When it comes to learning about wine it doesn't get much better than this. That was our reaction when we recently attended a Santa Monica hotel seminar on the wines of Burgundy. The theme was 'Burgundy Wines--1000 years of heritage" and the seminar was conducted by Bernard Sun, with a knowledgeable but unpretentious style who talked about the history of Burgundy vineyards and wine making dating back to the Romans in 51 B.C.
And we tasted ten Burgundy wines, five whites and five reds, selected by a panel as the some of the 'Best Buys for 2008'. The wines were all in a $15 to $35 category. Sun described each wine as we sipped including the region and the characteristics of each vintage. We opened with a Cremant de Bougogne from Dufouleur Pere & Fils. This sparkling wine was a winner both in quality and with a $16 price tag true value.
We savored each of the four white wines that followed. A true Chardonnay from Domaine Pernot et ses Fils, a Chablis from Domaine Christian Morteau Pere & Fils with its traditional earthy and green apple aromas and flavors; from Macon a Pouilly Fuisse from Laboure Roi, another bargain at $18 and finally a 1er Cru Le Sentier du Clou from Domaine Sylvain Langoureau.
Used to California chardonnays that often are in the 15 per cent alcohol range we marveled on how full of flavors and aromas these Burgundy wines enjoyed in the 12 and one-half per cent alcohol content.
While tasting the wines Bernard Sun gave us a short history of the Burgundy region with Benedictine monks first producing wines there in 922 and later Cistercians monks in 1110. We learned about Phillipe the Bad who banished the gamay varietal from the region in 1395 and Phillippe the Good who established a Hospice in Beaune in 1443. (Being Good apparently allows an extra P in the spelling of his name.) Also how the French Revolution in 1789 changed grape growing and wine production in the region.
Then we moved on to the red wines started with a Bougogne Pinot Noir from Maison Albert Bichot. We liked this wine both for its soft earthy flavors as well as its $17 price tag. Next a Pinot Noir 2005 from Domaine Dominique Gallois with superior quality and price to match.
The wines were first from regional appellations, then Village appellations and finally Grand cru appellations. From the Mercurey Village a 2005 Domaine de la Croix Jacquelet. Another wine that rated high marks from us both in quality and price. From Cotes de Nuits Villages a 2005 Nicolas Potel which proved exceptional smooth on the palate yet robust flavors. And lastly a 1er Cru Beaune du Chateau from Bouchard Pere et Fils. The exceptional quality of this wine was readily apparent and well worth its $34 price tag.
The event was sponsored by Sopexa USA and took place at the Hotel Casa del Mar in Santa Monica. At the walk-around tasting some 64 wineries from Burgundy were present with their wines and representatives. A complete list of exhibitors and their wines is available at www.burgundy-wines.fr.
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