We continue a series of sessions with the Francesca's at Sunset and Brannon's Cafe teams we are calling "Wine Study." We are meeting every other Saturday for the purpose of expanding our knowledge and experience with wine. Some Saturdays we have had to miss due to high business volumes at the resort or because I was out of town. No matter how long we take off; wine is waiting for us when we return. Our guide is Jancis Robinson's Wine Course DVD , Mrs. Robinson poured depth and detail into this television series that aired in the United Kingdom in 1995 it withstands the test of time! If you have not purchased this DVD series yet; do so now, it is really GREAT!
Episode 7- Pinot Noir is exciting like the previous episodes where we have seen personalities of the winemakers influencing the wines and/or the terrior of different regions in comparison. This episode we see the drama that unfolds over many vintages and a significant paradigm shift...
The show starts in a peaceful pastoral setting in
Burgundy, Eastern France, and Jancis warns us there are passions smoldering underneath the calm surface. She tells us about “Queen of ” who is in exile, “Pope of Burgundy” given up earthly matters almost retired and hints at the drama surrounding the creation of these "Bottles to Die For" coming from this world famous village; Vosne-Romanee! Burgundy
As dramatic as this all sounds coming from a breathless Mrs. Robinson it is nothing compared to the French Revolution. It is brought up here to explain how the vineyard plots are carved up into smaller and smaller segments with each generation. The French Revolution, with it's overworked GUILLOTINES, ushered in the Napoleonic Code which changed the inheritance laws so that all family members shared equally. Thus, when a person died with four children; each child received ¼ of the holdings. For a vineyard site that was two hectares the four children would then each have 1/2 a hectare. If each of them has only two children they will end up with a 1/4 hectare and within a couple more generations the family will be dividing up vine rows and then individual vines. Seems very fare to the families yet brutal to the vineyards and the terribly crippling to the making and selling of great wine.
Where ever some men make problems; others will make solutions. Out of this fragmented ownership came a robust system of negociaints. The good negociaint assembles wines from a variety of sources and sells them to customers and exporters/importers. Examples of negociaints are Bouchard Père et Fils, Joseph Drouhin, Jadot, Faiveley, and Jean-Claude Boisset. While these names we see the most on the wine shop shelves and restaurant wine list Jancis devotes many minutes to the noble grower producers. Because there are over 115 négociants who produce the vast majority of the burgundy wine; they only control around 8-10% of the area. Individual growers own 65-67% of the area, and only produce and market only 25% of the wine. Yet, when they become successful they become ROCKSTARS of the wine world!
|Pop-culture t-shirt honoring an old farmer!|
“I haven’t a SECRET; I let nature take its course. I am not a brave person and as nature does the work SO WELL, I don’t see why I should interfere.” -Henri Jayer
Lalou Bize-Leroy of Domaine Leroy is still rocking! She set the wine world on fire with sales of DRC to the Japanese market. When she was kicked out of DRC she founded Domaine Leroy which is now fierce competition to the old historic estate. All the while she remains in harmony with nature and practices BIODYNAMIC farming. This is a system of organic agriculture based on a series of lectures to farmers in 1924 by Rudolf Steiner, a German Theosophist. Biodynamics uses the principles of organic farming—no pesticides or chemical fertilizers—and goes on to include practices of planting and harvesting by solar and lunar cycles and fighting pests such as moths and rabbits by scattering the ashes of their predecessors. Sometimes looking a lot like 'witchcraft' it is often misunderstood. One thing seems to be clean the farmers practicing Biodynamics are highly focused on their vines and their vineyard and producing some OUTSTANDING grapes!
“I am sure that it’s for the GLORY of WINE!” -Lalou Bize-Leroy
With so many of these man made obstacles and the impossibly wet and cold conditions, remarkably; Burgundy makes some of the greatest wines in the world! You see; seventy million years ago Burgundy was underwater, this region was covered with silt, shells and bones of sea creatures that became fossils. Then thirty-five million years ago geological activity forced up the hills and ridges making fortunately east facing slopes. The combined effect with the people's wine making ingenuity; these breathtaking wines that can not be made anywhere else on the planet...
Then Mrs. Robinson takes us across the globe to the western coast of the USA for an International Pinot Noir Festival held in OREGON every year. Here she interviews two men; James Halliday, wine writer and wine maker, along with Robert
Which is a very nice segue into Jancis' short interview of the first man to plant Pinot Noir in Oregon; David Lett, founder of Eyrie Vineyards. He recounts a time in a class at UC Davis, our nations leading university for viticulture, when the professor said “There is NO climate cool enough for Pinot Noir in
|Williams-Selyem Winery, Russian River Valley 1981|
|Williams-Selyem Winery, Russian River Valley 2011|
If you will read this handout which has a few notes from the video and a lot of information and links to more on the web related to the topics Jancis covers, hopefully it adds to the subjects and fills you in on where the personalities from the video are today. It is my sincere hope that you are finding this blog informative and instructional.