Thursday, April 25, 2019

Tasting at Vins Jean-Luc Colombo in Cornas, Northern Rhône - Rhône Valley Tour 2018 by ombiasy WineTours: Wine, Culture and History, France

Pictures: Tasting at Vins Jean-Luc Colombo in Cornas, Northern Rhône - Rhône Valley Tour 2018 by ombiasy WineTours: Wine, Culture and History, France

Vins Jean-Luc Colombo in Cornas, Northern Rhône, is a relatively young winery by French standards, established in 1987. Today Jean-Luc Colombo is one of the most progressive and influential winemaker of his generation and is nicknamed “The Winemaking Wizard of the Rhone.”

Jean-Luc, a native of Marseille, moved with his wife Anne to Cornas in 1982 to set up a pharmacy and oenology lab. Both are oenologists and they created the “Centre of Oenology of Côtes du Rhône” in Cornas in 1984. Jean-Luc has ever since been a consulting winemaker for some 100 of the best “Domaines” in the Rhône Valley, Provence and Bordeaux.

In 1993 Anne and Jean-Luc sold the pharmacy to focus only on wine. They purchased more vineyards and started to work as négociants in the region. The Domaine now has 30 acres of vineyard holdings in Cornas. The bulk of the entire production is through the négociant business, with around 30 wines, the biggest line being the Côte de Rhône.

I had met Jean-Luc Colombo in Washington DC, a few months before our visit and had established contact with Jean Luc. Jean Luc was not there when we visited the estate and the visit was a tasting only event.

Pictures: Christian Schiller and Jean-Luc Colombo at the French Embassy in Washington DC. See: Jean-Luc Colombo, Cornas, Rhône Valley, Presented his Portfolio at the French Embassy in Washington DC, USA

Palm Bay International/ Jean-Luc Colombo 

The wines of Jean-Luc Colombo are imported into the USA by Palm Bay International.

Palm Bay International: What happens when you combine a creative, adventurous spirit with an unbridled passion for wines of quality and character? For lovers of fine wines from France's Rhône Valley, the answer is simple: Jean-Luc Colombo.

"Jean-Luc Colombo has become one of the stars of Cornas. Well-known as an oenologist for dozens of Rhone Valley clients, Colombo has had a positive influence in the Rhone, undoubtedly improving the quality of many estate's wines. As for his own wines, there are usually three cuvees of Cornas. In ascending order of quality they are: Les Terres Brulees, Les Ruchets (from a specific vineyard), and La Louvee (formerly known as cuvee JLC) ." (Wine Advocate)

"One of the most influential figure in Rhone wine making in the last 20 years has been the Bordeaux-trained enologue Jean Luc Colombo, who advises many a grower on his wine making and has built up his own Estate at Cornas. Colombo's wines demonstrated what he preaches: they are impeccably vinified, richly fruity and heavily oaked wines without rough edges." (James Turnbull)

"Top 100 Wineries of the Year 2008" (Wine & Spirits Magazine)

"A Cornas wine comparable to the best grand crus" (Le Monde)

"Jean-Luc Colombo shakes up the Rhone Valley. A Cornas wine which is among the best wines." (Le Figaro)

"With his eloquence, his appetite for life, and his incredible ability to realize countless ideas, Jean-Luc Colombo is one of the most endearing characters of the French wineries" (Bettane et Dessauve)

Pictures: Tasting at Vins Jean-Luc Colombo in Cornas, Northern Rhône - Rhône Valley Tour 2018 by ombiasy WineTours: Wine, Culture and History, France

Wine Spectator/ Winemaker Talk: Jean-Luc Colombo
Posted: April 26, 2007

Wine Spectator: Winemaker Jean-Luc Colombo, 50, jokes that he's a bit of a Rhône outcast since he relies on modern techniques in one of France's most traditional wine regions. At the same time, it's hard to imagine where the Rhône would be without him, since Colombo was among the first to travel outside the area and not only aggressively market his own wines, but also tell the story of the entire region. Colombo grew up in a family of cooks, so he knew about food and wine early on, but at first he chose to be a pharmacist instead. It was a short-lived career move; he purchased his parcels of vines in the 247-acre Cornas region in 1986. From that humble start, he now makes his small-production, sought-after Cornas cuvées (Terres Brûlées, Les Ruchets and La Louvée), as well as a range of other wines, mostly from purchased grapes, reaching all the way down the valley to a $9 Côtes du Rhône.

