De Beaune. The Hospice, formerly a 15th century hotel called the Hotel-Dieu, turned into a hospital to serve the poor of the region and never looked back. Instead of monetary donations, the Hospice was quite often given a vineyard or plot of vineyard as a donation as the French in this region believed that if they gave a vineyard they would be guaranteed entry to heaven. What a brilliant idea because the gift gave every year by creating wine which could then be sold each year for use by the hospital.

Whites (Chardonnay)

2005 Pouilly Fuisse, Francoise Poisard2006 Pouilly Fuisse, Francoise Poisard
2004 Meursault-Charmes, 1er Cru "Cuvee de Bahezre de Lanlay"
2006 Meursault-Charmes, 1er Cru "Cuvee de Bahezre de Lanlay"
2004 Meursault-Genevrieres, 1er Cru "Cuvee Philippe Le Bon"
2006 Corton Charlemagne, Grand Cru "Cuvee Francois de Salins"
2005 Batard Montrachet, Grand Cru "Cuvee Dame de Flandres"

Reds (Pinot Noir)

2005 Beaune, 1er Cru "Cuvee Dames Hospitalieres"
2005 Beaune, 1er Cru "Cuvee Guigogne de Salins"
2005 Pommard, 1er Cru "Cuvee Dames de la Charite"
2005 Volnay Santenots, 1er Cru "Cuvee Jehan de Massol
2003 Savigny-les-Beaune, 1er Cru "Cuvee Arthur Giraud"
2005 Beaune, 1er Cru "Cuvee Nicolas Rolin"
2002 Corton, Grand Cru "Cuvee Charlotte Dumay"
2003 Corton, Grand Cru "Cuvee Charlotte Dumay"
2005 Corton, Grand Cru "Cuvee Charlotte Dumay"
2005 Clos De la Roche, Grand Cru "Cuvee George Kritter"
1999 Mazis Chambertin, Grand Cru "Cuvee Madelaine Collignon"

What a line-up! I will make this an annual event that I attend. This was for me the best Burgundy only tasting I have ever been to. Now, by Burgundy standards and representation of the region this is a drop in the bucket! Most of the wines were from the Beaune, known best for its whites and also for solid reds, and two wines were from the Cote de Nuits, known for the most complex and sought after reds. The vineyards of Burgundy are more or less named for the villages in which the vineyards lie. The designation Grand Cru is the best parcel(s) of the vineyard(s), Premier Cru, or 1er Cru, being the second best individual sections of a vineyard(s) and then followed by "Village" and then regional, such as "Burgundy" or "Bourgogne", the latter are typical blends of different villages from the Cote du Beaune or the Cote de Nuits. It’s the hardest region to get to know, but the best to discover as they have some of the wine world's most cherished wines and define terroir in the wine world. Burgundy is difficult to learn, not only because of the name designations, but there can be multiple Grand or 1er Cru versions of the same vineyard. Many of the vineyards are so divided because of inheritance that they are sometimes just a few rows amongst a large vineyard.

My favorite white was the 2004 Meursault-Genevrieres, 1er Cru "Cuvee Philippe Le Bon" which was graceful, highly complex and very intriguing because of a note juniper I detected but could not pick out what it was. A purchasing agent from a NYC wine shop said it was a note of Juniper that came from the trees the bordered the vineyard - now THAT is terroir folks! These were great chardonnays, classic white Burgundy!

The reds were all delicious and varied in style. We were treated to a 3 year mini-vertical of Corton, Grand Cru "Cuvee Charlotte Dumay", 2002, 2003, and 2005 - 2002 being my favorite. The 1999 Mazis-Chambertin, Grand Cru "Cuvee Madelaine Collignon" was a real treat and a testament to what a great Burgundy with almost 10 years of age can be like. My favorite wine was the powerful 2005 Clos De la Roche, Grand Cru "Cuvee George Kritter". A true example of what 2005 red Burgundy is like, the wine was powerful and complex, yet still light on its feet and elegant. This was my first Clod de la Roche wine I have had. They are quite rare and are in high demand. Thus they are expensive and sell themselves because of their reputation and are not typically tasted at a public wine tasting.

Tomorrow is the Zachy’s Fall Wine & Food Extravaganza! Talk about wine sensory overload!


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