2014 master class, then dinner at Bouchard Père & Fils

Good to magnificent 2014s, and fabulous dining with older wines

By Panos Kakaviatos for wine-chronicles.com 

This was an amazing event on Saturday 14 November, over the 2015 Hospices de Beaune weekend, even though the ambiance was bittersweet. It was a gathering to highlight the 2014 vintage and celebrate this grand maison, which was founded in 1731 in Beaune by Michel Bouchard. Bouchard Père & Fils is one of the oldest wine estates in Burgundy, perpetuating tradition for over 280 years and nine generations. You can read more about the history of this estate here.

The ambiance was bittersweet because the evening before, terrorists struck Paris with bullets and bombs: attacks that killed 130 people. The Hospices de Beaune auction was almost canceled, and you can read more about that here, which includes a video of auction participants singing the French national anthem La Marseillaise.

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Master class on 2014s

The evening began in the Orangerie of Bouchard’s gorgeous château, with a master class on the the 2014 vintage. 2014 is under-estimated, as it comes just before much coverage over the 2015 vintage. I had published a story about that in Harpers Wine & Spirit this week, but it is only for subscribers – a version of that story will soon be here in these pages.

I will soon publish also more tasting notes from the 2014 vintage, in particular from a tasting organized by the appellation of Gevrey Chambertin, along with many others tasted during the Hospices weekend.

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Welcome to Bouchard

But for now, we focus on Bouchard, as participants enjoyed a superlative dinner following the master class, with some older vintages.

You can read more about the general conditions of the 2014 harvest here. Suffice to say, it has yielded many magnificent whites, with some good to excellent reds.

Tasting notes : As usual, if in bold, I liked in particular. If red and bold, even more. And when underlined, too, akin to wine nirvana. 

Flight One: First part of 2014 reds

I was running a bit late, so did not take as much time as I should have to evaluate these, but they were all very good, especially the Volnay.

  • 2014 Bouchard Père et Fils Monthélie – France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Monthélie
    Shows fine energy and a brisk red fruit quality. I showed up a bit late for this master class so did not take as much time with the initial reds like this one, but it was fine: more proof that reds in 2014 can be delicious. (88 pts.)
  • 2014 Bouchard Père et Fils Beaune 1er Cru Beaune du Château – France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Beaune 1er Cru
    A step up from the Monthelie, showing both energy and more substance on the palate. Nice job. (89 pts.)
  • 2014 Bouchard Père et Fils Beaune 1er Cru Grèves Vigne de L’Enfant Jesus – France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Beaune 1er Cru
    Showing quite a bit of verve and energy throughout its red and black fruit flavor aspects. But here I wonder: does it lack just a bit of concentration, that one would get from vintages like 2009 or 2010? Not a let down, in terms of quality, but – given prices – I am not sure that this would go into my first picks for red 2014 Burgundy. (90 pts.)
  • 2014 Bouchard Père et Fils Volnay 1er Cru Caillerets Ancienne Cuvée Carnot – France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Volnay 1er Cru
    Like the Enfant Jesus, this is also showing energy and some high toned aspects. But there is more concentration to this, coming across as both elegant and refined and opulent and supple. Fermented with 30% whole cluster, maceration 12 days and aging in barrels, 30% of which are new. Nice job! (92 pts.)

Flight Two: Second part of the 2014 reds.
For me the number one highlight was the Clos Vougeot.