Colombo has even begun to make wines from the Côte Bleue, near Marseilles, from old and neglected vines he found in a national park. The project is near to his heart since it brings him back closer to where he grew up. In addition, Colombo remains in high demand as a consultant, in and out of the Rhône Valley. But wherever he works, his focus remains squarely on making wines that work well with food. He took a quick break between tastings and consulting appointments to talk about his inspirations and his own influence on Rhône winemaking.

Wine Spectator: How did you first get interested in winemaking?

Jean-Luc Colombo: I was first interested in the taste of wine. My mother was a chef--I grew up in a kitchen environment, with a grandmother and a mother who were great promoters of the culinary tradition of Marseille. Not all winemakers have a passion for food, but because everyone in the family was a chef, all we talked about was food. Then, I really discovered enology during my pharmaceutical studies. I got a pharmacy license, and decided to open a lab. The lab was [similar] to winemaking.

WS: What makes Cornas so different from the rest of the Rhône Valley?

JLC: Cornas is part of the Northern Rhône hillsides, which is where Syrah comes from, and where Syrah gives its greatest expression. At the same time, the hills of Cornas benefit from Mediterranean influences, which bring a lot of character to the wine.

WS: And your wines from Côte Bleue?

JLC: That's very different from Cornas. Cornas is the best landscape and soils for Syrah--it's very porous. So we can have a good Syrah with a lot of aromas of flowers like lilac and iris. With the fruit it's black currant or licorice. But the Côte Bleue is more for Mourvèdre and Syrah because the land is chalk. It's also a peninsula--almost like an island. You have the huge Lake of Berre, maybe a 30-mile circle, and then south is the sea. It's almost like Long Island. When you're there it's always cool. Not cold, not hot. So the Côte Bleue is a very good terroir to grow Syrah and Mourvèdre. The taste of the grape is never too mature--it's always 13.5 percent alcohol. We never get 15 percent. There is no residual sugar, and we don't use irrigation, because we have the humidity on the leaves.

WS: You've joked sometimes that you're the most hated and loved winemaker in the Rhône. Why?

JLC: Well, when I arrived in the Northern Rhône, techniques were very old-fashioned, and I shook some habits (I use new oak, destemming, green harvest). Obviously, this did not please a few narrow-minded winemakers. Conversely, I did get credit because I contributed to improving today's wine quality and also because I myself invested a great deal to promote the wines of the area.

WS: Who have been some of your greatest influences?

JLC: When I discovered enology I read Le Gout du Vin, by the great Bordeaux enologist Emile Peynaud. In the early years of my career, I also got to meet Michel Rolland, who showed me the importance of the role of the consultant, when most enologists were only interested in analysis.

WS: What would you say is the main difference between someone like you and Rolland?

JLC: We share common ideas, but we have always worked in different wine regions, either different by size or notoriety. I'm very close to the thinking of Michel Rolland--I work like him, he works like me--and we are very close. He's a good friend.

But maybe the difference is I think more about the food [that goes with the wine]. The food 40 years ago and 20 years ago and five years ago is different. But the wine [has always been] the same. I love the fruit of the grape. When you eat the grape in September, the taste is of blueberry, blackberry and strawberry, and I like to find the taste of the grape in the wine, in the glass. I try to have the fruit in the bottle, in that glass of wine.

WS: How do you get that?

JLC: We need to be very clean. Clean cellar, clean barrel. You need to wash your hands, wash the baskets. Simple, but in fact, it's very difficult to be clean.

WS: What are some of your favorite things to cook and eat with your wines?

JLC: Very simple things. Like a truffle with a T-bone and marrow. Maybe not in summer … but very good in winter or autumn. Cornas is also much better with venison. And of course, Lièvre à la Royale, which is stuffed and braised rabbit. There is a very famous recipe--it's cooked for a long, long, long time, maybe 18 hours. The stuffing is truffle, foie gras, a lot of spice and good fleur de sel. Usually the hare is like a big sausage. You cut the hare in slices. It's the best! In the U.S. it's very difficult to find, but one chef who cooks it very well is Didier Virot at Aix. It's wonderful. It's a food to dream, because it takes so long to make.

