Like a birthday, a vintage commemorates the year grapes were harvested and transformed into wine. Some vintages present challenges, often caused by weather, that make the winemaker's job more difficult and impede the wine's ability to achieve its best and truest expression. (Who among us hasn't had a bad year and prayed for the next to be better?) But when Mother Nature cooperates and provides the ideal conditions, what a glorious thing for a winemaker! 2016 was such a year for Bouchard Pére & Fils cellar master Frédéric Weber.
Frédéric Weber, Cellar Master, Bouchard Pére & Fils
"2016 is a very beautiful vintage, allowing to fully express each terroir, with very good concentration (thanks to lower yields) and excellent acidity," says Frédéric. "In terms of quality we are pretty confident, the reds show a great definition of red fruits, they are expressive on the nose, and on the palate they are round and elegant." Regarding the white wines, he says "The 2016 whites are promising with great freshness, citrus flavors, they are generous on the palate due to maturity but with chiseled finish."
I recently had the pleasure of tasting through the 2016 vintage with Frédéric and share his enthusiasm. The wines impressed me with their elegance, expressiveness, and consistency. Not surprising -- founded in 1731, Bouchard Pére & Fils is one of the oldest wine merchant houses in Burgundy and one of the largest landowners in the prestigious Côte d'Or. Their acclaimed parcels total 321acres with 30 classified as Grand Crus and 183 as Premiers Crus. Committed to preserving the integrity of their land, Bouchard Pére & Fils has been devoted to organic and sustainable practices since 2000.
image courtesy of Bouchard Pére & Fils
Recently, I wrote about Burgundy's intimidation factor -- one could spend a lifetime trying to unravel the complexities of this prestigious and celebrated wine region. (I even made a case for using the proper French name, Bourgogne, instead of the anglicized Burgundy, but's that's certainly not a hard and fast rule.) But becoming a total wine geek isn't a requirement to enjoy Burgundy. Let the wines take you on a journey to these legendary French vineyards and experience for yourself why Burgundy is universally lauded for its exceptional ability to transmit the essence of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and terroir. The diverse portfolio and consistent quality of Bouchard Pére & Fils make them a great gateway to exploring the wines of Burgundy.
One grape with endless expressions, Pinot Noir is the grand diva of red Burgundy. Bouchard Pére & Fils has an extensive portfolio that showcases the various styles and nuances of Pinot Noir. Here are a few of my favorites.
Bouchard Pére & Fils, Nuits-Saint-Georges, Village Côte de Nuits 2016 ($65) shimmys across the palate with elegant oomph. A kiss of spice and long finish enhance its energy and grace. Hailing from Burgundy's most southernly appellation, its solid structure and tannins provide the foundation for aging but it is very enjoyable now.
Bouchard Pére & Fils, Gevrey-Chambertin, Village Côte de Nuits 2016 ($65) is from the heart of the Côte de Nuits - the area with the highest concentration of Grand Crus reds. Hearty and velvety with hints of fresh cherry, roses, and an engaging earthiness.
The rich and pleasingly plummy flavors of Bouchard Pére & Fils, Pommard, Premier Cru, Côte de Beaune 2016 ($90) show the influence of its chalky & iron-rich soils.
Bouchard Pére & Fils, Beaune Gréves Vigne de l'Enfant Jésus, Premier Cru, Côte de Beaune 2016 ($130) has quite an intriguing backstory. The name translates to "Vine of the Baby Jesus" and pays homage to an old story that a Carmelite nun predicted the birth of Louis XIV, in spite of his mother's sterility. Upon the birth of the future king, this special vineyard, measuring 9.68 acres in the heart of the Beaune Grèves appellation, was given to the Carmelites as an expression of gratitude. Bouchard Pére & Fils has had exclusive rights to this vineyard since 1791. Intense but delicate, this wine shows a beautiful interplay between fruit, spice, and earthy flavors.
Bouchard Pére & Fils, Le Corton, Grand Cru, Côte de Beaune 2016 ($150) hails from the historic Le Corton vineyard that gave the Corton appellation its name. The only Grand Cru (the very top of the Burgundy classification system) on the Côte de Beaune, this wine dazzles with it suppleness, strength, and regal structure.
The whites of Burgundy are ruled by Chardonnay. Yes, Chardonnay may be ubiquitous but it is Burgundy that set the standard for still & dry Chardonnay wines. The Bouchard Pére & Fils roster of Chardonnay shows the grape's capacity to convey a range of expressions.
Luscious with zippy acidity, Bouchard Pére & Fils, Meursault Les Clous, Village Côte de Beaune 2016 ($65) delivers plenty of wow at a great price for such a beautifully crafted wine.
The Chardonnay grapes for Bouchard Pére & Fils, Beaune Clos Saint-Landry, Premier Cru, Côte de Beaune 2016 ($75) come from a small vineyard with the oldest traces of the Chardonnay variety in Beaune. There's something quite spicy and sexy about this special wine.
If you've ever wondered what makes Grand Cru White Burgundy so special, Bouchard Pére & Fils, Corton-Charlemagne, Grand Cru, Côte de Beaune 2016 ($210) beautifully answers the question. Indulgent, elegant, robust, and vivacious - absolute ooh la la!
To learn more about the wines of Bouchard Pére and Fils, visit their website.