  • 2014 Bouchard Père et Fils Corton-Le Corton – France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Corton Grand Cru
    Once again, I get the impression of a red that is very elegant and vivacious but wonder about the concentration. In any case, certainly a refined red, and one that should be tasted again over time. (91 pts.)
  • 2014 Bouchard Père et Fils Nuits St. Georges 1er Cru Les Cailles – France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Nuits St. Georges 1er Cru
    This is one of my favorites from the Bouchard red stable and it does not disappoint in 2014: deep and elegant. A mix of dark and red fruit, with quite a bit of layers on the palate and a long finish, with lift. Nice job indeed! (93 pts.)
  • 2014 Bouchard Père et Fils Clos Vougeot – France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Clos Vougeot Grand Cru
    Funny, illustrious fellow tasters – let us begin with Michel Bettane for example – preferred the Clos de Beze to this. But I really liked the Clos Vougeot in 2014. Fermented in 50% whole cluster and aged in 40% new oak, this wine comes across with loads of grip, fine ripeness and finesse. Really a lovely overall expression with the energy of the vintage matched by concentration. (94 pts.)
  • 2014 Bouchard Père et Fils Chambertin-Clos de Bèze – France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Chambertin-Clos de Bèze Grand Cru
    This has a rather brooding character and seems to have much “going on” – there is an excellent palate feel of volume and density – but it was not coming across quite as elegantly as the Clos Vougeot tasted before. Perhaps I am misjudging it, as it comes from such a great terroir. But it seemed a bit expressionless to me, in comparison to the Clos Vougeot tasted just before. (92+ pts.)
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Some of these white 2014s were nothing short of amazing. Both of the Meursault Premiers Crus, for example… difficult to choose between them, so buy both!

Flight Three: As fellow taster Michael Apstein remarked, the 2014 whites were excellent … part one.
One really appreciates the quality in this first flight with the third wine, the Clos Saint Landry Premier Cru.

  • 2014 Bouchard Père et Fils Meursault Les Clous – France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Meursault
    A fine expression balancing acidity and substance. Smooth texture, with lift on the medium finish. Lovely wine. Pity that prices have shot up so far, but perhaps the improved dollar-euro exchange rate will buffer that for 2014. (88 pts.)
  • 2014 Bouchard Père et Fils Beaune 1er Cru Beaune du Château Blanc – France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Beaune 1er Cru
    This is a lovely white, crispy and lively but with density and richness. There is an almost floral aspect to the nose. Excellent. (90 pts.)
  • 2014 Bouchard Père et Fils Beaune 1er Cru Clos St. Landry – France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Beaune 1er Cru
    Even better than the Beaune du Chateau, this has more depth and substance but just as much energy. Lovely notes of orange blossom. Made from some two hectares belonging to Bouchard, a sunny location so they harvest relatively early. Aged in 15% new oak. (92 pts.)

Flight Four: A marvelous second flight of 2014 whites
Where to begin? I just adored the two Meursault Premiers Crus, leading to an amazingly intense Montrachet.

  • 2014 Bouchard Père et Fils Meursault 1er Cru Les Genevrières – France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Meursault 1er Cru
    Wow! Such lovely complexity with various flavors and aromatics, particularly for me herbal and chamomile tea, with a sense of opulence framed by lifting acidity. There is a breadth as well as length to this wine that beguiles. Great stuff! (94 pts.)
  • 2014 Bouchard Père et Fils Meursault 1er Cru Les Perrières – France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Meursault 1er Cru
    I did not think it could get better than the Genevrieres but it did. Well, let us say that the stylistic differences give every winelover a great choice for either (why not buy both?). This comes across as more precise, with greater verve, and just as much flavor. I suppose time in bottle may give the edge to the Perrieres hence a just slightly higher score. (95 pts.)
  • 2014 Bouchard Père et Fils Corton-Charlemagne – France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru
    A magnificent Corton Charlemagne, such precision and focus, such freshness, if coming across a bit reductive, but this is going to be very special – give it time in bottle. (94 pts.)
  • 2014 Bouchard Père et Fils Chevalier-Montrachet – France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Chevalier-Montrachet Grand Cru
    Here we have a gorgeous combination of airiness and intensity. White stone fruit, wet stone, floral elements, you name it, it has got the grand cru white profile, along with density on the mid palate ending with a long and lifting finish. Great wine. (95 pts.)
  • 2014 Bouchard Père et Fils Montrachet – France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Montrachet Grand Cru
    Quite a bit of intensity here, almost too much! But no, it is a baby and what I liked about it was its combination of opulence and precision. There is much juicy fruit, vivid layers of flavor and a sap filled mid palate that seems to tickle you to death with deliciousness, but the finish – long and intense – comes across almost rather forebodingly, as if a red wine. Something special for your cellar, if you can afford it… (96 pts.)
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Lovely dinner setting

Amazing dinner flight
A fantastic dinner, prepared by Michelin chefs Nicolas Isnard and David Lecomte, was matched by great wines. The 1959 was truly special.