WS: What is your favorite non-European wine?

JLC: Ridge, by winemaker Paul Draper. Usually you have to like the wine and drink it and you get pleasure, and that's it. The winemaking is good when you get pleasure in the glass. But when you know the guy--and we enjoy sharing food and wine with him--or the philosophy of the person, it is much better. I like him very much because he's very knowledgeable and he knows food and wine.

The Wines we Tasted

We tasted 7 wines, including 4 of Jean Luc Colombo's high-end wines.


2016 Jean-Luc Colombo, Côtes du Rhône Blanc, Les Abeilles

80% Clairette, 20% Roussanne, winer-searcher average price in US$: 13


2017 Jean-Luc Colombo, Saint Péray, La Belle de Mai

60% Roussanne, 40% Marsanne, winer-searcher average price in US$: 20


2016 Jean-Luc Colombo, Côtes du Rhône Rouge, Les Abeilles

60% Grenache, 30% Syrah, 10% Mouvedre, winer-searcher average price in US$: 14


2016 Jean-Luc Colombo, Cornas, Terres Brûlées

100% Syrah, winer-searcher average price in US$: 40

2013 Jean-Luc Colombo, Cornas, Les Ruchets
2010 Jean-Luc Colombo, Cornas, Les Ruchets
2006 Jean-Luc Colombo, Cornas, Les Ruchets

100% Syrah, Jean-Luc Colombo's signature wine, winer-searcher average price in US$: 79

2012 Jean-Luc Colombo, Cornas, La Louvée

100% Syrah, aged 22 months in new and used oak,winer-searcher average price in US$: 87


Rhône Valley Tour 2018 by ombiasy WineTours: Wine, Culture and History, France (Already Released and Forthcoming Postings)

Rhône Valley Tour 2018 by ombiasy WineTours: Wine, Culture and History, France

Rhône Valley Tour December 2017: From Lyon to Avignon - Wine, Food, Culture, History

Understanding the Wines of the Rhône Valley: The Classification - AOC/ Vin de Pay/ Vin de France

The Rhône Wine Region in Southern France and its Wines: History, Classification, Northern and Southern Rhône

Cellar Tasting, including from Barrel, at Domaine Éric Texier in Charney, with Laurence Texier - Rhône Valley Tour 2018 by ombiasy WineTours: Wine, Culture and History, France

Dinner at Le Bouchon des Filles in Lyon - Rhône Valley Tour 2018 by ombiasy WineTours: Wine, Culture and History, France

Dinner at a Bouchon - Chez Paul - in Lyon: Schiller’s Favorite Bouchons in Lyon, France

Cellar Tour, Tasting and Vineyard Drive at E. Guigal in Ampuis, Côte Rôtie, Northern Rhône - Rhône Valley Tour 2018 by ombiasy WineTours: Wine, Culture and History, France

Tasting at Maison Clusel-Roche in Ampuis, Côte Rôtie, Northern Rhône - Rhône Valley Tour 2018 by ombiasy WineTours: Wine, Culture and History, France

Tasting at Domaine Georges Vernay in Condrieu, Northern Rhône, with Owner Paul Ansellem-Vernay - Rhône Valley Tour 2018 by ombiasy WineTours: Wine, Culture and History, France

Dinner at Hôtellerie Beau Rivage in Condrieu, with Chef Chef Ludovic Mounier - Rhône Valley Tour 2018 by ombiasy WineTours: Wine, Culture and History, France

Cellar Tour and Tasting at Maison Delas-Frères in Saint Jean de Muzols, Saint Joseph, Northern Rhône - Rhône Valley Tour 2018 by ombiasy WineTours: Wine, Culture and History, France

Lunch at Restaurant La Grappe d’Or in Saint-Péray, with Chef Pierre Yves Jacques Sébastien - Rhône Valley Tour 2018 by ombiasy WineTours: Wine, Culture and History, France

Tasting at Domaine Jean Luc Colombo in Cornas, Northern Rhône

Vineyard Walk and Tasting at Paul Jaboulet Aîné in Tain-l’Hermitage, Hermitage, Northern Rhône

