November is Wine Month
The harvest is over - it is time to celebrate! The region of Burgundy has some of the most prestigious wines in France, and during the month of November, these wines are the star of the show. Let the festivities begin!
The picturesque region of Beaujolais made such an impression on me last fall, that I not only came back this fall, but have made it an annual event. The warm welcome of the people ... the rolling vineyards peppered with quaint villages ... the amazing restaurants ... and of course the wine - it all won me over.
This year I was back with my husband, who was equally enchanted by Hameau Duboeuf and the surrounding wineries.
The release of the Beaujolais Nouveau is this Thursday, November 17th. In the spirit of sharing and celebrating friendship, I hope you will be opening a bottle as I will! The French- American Chamber of Commerce of MN (as well as chapters in other states) always has a lovely event. Taste the Beaujolais Nouveau, as well as champagne and Grand Cru wines from Beaujolais at the cosy Playwrights' Center. Click on the photo below (with this year's label) for all of the event details.
On November 20, 2022 Sotheby's will present the 162nd annual Hospices de Beaune Wine Auction. That is quite a tradition! In fact it is the oldest charity auction and the most renowned wine auction in the world. People will flock to the Halles de Beaune for a chance to bid for these prestigious wines. They won't be buying bottles, but rather barrels, in which the wine will need to be aged for 18-24 months before bottling - a process they will need to manage as well. (A barrel can fill roughly 300 bottles)
Why the big fuss over these barrels? The Domaine has been built up over centuries by a succession of donations to support the Hospices de Beaune - a charitable hospital. The Hôtel Dieu or Hospices de Beaune was founded in 1443 by Chancellor Nicolas Rolin. Recovering from the 100 years war and plague, the poor needed a place to be cared for. Rather than a cheap, shabby hospital, Rolin wanted to build something that would endure. His masterpiece of Gothic architecture with its famous polychrome roofs is one of France's most prestigious historical monuments.
If care was to be free, how could the hospital pay for expenses? In 1457, Guillemette Levernier made the first gift of vineyards to the Hospices de Beaune, and this tradition was to continue for five centuries.
Today, the wine estate is around 60 hectares, of which 50 are devoted to Pinot Noir and the rest to Chardonnay. Entrusted to 22 winemakers handpicked by its manager, this exceptional vineyard accounts for 85% of premiers crus and grands crus sold at auction on the third Sunday in November. The Hospices de Beaune is now a museum (which is a must-see!) so the proceeds from the auction are used for the conservation of the building and medical research. Each year specific charities are chosen as well. The "President's lot" or charity barrel will go to 2 organizations for children: Princess Margot supporting children with cancer and World Vision helping the world's most vulnerable children.
"Les Crus" Basics
If you are a seasoned wine expert, skip ahead to the video of Pouilly-Fuissé! However, for a crash course of les Crus de Bourgogne, here are the cliff notes. First, let's take a look at "Climats". This placard in Burgundy explains it best:
Yes, that's right, the 1,247 different parcels have been declared a World Heritage Site. These are serious wines! Each , or wine-producing parcel is further classified in terms of its quality.
Appellations Grands Crus - about 1.4% of the total production. There are 33 AOC labels
Appellations Premiers Crus - about 10.2% of the total production. There are 640 climats
Appellations Villages - about 37.3% of the total production. 44 AOC labels
Appellations Regionales - about 51.1% of the total production. 23 AOC labels
As the Grands Crus are quite rare, you can imagine the prices are higher. Of course there are cheaper ones, but you can pay as much as $2,000 or $20,000 for a bottle! Once a climat is classified, it is usually set in stone. After about a 10-year struggle, the 22 climats of the appellation Pouilly-Fuissé, in le Mâconnais, were finally upgraded to Premier Cru.
My friend and drone photographer Anthony Litaudon is from le Mâconnais region. He was honored to make this film in celebration of Pouilly-Fuissé becoming a Premier Cru. You will no doubt be inspired to discover it for yourself. Enjoy!