  • 2005 Bouchard Père et Fils Meursault 1er Cru Les Genevrières – France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Meursault 1er Cru
    Combining both yellow and white stone fruit aspects, this wine has energy and richness, in fact more vivacity than I was expecting from the vintage. And a gorgeous match for a creamy squash velouté prepared with the savory Lardo di Colonnata from Italy. (91 pts.)

In the video, below, estate director Philippe Prost introduces the second course of the meal featuring the grand cru Chevalier Montrachet La Cabotte, from 2001 – a difficult vintage with storms and rain and hail. He had decided on whole cluster fermentation, for technical reasons. He explained, for example, that the stems were useful for draining juices in a more homogeneous way, and because stems in fermentation helped diminish negative influences of fungal problems from the harvest. Although the wine was made before Bouchard had installed new cellar space – and under challenging conditions, Prost explained, it showed that careful picking and winemaking yielded a darn good final result in bottle some 14 years later. It had been aged ten months with a bit more oak used back then, as compared to today. He avoided too much lees contact, to create a “clean wine”, Prost said. We all adored the match of scallops with the wine. A great pairing as you can read in my notes below.

  • 2001 Bouchard Père et Fils Chevalier-Montrachet La Cabotte – France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Chevalier-Montrachet Grand Cru
    Even better than the previous white, as it provided for an amazing – simply amazing – match with a serving of scallops in a smoky sauce, a kind of emulsion, with black truffle. This 2001 Chevalier Montachet La Cabotte, which gave off a smoky aspect as well, and a pulp of grapefruit freshness and impressive concentration and length. The food was prepared by Dijon based Michelin star chefs Nicolas Isnard and David Lecomte. A heavenly combination actually worthy of 100 points. (94 pts.)
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Super match with Chevalier Montrachet La Cabotte 2001

  • 1971 Bouchard Père et Fils Volnay 1er Cru Caillerets Ancienne Cuvée Carnot – France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Volnay 1er Cru
    For food and wine combinations, it doesn’t get much better (even if it was not quite as dreamily amazing as the preceding scallops and Chevalier): this proved to be a fresh and deep red from a vintage just after the Beatles broke up. I looked up vintage conditions on decanter.com for this vintage and discovered not necessarily ideal for reds. Although buds had burst early due to mild spring weather, the crop was reduced by a cold and damp June. A hot July followed, but August saw unsettled conditions, with storms and some hail in the middle of the month. Given such conditions, this was really good stuff. Anyone who thinks Burgundy cannot age is nuts. Served with a superb roasted Iberian pork, mushrooms, truffle and chervil. (93 pts.)
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Fine match for the 1971

  • 1959 Bouchard Père et Fils Volnay 1er Cru Caillerets Ancienne Cuvée Carnot – France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Volnay 1er Cru
    As I write this, I do not recall the cheeses served, but they were certainly very good. What I do remember is what great pleasure this wine brought – and how I wanted more and more. Coming from magnum bottles, this marveled all participants. With aromas and flavors of fresh tobacco leaf and mocha, the palate exhibited remarkable freshness. Some bottle variation. But all good. The richness of the vintage – a top one for Burgundy – enchanted the senses with eau de vie of cherry as well. This was bottled several years before the Beatles hit it big. Who says Burgundy cannot age? Amazing wine. (97 pts.)
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Amazing 1959

Many thanks to Henriot for the kind invitation, and it was so wonderful to meet friends old and new for such a marvelous event.

 

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