Cellar Tasting at Domaine Laurent Habrard in Gervans, Crozes-Hermitage, Northern Rhône, with Owner/ and Winemaker Laurent Habrad

Cellar Tour and Tasting at Domaine Combier in Pont de l’Isère, Crozes-Hermitage, Northern Rhône, with Owner/ Winemaker Laurent Combier

Lunch at La Grand Table de Michel Chabran, 1 Star Michelin, in Pont d l’Isère

Vineyard Tour, Cellar Tour and Tasting at Domaine Les Bruyères in Beaumont-Monteux, Northern Rhône, with Owner/ Winemaker David  Reynaud

Winemaker Dinner with David Reynaud, Domaine les Bruyeres, Crozes-Hermitage in the Rhone Valley, at Chef Bart Vandaele's BToo in Washington DC, USA/ France

Cellar Tour and Tasting at Domaine La Martinelle in Lafare, Ventoux, Southern Rhône, with Owner/ Winemaker Corinna Kruse Faravel

Lunch at Restaurant Le Mesclun in Séguret, Southern Rhône

Cellar Tour and Tasting, including from Barrel, at Domaine Marcel Richaud in Cairanne, Southern Rhône, with Owner/ Winemaker Claire Richaud

Tasting at Domaine de Cabasse, Séguret, Southern Rhône, with Owner/ Winemaker Benoit Baudry

Wine Dinner at Restaurant Hôtel Domaine de Cabasse, Séguret, Southern Rhône

Lunch at Restaurant Le Dolium in Beaumes-de Venise, Southern Rhône

Vineyard Tour, Cellar Tour and Tasting of Wine and Olive Oil at Mas Saint Berthe, Les Baux de Provence, Southern Rhône, with Winemaker Christian Nief

Dinner at Restaurant Benvengudo, Les Baux de Provence, Southern Rhône

Cellar Tour and Tasting at Domaine du Pegau in Châteauneuf du Pape, with Owner/ Winemaker Laurence Féraud and Cellar Master Andreas Lenzenwöger

At Pont du Gard: Lunch at Restaurant Les Terrasses

Cellar Tour and Tasting at Domaine de la Mordorée, Tavel, Southern Rhône, with Owner Ambre Delorme

Cellar tour and tasting at Domaine La Bastide Saint Dominique in Courthézon, Châteauneuf du Pape, with Owner Véronique Bonnet and Owner/ Winemaker Eric Bonnet

Tasting at the Caveau of the Perrin Family in Châteauneuf du Pape

Cellar Tour and Tasting at Château la Nerthe, Châteauneuf du Pape

Wine-pairing dinner at Restaurant Château des Fines Roches, with Chef Hugo Loridan-Fombonnet

New Year’s Eve at Château des Fines Roches in Châteauneuf-du-Pape, France

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Winery Tour and Tasting at Château Léoville-Barton, Appellation Saint-Julien, 2ième Grand Cru Classé and Château Langoa Barton, Appellation Saint-Julien, 3ième Grand Cru Classé - Bordeaux Tour 2018 by ombiasy WineTours, France

Pictures: Winery Tour and Tasting at Château Léoville-Barton, Appellation Saint-Julien, 2ième Grand Cru Classé and Château Langoa Barton, Appellation Saint-Julien, 3ième Grand Cru Classé - Bordeaux Tour 2018 by ombiasy WineTours, France

The 9th and last full day of the

Total Immersion in Bordeaux: World Class Wines and Exquisite French Gourmet Cuisine - Bordeaux Tour 2018 by ombiasy WineTours, France

started with a cellar tour and tasting at Château Léoville-Barton, Appellation Saint-Julien, 2ième Grand Cru Classé and Château Langoa Barton, Appellation Saint-Julien, 3ième Grand Cru Classé. Interestingly, while the wines of  Léoville-Barton and Langoa Barton come from different vineyards, they are made in the same production facility, side by side. In fact, the wines of both châteaux are made at Château Langoa Barton.

Pictures: Arriving

The Barton Family

The Barton family is able to trace its Bordeaux roots all the way back to 1722. That was the year that Thomas Barton left Ireland for Bordeaux. Like many successful owners, Barton started out as a Bordeaux negociant.

