White Burgundy Staff Tasting
Here at Voyager Estate we’re pretty lucky. We’re always encouraged to constantly learn more about wine. So, when our winemakers organise a tasting, especially when they tell you they’ve, and I quote “raided the winery cellar”, come hell or high water, you just KNOW you’ve got to be there. And wow, what an great tasting!!!
Assistant winemaker, James Penton brought a 2-metre long glass-framed map of Burgundy, which came in handy as he started explaining how a slightly different aspect, position on the hill and/or soil type along the famous Côte-d’Or made such a difference to the character of the wines.
Some of the wines we tasted were from iconic family-run producers who have been working the land for many generations, over which time plots have been split amongst children, then grand-children and so on, so they are the product of grapes from only a few short rows within a vineyard that, itself, might be no larger than the smallest of our own nine Chardonnay blocks. In turn, that means often only one or two barrels can be made per year, and then only when the conditions allow for the all the grapes to be picked. When you consider the stream of bad luck that seems to constantly plague Burgundy (hail, storms, frost, heatwaves, disease), you start to appreciate both the rarity and the diversity of these wines.
Here’s a run-down of a few of the wines that left a particular impression on the group…
Jean-Louis Chavy’s Puligny-Montrachet 1er cru Les Folatières had a list of descriptors as long as the wine's length. The 2012 vintage was the first wine in our line-up and certainly didn’t disappoint in its freshness, but interestingly, was just as great in maturity as the final wine, made under his father’s name, Gérard Chavy , from 1999 vintage. Certainly one of James's favourites and a wonderful opportunity to understand how youthful character transforms over time in the bottle.
The Bruno Colin 2010 Chassagne-Montrachet 1er cru Les Chaumées gave a curious combination of chalky, talc-like texture, almost waxy weight and pure lemon blossom and pith character. Still amazingly youthful, I (almost) felt guilty we opened it!
Then along came the 2007 Bonneau du Martray Corton-Charlemagne. At 10 years old, it was as fresh as a daisy but far more complex! It stood out as one of my favourites, evolving in the glass and revealing a new character at each sip or sniff. It’s also one of a handful of times I've ever seen Steve James give 19.5/20 points to a wine!
There were some pretty oxidised and just downright old little numbers in the line-up too, particularly from the 2002 and 2001 vintages, allowing us to reflect on the enduring purity and age worthiness of our own 2002 Chardonnay, even as aged wine, and to appreciate benefits screwcap closures have afforded us.
Thanks must go to our winemaking team who have scrupulously sourced these wines over the years, stored them, then selected and generously shared them with all of us, but also to the Wright family who has created a culture based upon the pursuit of understanding at Voyager Estate and encouraged in each and every one of us a passion for all aspects of viticulture and winemaking.
~ Claire Tonon, Sommelier