Burgundy, Beaujolais Bonanza

By / Wine + Drinks / September 28th, 2010 / 1

We weren’t surprised to encounter some elegantly-structured Chablis and a bevy of outstanding white and red Burgundies at a recent outing. Chablis Grand Cru “Les Clos” 2008, Chassagne Montrachet 1er Cru 2008, Batard Motrachet Grand Cru 2008, Vosne-Romanee 1er Cru “Les Beaumonts” 2008 and Chateau Corton Grancey Grand Cru 2008 but a few among the many. After all, it was a tasting with Mark Allen, Area Export Director for Maison Louis Latour, a venerable Burgundy house with roots digging through over 200 years of history.

Luckily for us, Latour also owns the Chablis house of Simonnet-Febvre. Founded in 1840, it continues to be a traditional, independent winery that is still run this way, but now with the benefit of Latour’s international distribution network.

So we tasted some racy Chablis and elegant, complex Côte de Beaune and Cote de Nuits numbers. As mentioned, no surprise. However, it was the Beaujolias, of all things, that did surprise us.

Latour, you see, recently purchased the Beaujolais firm of Henry Fessy. A family-run business for 120 years, Henry Fessy’s vineyard area now covers 70 ha thanks to additional vineyards purchased by Latour. According to Allen, those at Henry Fessy figure the 2009 vintage in Beaujolais to be the best in the past 50 years, so it was great to be able to sample six “cru” Beaujolais from this vintage. “Crus” (nine in all) represent the top of the Beaujolais pecking order, above Beaujolais-Villages, Beaujolais and (most certainly) Beaujolais Nouveau. Crus are identifiable by the fact that they are named after villages (Brouilly, Morgon, Saint-Amour, etc.) and Henry Fessy specializes in these exclusively. Tasting the company’s wines restored much of the faith we’d lost in Beaujolais over the past little while. Right across the board, all of Henry Fessy’s Crus gushed with upfront, juicy, chewy fruit with varying degrees of spice, mineral and smoky notes.

If other Beaujolais producers can achieve and maintain this level of quality a Beaujolais renaissance might be just around the corner.

For more info on the wines of Henry Fessy, Louis Latour and Simonnet-Febvre contact Mark Anthony Wine Merchants.

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