The first foray into ownership for the Barton family was in St. Estephe, with Chateau Le Boscq in 1745, which was awarded Cru Bourgeois status in 1932. In 1995, the Barton family sold it to Dourthe.

Also in 1745, the Barton family partnered with another powerful Bordeaux family to form a Bordeaux wine negociant company, Barton and Guestier. It was controlled by the Barton family until the Seagram Group got control in 1986. Today, Barton and Guestier is part of the international wine and spirit company Diageo.

The next major purchase for the Barton family took place in 1821. That was the year they bought Chateau Langoa Barton. Following the purchase of Langoa Barton, they bought a second St. Julien estate: Culled from the vineyards of Château Leoville Las Cases, that estate became Chateau Leoville Barton, a deuxième cru en 1855. Interestingly, because no wine making facilities came with the purchase, they were forced to make the wines at Château Langoa Barton. Until today, production of both wines takes place at Langoa Barton.

When Ronald Barton, who had inherited the family’s property from his father, who was tragically killed in a hunting accident in the 1920's, died without an heir in 1986, his nephew Anthony took control of the family properties. Anthony had already moved from Ireland - where the family maintains a home - to Bordeaux in 1951.

Pictures: Winery Tour and Tasting at Château Léoville-Barton, Appellation Saint-Julien, 2ième Grand Cru Classé and Château Langoa Barton, Appellation Saint-Julien, 3ième Grand Cru Classé

The 3 Léoville Chateaux

The 3 Léoville chateaux are the result of vast property broken up a long time ago. But up until the French Revolution, Léoville was the largest Médoc wine-growing property.

The story of the 3 Léoville estates go back to 1638. At the time, the estate was called Mont-Moytié, named after its founder, Jean de Moytié. Domaine Mont-Moytié remained in the family for almost 100 years. It is through the marriage of one of the Moytié women that the estate passed into the hands of Blaise Antoine Alexandre de Gascq, who was the seigneur of Léoville and a president of the Bordeaux parliament.

The groundwork for the split was laid in 1769, when Blaise Antoine Alexandre de Gascq died without an obvious heir. As a consequence the Léoville estate was inherited by four family members. One of them was  the Marquis de Las-Cases-Beauvoir. One quarter was sold off by the four heirs. A number of years later, in 1826, this part of Léoville estate was purchased by Hugh Barton and became Château Léoville Barton.

The other three quarters remained in the family. This was the state of affairs when the Marquis was succeeded in 1815 by his son, Pierre-Jean and his daughter, Jeanne. Pierre-Jean inherited what is now Château Léoville Las Cases, whilst the portion that came to Jeanne was passed onto her daughter, who married Baron Jean-Marie de Poyferré; this is the part that is today Château Léoville-Poyferré.

Although the estate bears the name of the Poyferré family to this day, it was not in their ownership for a long time. But it was under the ownership of the Poyferré family when the estate was classified as a deuxième cru in 1855 (as were the Barton and Las-Cases estates).

In 1865 Château Léoville-Poyferré was purchased by Baron d'Erlanger and Armand Lalande, bankers and local courtiers. The Lalande family, and later through marriage also the Lawton family, were in charge of Château Léoville-Poyferré until after World War I had passed. The Cuvelier family bought Château Léoville-Poyferré in 1920.

While the vineyards were separated, the buildings remained connected, just as they are today.

Anthony Barton and Lilian, Mélanie and Damien Barton-Sartorius

Anthony Barton was born and grew up in Ireland. After he got his educated in England, he headed to Uncle Ronald in Bordeaux in 1951. There, he started off in his family’s merchant firm of Barton and Guestier and met his future wife Eva, with whom he has 2 children. Athony and Eva Barton live at Chateau Langoa-Barton.

Picture: The Barton Family

Anthony Barton has already transferred ownership to his daughter Lillian, who is married to Michel Sartorius.

Pictures: Anthony Barton and Annette and Christian Schiller at the Fete de Bordeaux 2012. See: Fête du Bordeaux of Calvert and Woodley in Washington DC, 2012, USA

Lilian Barton-Sartorius and Michel Sartorius have two children who are in the process of taking over from their parents. Daughter Melanie has completed studies in agriculture and enology in Burgundy and Bordeaux. Their son Damien also put in two years in agriculture school, followed by studying at a business school.

