Story and photos by Dwight Casimere
1. French winemaker Anne Parent of Burgundy
2.& 3. The wines of Burgundy
4. CBS-TV staffers at the tasting
5. Anne Parent
Chicago-Who would think that a conference room on the 37th floor of the AON Center on Chicago’s downtown lakefront could suddenly be transformed into the lush hillsides and limestone soil fields of the Burgundy wine region of France? That’s exactly what happened on a sun-drenched early winter afternoon when Anne Parent, vice president of the BIVB, Burgundy wine trade organization and winemaker and owner of Domaine Parent of Pommard, France paid a visit to Chicago to discuss her newest wine releases and the fabulous wines of Burgundy.
“First of all, Burgundy is the truly authentic home for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. In Burgundy, we like to talk about the identity of the wine and the speciality of the terroir. It is that unique combination of natural and human elements that accounts for the true character of the wine.
Parent describes herself as “the first generation of female wine makers,” in her native France, “which is the second French Revolution.” She brought with her a handful of wines from her region that she says represent the “new millennium” of Burgundy wines.
She is an ebullient spokesperson for the wines of Burgundy. The wines she presented at the Chicago tasting provided a celestial sampling of the region. All of the prices listed are approximate.
1. Domaine Thibert Macon-Fuisse, Bois de la Croix 2008 ($20)
Christophe Thibert uses natural remedies in the vineyard to work the soil to control grape yields in order to produce grapes with intense fruit and character. This wine has a lovely nose of honey, pear and apple and a great mouth feel and long finish. White Burgundy of this caliber normally costs twice as much.
2. Domaine Nathalie & Gilles Fevre Chablis 2008 ($20)
Grapes are hand picked and lightly crushed which produces a wine that gushes with the taste of crisp, green apples and hints of blossoming flowers tempered with a hint of steel and minerality and a nice acidity. This is an excellent wine to accompany shellfish, or a savory Bouillabaisse.
3. Domaine Gabriel Jouard & Fils Chassagne Montrachet 1er Cru, Les Chaumees, 2007 ($30)
This Chardonnay is amazingly intense with a great deal of finesse. It is brimming with apricot and citrus flavors. I’d love to pair this wine with a variety of salads. Soft, ripened cheeses are also a great accompaniment.
1. Domaine Manuel Olivier Bourgogne Hautes Cotes De Nuits, 2007 ($20)
This wine is made from “old vines” which gives it an amazing harmony and finesse. It has a bit of tobacco and leather on the nose and underlying notes of dried apricots and a subtle back note of sandalwood. Lamb or a loin of Venison or a delicious, aged Strip Steak are the dishes of choice.
2. Domaine Michel Sarrazin & Fils Givry 2008 ($20)
This 100% Pinot Noir is aged entirely in new oak. Michael Sarrazin delivers an elegant wine with supple tannins and a dominant flavor of ripe, luscious red fruit against a backdrop of spice and vanilla. This is a wine fit for a King!
3. Domaine des Beaumont Morey Saint Denis 1er Cru, Les Milandes 2007 ($30)
This is a lively, very complex wine with great structure and tannin. Rich, dark fruit lingers on the palate. This is a flavorful, full-bodied wine that is great to drink alone or with a prime aged steak. I bought a bottle, fully intending to give it to a friend as a Christmas gift, but it never left my study and now, it’s gone!
An after-seminar treat was an effervescent French sparkler, Parigot Cremant de Bourgogne Brut Blanc de Blancs NV ($21.99). It marries two popular white grape varieties from Burgundy, Chardonnay and Aligote, a rustic, ancient variety that dates back to the earliest days of wine production in Burgundy. This sparkling wine has a freshness and vitality that is unique. It has a beautiful honey-wheat color. It is also flavored with hints of bright fruit. One can almost visualize a scene like the one painted by the French Impressionist Monet, in his famous painting, “The Wheat Field.”
I once won a piano recital playing a piece from Book One of Claude Debussy’s Preludes for Solo Piano, “The Girl With The Flaxen Hair,”(La fille aux cheveux de lin). Debussy was a French musical composer of the same Impressionist era. Drinking the Parigot Cremant made me think of the delightful, sun-drenched image the music creates. You should try it sometime. It is quite transformative.