Sunday, May 6, 2012

2009 Laboure-Roi Gevrey Chambertin, Cote de Nuits, Burgundy

"(as concerns wine) Buy on cheese, but sell on apples"

   I wonder, as I sit at home and sip on a bottle of Burgundian Pinot Noir, whether Armand and Louis Cottin (the owners of Laboure-Roi still remember the days when they worked off of principles such as these. Perhaps they do, as they walk the cellars that have housed their wines for over a century and a half, perhaps they nibble on a piece of Epoisses (Burgundian cheese) as they sip on the latest offerings.Or perhaps, now with over $70 million dollars a year in sales, they have hired someone to nibble the cheese for them?

   I chose to go the other route: I am muching quite contentedly on a Red Delicious apple as I try to decipher my notes from the FWS (French Wine Scholar) program on Burgundy/Bourgogne and make some sense of the vast region that is Burgundy.

   Now when I say that Burgundy is vast, I don't mean in terms on planted acres: Burgundy has a paltry 70,000 acres (approximately) under vine whilst nearby Bordeaux has many times that number (and thus produces over 700 million bottles of wines/year). But what Burgundy has in abundance is soil; Burgundy has lots and lots and lots of different soil-types. 

   "How many" you ask? 

   "Over 400" I respond. In fact, in all of France there are over 400 AOC's for wine... 101 of them come from Burgundy (as opposed to only about 60 in Bordeaux). And why the need for this staggering list of supposedly different regions? It is because of the climat as they say here, or the individual plots of land that contain more diversity and variation in soil physicality and chemical composition than any other wine region in the world.

   From one side of Burgundy (Chablis) to the other (Beaujolais) this is a wine-growing region that celebrates its diversity. Sadly, my home of British Columbia is only just starting to do the same, and though our winegrowing regions stretch throughout an area larger then all of France, we only count them as 5 unique regions.

But back to the Laboure-Roi, and Armand and Louis Cottin!

   Boldly going where no winery has gone before! Well, perhaps the nod to cult TV shows from the 1960's isn't exactly accurate, but not as far from the truth as you might imagine... an ancient winery by New World standards, Laboure-Roi was brought into existence in 1832 and has grown through a Revolution, two World Wars, and INAO to become the third largest producer in all of Burgundy.

   In all of Burgundy, and they still press diligently for quality.

   "How so?" one may ask.

   "It's all in the markets one hunts after." I think the Cottins would answer... whilst the rest of the wine world has been punished by a global economic recession the Cottin family business has grown.

   They have grown into the luxury market of cruise-ships, luxury airlines, luxury resorts and the like. A hard time for everyone, but those who have money, have money. True enough, they may want to make every penny count (every million?) but then, they always did, that's why they have the money. Take a lesson from our wealthy wine-geeks who delight in the resoundingly good value from this astute family.

   The proof? As always, in the glass my friends;

2009 Laboure-Roi Gevrey-Chambertin
$60-$70 USD
92-93 Points

varietal:  100% Pinot Noir, hand-harvested
soil:   brown calcic and chalk with loam; east and south-east facing
altitude:   280-330 feet

maturation:   14 months oak (30% new French); fined and filtered
production:   55,000 bottles (4,600 cases)
winemaker:   Bertrand Straebler
** Bronze Medal; 2011 International Wine Challenge***
  • visual:   clear; light to medium garnet core with substantial cherry rim
  • nose:   clean; medium to fully intense; youthful and developing; bright fresh red berries pop immediately with a nuanced garrigue or herbaceous undertone, warm earthy/mushroomy notes, leather and even a touch of old-fashioned black licorice
  • palate:   clean; dry, moderate+ (red currant) acids, moderate+ (substantial/grippy) tannins, light(+) body, moderate ABV (13%), moderately intense and youthful flavors that mimick the nose; red berries and oak rule the roost for the short-term. Excellent balance and structure, long length
  • conclusion:   an incredibly competently made wine that is still a baby; cellar for another 5 years+ for best results. Drink 2017-2020(22)
  • FOOD PAIRINGS:   you love boeuf bourguignon??? Well this time make it with extra cream, extra butter and extra love because this wine will stand up to it all and deliver! This isn't the time for subtlety, go over the top and watch this Pinots' crisp and lively acids find their balance!

Pinot Noir grapes in Gevrey-Chamberton AOC
   Anyone can make good wine, of that I'm relatively certain. Find a good plot of land, try not to mess with it too much, don't get too wild and crazy in the blending... good wine wants to be made (of that I think many of you will agree).

   And yet, it takes a rare winemaker who actually finds the right market for their wine. The Cortin brothers are more then just good winemakers, they are a part of great winemaking heritage, and they are also brilliant men of business. A better pair of role-models would be hard to find.

As always, I welcome your comments and questions.

CINCIN~!!!     SLAINTE~!!!   CHEERS~!!!