A visit to Burgundy during Les Grand Jours de Bourgogne.
By Louis Marmon
Gazette Newspapers April 16, 2008
Les Grand Jours de Bourgogne, a six-day exposition that highlights the wines of this fabled region, draws importers, merchants and Burgundy aficionados from around the world, occurs every two years. This year, mostly 2006 vintages were featured, with some of 2005s and older ones thrown in for comparison.
More than 700 Burgundy producers participate, dispensing samples of their wines and pleasantly tolerating questions asked in broken French. The tasting events were scheduled in locations throughout the region. A typical day included a tasting of Premier Crus in Volnay, a stop for Montrachets in Santenay, an art exhibit paired with Premier Crus at Chateau de Pommard followed by more than 200 assorted Grand Crus de Corton and Corton-Charlemagne in Aloxe-Corton. Add to the list a host of private visits to individual Domaines along with some exquisite dinners and it is easy to see that Les Grand Jours live up to their name.
The ’05 and ’06 Burgundies were both remarkable and very stylistically different. The 2005s are complex, powerful, with incredible balance and exceptional expression of their terroir. Most will not be at their peak for many years. The 2006s are more typical of Burgundy: softer, subtle, refined and certainly drinking sooner. Of the hundreds of wines tasted, there were very few duds. Nearly every producer was able to create amazingly multifaceted red wines true to their location and some of the most alluring white wines of recent memory.
Founded in 1720, Maison Champy is the oldest wine house in Burgundy; its cellars date to the 15th century. A negociant that purchases grapes through long-term contracts as well as a landowner, Champy has evolved in the past several years to become a consistently high-quality producer. President Pierre Meurgey is one of the friendliest people in Beaune, inviting us to a private tasting of his 2006 portfolio. Winemaker Dimitri Bazas’ numerous outstanding wines include the creamy Champy Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru Les Chalumaux 2006 that has complex citrus and tropical flavors with caramel in the long finish, and the full-bodied Champy Meursault 2006 that has a bit more spicy oak along with buttery apple, minerals and some nuttiness at the end. Multifaceted, spicy with amazing depth and balance, the Champy Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru 2006 is gorgeous. Other first-rate whites are the crisply citrus Champy Pernand Vergelesses 2006 and Champy St. Romain 2006, with lemon and stone notes and a long finish.
Their ’06 red wines are also well-made, such as the very approachable Champy Pernand Vergelesses Clos de Bully 2006 from a vineyard established in 1158 with well-balanced earthy, raspberry and red berry flavors. From the same village but more complex is the Champy Pernand Verglesses 1er Cru Les Fichots 2006 with rich mushroom, red cherry and cola notes. Violet aromas predominate in the excellent, full-bodied Champy Chambolle-Musigny Les Bussieres 2006, with deep soft red fruit and a prolonged ending. Floral scents were even more striking in the Champy Beaune 1er Cru Les Tuvilians 2006, along with stunningly bright red and dark fruit and minerals. Very complex and softer in texture, the Champy Vosne Romanee 1er Cru Les Suchots 2006 had cranberry, smoke and plum notes, while the Champy Pommard 2006 was meatier, with deep blackcurrant and chocolate flavors. Sadly, this will be the last year of the deliciously intricate truffle-scented Champy Corton Grand Cru 2006; the vines will be grafted over with Chardonnay to produce a more profitable Corton-Charlemagne in the future.