At a certain quality level of wine, which typically comes from wineries that have decided to spend the extra effort on selecting grapes from the best vineyard plots, hand picking and sorting the grapes, and letting the grapes express themselves in the wine without an over agressive human hand, you get shades of perfection (note that I am not talking about 100 point wine rating scores). At this high level of wine quality, the shades relate to your personal preferences in my opinion, but regardless of preferences, we all agree that the wines are outstanding. This week I was fortunate to taste 27 shades of “perfect” French wines from:
- Champagne Henriot (Champagne)
- Villa Ponciago (Beaujolais)
- Bouchard Père & Fils (Burgundy white & red)
- William Fevre (Chablis)
It is very rare that you would get to try these wines on their own, and even rarer when they are together in the same location for you. Below you will find some historical information about each winery (from their website) and a few of my favourite personal shades of perfect wines. You may notice that most of these wines are in stock at BC liquor stores and not specialty orders.
Native to Lorraine, the family relocated to Reims in Champagne around 1640. They worked as a textile and wine brokerage, and slowly acquired vineyards. It was in 1808, under Apolline Henriot, that Champagne Henriot was officially founded. Champagne Henriot became the favorite of the Dutch court, then in Austria and Hungary with the Hapsburgs. The family has concentrated on producing their wines from the Chardonnay grape. A few of their wines I enjoyed:
- Champagne Henriot Brut Souverain NV ($64.99) – Light lees, citrus and flowers on the nose. Light body, starting off-dry but finishing dry. Tiny bubbles followed with tasty apple flavour.
- Champagne Henriot Rose NV (~$72) – Light toast and strawberry aromas. Dry with light, small bubble. Nice flavours of flowers, citrus and strawberries. Overall this wine is quite flowery. Long length. Very nice.
Villa Ponciago is located in the Beaujolais region of France, south of Burgundy. The red grape, Gamay, is the primary grape in this region. Villa Ponciago can be traced back to the year 949, when the owner of the Château de Poncié donated his vineyard to the Abbey of Cluny. The vineyard consists of 120 hectares in total, containing no fewer than 40 distinct terroirs. Of the 120 hectares, 49 hectares of vines with the best exposures grow vines that best express their differences and characters, such as Brirette, Haut du Py, Muriers, Carcans, and Montgenas. Today I had a chance to try their Cuvee les Haut du Py.
- Villa Ponciago Fleurie – Cuvee les Hauts du Py, 2011 ($34.99) – Nice light red cherry nose. The minerality of this wine is evident from the first sip. Lighter body with red cherries and nutmeg hiding behind the fruit. Soft tannins with slight pepperiness on the finish. An elegant wine.
Bouchard Père & Fils
Founded in 1731 in Beaune by Michel Bouchard, Bouchard Père & Fils, is one of the oldest wine estates in Burgundy. In 1775, Joseph Bouchard acquired his first vineyards in Volnay. 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, extended the family’s vineyard holdings in Beaune including the famous “Beaune Grèves Vigne de l’Enfant Jesus.” Today the estate boasts 130 hectares of vines, of which 12 are classed Grand Cru and 74 classed as Premier Cru.
- Bouchard Père & Fils Puligny-Montracher Village, 2011 (SPECIAL ORDER) – Night light citrus, honey and baby powder on the nose. Soft with medium body. Light citrus, nutmeg and vanilla with a hint of honey. Nice minerality to this wine.
- Bouchard Père & Fils Mersault Genevrieres Premier Cru, 2011 ($98) – Nice fruit nose with ripe citrus fruit, honey, and nutmeg. Medium plus body, soft and round. Ripe stone fruit and honey flavour balanced with sweet spices, cinnamon and nutmeg. Very nice.
- Bouchard Père & Fils Chevalier-Montrachet Grand Cru, 2011 ($420) – Nice fruity aromas of pears, vanilla, toast and sweet spices. Medium minus body, soft and dry with a light mouth feel. Light citrus and stone fruit followed by nutmeg on the finish. ALso has a nice light mineral streak in the wine. Very elegant.
- Bouchard Père & Fils Auxey-Duresses les Duresse Premier Cru, 2011 ($42.99) – Beautiful Nose, of sweet red fruit, red cherries and vanilla. Medium body, dry and soft, with medium minus tannins. Light intensity red cherries and vanilla together with a flowery violet and nutmeg edge on the palate. Finishes dry. A beguiling wine.
- Bouchard Père & Fils Beaune du Chateau Premier Cru, 2011 (SPTY $47.99) – Very light intensity nose of sour cherries and light oak. Medium body, dry with violets up front followed by cassis. Overlain on both is a layer of minerality. This wine gets bigger in your mouth the longer you savour it. Medium minus tannins with a fairly firm finish. A quality wine.
- Bouchard Père & Fils Chambolle-Musigny Village, 2011 ($64) – Light smoky, dark cherry and cassis, and some wildness on the nose. Medium body. Quite round and mouthfilling, with rip red cherries, red berries, vanilla and sweet spices. Nutmeg on the finish. Medium tannins leave you with a dry finish. Nice.
- Bouchard Père & Fils Nuits-Saint-Georges Les Porrets Saint-Georges Premier Cru, 2011 ($95) – Nice light red candied cherries, nutmeg and vanilla aromas. Medium minus body, with light mouth feel. Violets, vanilla, red cherries, candied red cherries and nutmeg on the palate. Dry but with softer tannins. Very nice.
- Bouchard Père & Fils Beaune Greves Vigne de l’Enfant Jesus Premier Cru, 2010 ($115) – Light smoky dark fruit and vanilla aromas. Full body, soft and round with cassis, red cherries, and a hint of vanilla and smoke. Nutmeg spice on the finish. A wow wine.
1959 was the year in which William Fèvre declared his first crop, and marked the birth of the domain in Chablis. His family had lived in the Chablis region for over 250 years, and he started his winery with 7 hectares of vineyards. Over the years the domain has acquired new vineyards in Chablis, all located in the historic terroirs. William Fèvre has become one of the biggest land owners in Chablis with 51 hectares of prestigious vineyards, of which 15.9 are classified as Premiers Crus and 15.2 as Grand Crus.
- William Fèvre Champs Royaux, 2012 ($31.99) – Very light citrus and vanilla nose. Medium body, very soft and silky with light stone fruit and vanilla flavours. Some bitter almond / lemon rind on the finish.
- William Fèvre Chablis Premier Cru Montmains Domaine, 2012 (SPTY $55.99) – Nice nose with sweet vanilla and citrus, and a hint of nutmeg. Medium body, round and soft. Nice light citrus and vanilla, with a hint of nutmeg on the palate and some almond pit on the finish.
- William Fèvre Chablis Premier Cru Fourchaume Domaine, 2012 (SPTY $65) – Light aromas of melon and stone fruits. Medium body, soft and silky, with oak on the mid palate. Light stone fruit flavours that finishes with sweeter fruit and then astringent citrus. Very nice.
- William Fèvre Chablis Grand Cru Les Clos Domaine, 2012 ($130) – Light toast and flint on the nose. Medium body with some acidic prickle on the tongue; pears and vanilla flavours. Soft and round with some pepperiness on the finish. Very nice.