As we continued our journey through Bourgogne we visited the beautiful Domain Bouchards Pere et Fils historical cellars. This is one of the oldest wine producers in Bourgogne with an exceptional wines list and proprietor of very iconic vineyards within Bourgogne.
The weather was cloudy and rainy and unusually cold after the heat wave we had in Lyon, Beaujolais and the first few days in Bourgogne. We were early at the appointment so our hosts wasn't ready for us, this gave us the opportunity to watch some videos in the overly technological showroom. We learned the whole history of the Domain and the new course.
Founded in 1731 in Beaune by Michel Bouchard, Bouchard Père & Fils, is one of the oldest wine estates in Burgundy, perpetuating tradition for nearly 3 centuries and 9 generations.
In 1775, Joseph Bouchard acquired his first vineyards in Volnay in the famous “Les Caillerets” climat and started to develop the family’s vineyard holdings.
During the French Revolution, property belonging to the clergy and nobility was confiscated and put up for sale. Joseph’s son, Antoine Philibert Joseph Bouchard, seized the opportunity to extend the family’s vineyard holdings in Beaune including the famous “Beaune Grèves Vigne de l’Enfant Jesus.”
This desire to build up an exceptional estate in Côte d’Or endured through the generations and acquisitions in the best Villages were added throughout the 19th century and again in the early 20th century.
In 1820 Bernard Bouchard purchased the Château de Beaune, a former royal fortress built in the 15th century by King Louis XI.
Four of the five original towers of the fortress, as well as parts of the ramparts, still stand today and have featured on the list of historic monuments since 1937.
The cellars run deep underground beneath the property providing ideal natural storage conditions for Bouchard Père & Fils’ fine wines.
Up to 10 metres deep, the wines develop and age undisturbed. These include a unique collection of over 2,000 bottles from the 19th century. A priceless historical legacy with, as its icon, the oldest wine – a Meursault Charmes 1846 which still retains its luster.
Over time, by acquiring various terroirs with great care and patience, Bouchard Père & Fils has built up a vast domaine in Côte-d’Or. Today the estate boasts 130 hectares of vines, of which 12 are classed Grand Cru and 74 classed as Premier Cru.
Bouchard Père & Fils is an example of unique Burgundy heritage, offering great diversity and a raft of prestigious appellations: Montrachet, Corton-Charlemagne, Beaune Grèves Vignes de l’Enfant Jésus, Bonnes-Mares, Meursault Perrières… names that resonate with history, inspiring respect and encouraging the pursuit of excellence, with 4 monopolies and exclusivities among them. These remarkable parcels are meticulously tended by our teams who are responsible for the maintenance of the estate’s vines.
Since 1731, Bouchard Père & Fils has constantly strived to express the distinct character of the terroirs of Burgundy. With experience, the company has modernized yet remains true to tradition and always respects the beauty and timelessness of its environment. The terroirs’ purity of expression, hard work, meticulous attention to detail, creativity"¦.these are all part of the company’s family values.
Combining tradition and innovation, Bouchard Père & Fils works hard to bring out the distinctiveness of each successive vineyard and vintage, striving to make its wines exquisite works of art, each with its own personality and charm.
All over the world, the wines are served to mark important events, to awaken the senses and inspire culinary creations, delighting lovers of fine wine.
With a lineage of prestigious master-winemakers and experts in every trades involved in winemaking, Bouchard Père & Fils strives to understand each terroir, master each vine and to check each bunch of grapes which go into the fine wines that carry the estate’s label.
The estate’s configuration, extending as it does over 48 km from north to south with a mosaic of 450 different vineyards, protects Bouchard Père & Fils from localised weather events such as hail, storms or frost. However, this does entail having to have teams on the ground throughout the vineyards.
The multitude of vineyard parcels receives special care and attention all year round. Every Bouchard Père & Fils vineyard has been managed using sustainable viticulture for many years in order to bring out the authenticity and full potential of the wines. Bouchard Père & Fils’ constant attention to detail also continues at harvest time when the grapes are harvested by hand, placed in small crates, and then carefully selected on sorting tables.
After bottling, the ageing period commences. The Château’s cellars, also nearly 10 metres below ground, offer perfect conditions for ageing Bouchard Père & Fils’ wines.
Depending on the vineyard parcel and the appellation, the estate’s wines can be matured for over a year in oak barrel. Thanks to the natural hygrometry and constant temperature, the Grand Crus, from a young age, benefit from an environment which is perfect for long periods of undisturbed ageing, and they can remain for several hundred years after bottling in the protective silence of the cellars which date back to the 15th Century.
The subtle art of creating wine, where every step of the ageing process is carried-out with extreme care, contributes to the story of each wine, a story that unfolds with each vintage.
Currently the firm owns 130 hectares (320 acres) of vineyards across Burgundy, of which 12 hectares (30 acres) are of Grand Cru classification and 74ha rated as Premier Cru. In 1995 the Bouchard family sold the firm to Joseph Henriot.
Henriot is a Champagne producer based in the Reims region of Champagne. Founded in Reims in 1808, Champagne Henriot is one of the few remaining family-owned houses with over two hundred years of independence. Over the years, the house has cultivated an audacious approach and a distinctive, luminous style of its own, guided by the pursuit of the purest expression of Chardonnay.
2015 a perfect vintage.
The mild winter with low rainfall led into generally warm, dry and sunny spring and summer seasons, with consistent crop growth. The drought caused a certain degree of scorching, that we were able to control by deciding to abandon all leaf removal. The slightly cooler August temperatures helped maintain optimal acidity levels, and boosted the physiological activity required to complete the ripening process. The yields were limited by coulure (loss of fruit) and millerandage (incomplete development of the bunch). The harvest was of exceptional quality, producing perfect wines. The Pinots in particular are very generous and mellow, with a silky, delicate mouthfeel. The Chardonnays are rich and powerful, displaying unrivalled balance.
Emeline our host was very cordial and very knowledgeable, the winery is built around the Chateau de Beaune and we visited the two towers where we could enjoy the best view of the town; she walked through the cave under the chateau that offers a perfect environment for the bottle aging.
The wines we tasted were exceptional and I will write the formal tasting notes as soon as I will taste the wines I purchased. Hoping they survived the heat wave of the second part of June 2019, where the wines were exposed to extreme high temperatures When I spent 3 weeks in USA.
To the next blog as we visited Joseph Drouhin in Beaune one of the largest producer.