Pictures: With Lilian Barton Sartorius and Mélanie Barton Sartorius in Washington DC 

Pictures: With Damien Barton-Sartorius at the 2017 Fete du Bordeaux Dinner in downtown Washington DC

Château Léoville-Barton

Château Léoville-Barton is a Deuxième Cru en 1855 in the Saint-Julien appellation.

There are now 47 hectares of vineyards at Château Léoville-Barton, planted with 72% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot and 8% Cabernet Franc. Vinification is performed in the cellar at Langoa-Barton, as there is in fact no château at Léoville-Barton.

The grand vin is Château Léoville-Barton, the second wine is La Reserve de Léoville-Barton. Total production is 20.000 cases.

Château Langoa-Barton

Château Langoa-Barton is a Troisième Cru en 1855 in the Saint-Julien appellation.

Located along the banks of the Gironde river, Langoa-Barton has 15 hectares under vine: 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot, 8% Cabernet Franc, and 2% Petit Verdot.

About 7,000 cases of Château Langoa-Barton are produced.

Château Mauvesin-Barton

In September 2011, the Barton family purchased an additional Bordeaux estate, Château Mauvesin, in Moulis. It is an estate with 48 hectares of vines in a single block surrounding the château. 40 of those hectares, which are planted with Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon in roughly equal measure, are in the Moulis appellation, the rest being Haut-Médoc. The property has been owned by the Baritault du Carpia family and their predecessors since the late 15th century. The imposing, classically proportioned château was built in 1853.

When the Bartons took control of the property, the extensive cellars underwent a quick temporary renovation. The Bartons installed 22 new, squat stainless-steel vats in various sizes, allowing increased precision during vinification and blending. For the harvest, the Bartons brought in a new tractor that offloads the grapes by vibration, a vibrating sorting table, and an optical sorter—a rare sight in Moulis.

Tasting

We tasted 3 wines in the tasting room next to the wine cellar.

Pictures: Tasting

The Wines


2014 Château Mauvesin

Wine-searcher aveage price in US$:20

A ripe full-bodied wine that has great structure and fine tannins. The bold red fruits are right to the front. It is a wine with great potential, generous tannins and the acidity of the vintage beautifully balanced. This wine will develop well. Drink from 2024. Wine Enthusiast.


2012 Château Langoa-Barton

Wine-searcher aveage price in US$:73

90 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate

Plenty of juicy blackcurrant fruit and background oak are present in this plump, medium to full-bodied, ripe, well-made wine. Not nearly as tannic as I feared, this wine shows a forward plumpness, excellent purity, texture and length. Drink it over the next 15-20 years. (RP) (4/2015)


2017 Château Léoville-Barton

Wine-searcher aveage price in US$:74

93-96 points Vinous

One of the few truly exceptional Left Bank wines of the vintage, the 2017 Léoville-Barton is simply fabulous. The 2017 also has the distinction of having a very high percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon. Inky crème de cassis, white flowers, lavender, crushed rocks, menthol and spice give the 2017 a distinctly layered, resonant feel. The 2017 offers fabulous density and structure, although the tannins need time. The blend is 93% Cabernet Sauvignon and 7% Merlot. The September rains were especially challenging for the Merlot and Cabernet Franc. As a result, Cabernet is pushed up in the blend, while there is no Franc at all. Tasted two times. (AG) (5/2018)


Total Immersion in Bordeaux: World Class Wines and Exquisite French Gourmet Cuisine - Bordeaux Tour 2018 by ombiasy WineTours, France (Published and Forthcoming Postings)

Total Immersion in Bordeaux: World Class Wines and Exquisite French Gourmet Cuisine - Bordeaux Tour 2018 by ombiasy WineTours, France

Total Immersion in Bordeaux: World Class Wines and Exquisite French Gourmet Cuisine - Bordeaux Tour 2017 by ombiasy WineTours, France

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Bordeaux Tour by ombiasy WineTours (2015), France

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Tour and Tasting at Château La Conseillante, Appellation Pomerol, with GM/ Winemaker Marielle Cazaux - Bordeaux Tour 2017 by ombiasy WineTours

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Bio in Bordeaux: Cellar Tour, Vineyard Tour and Winepairing Lunch at Chateau Beauséjour and Château Langais, AOC Puisseguin-St.Emilion, with Owner/ Winemaker Gérard Dupuy - Bordeaux Tour 2017 by ombiasy WineTours

Schiller's Favorite Seafood Restaurants in Arcachon and Cap Ferret (Bassin d'Arcachon/ Bordeaux)

Oysters in Bordeaux: Visiting the Oyster Farmer Raphael Doerfler and his Earl Ostrea Chanca Oyster Farm in Grand Piquey/ Bassin d'Arcachon - Bordeaux Tour by ombiasy WineTours 2017, France

Lunch at Pinasse Café, Cap Ferret, Bassin d'Arcachon - Bordeaux Tour 2017 by ombiasy WineTours, France

The 5 Premiers Grands Crus Chateaux en 1855 of Bordeaux, France

What is a Bordeaux Cru Bourgeois? France

Vineyard Tour, Cellar Tour and Blending Exercise at Château La Tour de Bessan, Margaux, Cru Bourgeois, with Owner/ Winemaker Marie-Laure Lurton - Bordeaux Tour 2018 by ombiasy WineTours, France

Cellar Tour and Tasting at Château Durfort-Vivens, Appellation Margaux, 2ième Grand Cru Classé - Bordeaux Tour 2018 by ombiasy WineTours, France

Tour and Tasting at Château Pichon Longueville Baron in Pauillac - Bordeaux Tour by ombiasy WineTours 2017 France

Wine-Pairing Lunch at Château Pichon Longueville Baron in Pauillac - Bordeaux Tour by ombiasy WineTours 2017 France

Tour and Tasting at Château Ormez de Pez, Appellation Saint-Estèphe - Bordeaux Tour 2018 by ombiasy WineTours, France

How a Barrel is Made: Visit of the Cooperage Berger & Fils in Vertheuil – Bordeaux Tour by ombiasy WineTours 2017, France

Tour and Tasting (from Barrel and Bottle) at Château Lafon-Rochet, 4ème Grand Cru Classé St-Estèphe, with Owner Basile Tesseron - Bordeaux Tour by ombiasy WineTours 2018, France

Tour and Tasting at Château Léoville Poyferré, Saint-Julien, 2ième Grand Cru Classé, with Anne Cuvelier - Bordeaux Tour by ombiasy WineTours 2017, France

Tour, Barrel Tasting and Family Dinner with Stefan and Heike Paeffgen, Château Le Reysse and Château Lassus, Vignobles Paeffgen, Appellation Médoc - Bordeaux Tour by ombiasy WineTours 2017, France

Tour and Tasting at Château Léoville-Barton, Appellation Saint-Julien, 2ième Grand Cru Classé, and Château Langoa-Barton, Appellation Saint-Julien, 3ème Grand Cru Classé

Tour and Pique-nique Style Lunch at Château Lascombes, Appellation Margaux, 2ième Grand Cru Classé

Tour and Gourmet Dinner with Wine-pairing at Château Haut-Bailly, Appellation Pessac-Léognan, Grand Cru Classé, with Daina Paulin

Tour and Wine Dinner at Château Haut-Bailly, Graves, Appellation Pessac-Léognan, Grand Cru Classé - Bordeaux Tour by ombiasy WineTours 2017, France

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Winemaker Dinner with Managing Director Frédéric Mairesse and his Champagnes Barons de Rothschild at The George Town Club in Washington DC, USA

Pictures: Winemaker Dinner with Managing Director Frédéric Mairesse and his Champagnes Barons de Rothschild at The George Town Club in Washington DC, USA

Champagne Barons de Rothschild is a very young Champagne House, founded in 2005 only. It is a joint venture of three branches of the Rothschild family. Its Managing Director, Frédéric Mairesse, was in town (Washington DC) and I had the please of attending a winemaker dinner with him that Calvert and Woodley, a leading wine store in Washington DC, organized at the prestigious The George Town Club.

Picture: Winemaker Dinner with Managing Director Frédéric Mairesse and his Champagnes Barons de Rothschild at The George Town Club in Washington DC, USA

Invitation

Please join us in welcoming Frédéric Mairesse, managing director of Champagne Barons de Rothschild, to Washington, DC! There is no more hallowed name in the world of wine than that of Barons de Rothschild, the family owners of Château Lafite Rothschild, Mouton Rothschild, and numerous great estates around the world. This extraordinary Champagne house is a joint venture of all three branches of the Rothschild family. When planning the production of its Champagne, the Rothschild family approached the very best winemakers and established a team of experts with an impressive track record. Foremost among them was an expert connoisseur of Champagne houses and wine in general.

Pictures: The George Town Club

This 4-course dinner will feature the entire line of Barons de Rothschild Champagne and will be held at the illustrious George Town Club, established in 1966 and patterned after the finest clubs in London and Paris. Please join us for what is sure to be a spectacular evening!

Champage and ombiasy WineTours

Annette Schiller and I visit regulary the Champagne region, as part of the Bourgogne/ Champagne tours by ombiasy WineTours. These tours start in Lyon and end in Paris and cover the Beaujolais, Bourgogne, Chablis and Champagne areas. Chamapagne producers that we have visited recently include the following.

Champagne – An Introduction, France
French Champagne Houses and German Roots

Pictures: Cellar Visit and Tasting at the Champagner House Taittinger in Reims, Champagne - Burgundy (and Champagne) 2016 Tour by ombiasy WineTours

Pictures: Cellar Visit and Tasting at the Champagne House AR Lenoble in Epernay, with Christian Holthausen - Burgundy (and Champagne) 2016 Tour by ombiasy WineTours

Pictures: Visit and Tasting at Champagne Jean Josselin, a Grower Champagne House in Gyé­ sur­ Seine – Bourgogne (and Champagne) Tour 2016 by ombiasy WineTours, France

Champagne Barons de Rothschild

The Rothschild family has long been involved in numerous wine projects around the world, including their namesake Bordeaux.

In 2005 the three branches of the Rothschild family have come together and given rise to a single ambition: combine the best terroirs with their know-how to create champagne Barons de Rothschild.

The three Rothschild cousins – Baron Benjamin, a Geneva banker who also owns Chateau Clarke, Baron Eric, owner of Chateau Lafite and several other estates and Baroness Philippine along with her son Philippe Sereys de Rothschild, owners of Chateau Mouton – wanted the champagnes to enter their heavy portfolio of wines and spotted the ideal place for the production in the Cave Vertus in Reims.

Thus, they created three champagnes cuvées: Barons de Rothschild Brut, Barons de Rothschild Blanc de Blancs andBarons de Rothschild Rosé.

The Barons de Rothschild started the champagne production with the ambition to do the best quality champagne they can.

One of their important first steps was to locate adequate supply of quality grapes, especially Chardonnay, which is what they wanted for the primary base of their champagnes.

This was a bold choice for a new House, as Chardonnay is the most scarce and most expensive grape in Champagne.

They wanted to purchase their own vineyards, but they needed to find a sufficiently large vineyard – at least 10-15 acres – while they found some very small plots and they did not like the idea to have a collection of tiny plots scattered about.

Eventually, they discovered what they sought in the Côtes des Blanc region, and settled long term contracts with selected vignerons in the finest Grands and Premiers Crus areas.

They began selling their champagnes in 2009, selecting Japan as their initial market, as all three branches of the family had connections in this country.

After Japan, the Rothschilds began selling their champagnes in Switzerland and Belgium, both which proved very good markets.

They are continuing to expand their distribution and sell about 250,000 bottles annually. They are now trying to expand into the U.S..

As part of their plans, they have chosen to serve their champagne at all of their formal events and functions, worldwide, to stand behind their product.

Managing Director of the House is Frédéric Mairesse who has been previously Operations Director at LVMH, at Mumm et Perrier Joüet and at Pommery & Lanson.

The first Chef de Cave has been Jean-Philippe Moulin (former Chef de Cave of Ruinart) until 2015 when Guillaume Lete, Deputy Chef de Cave for several years, took over.

Picture: Winemaker Dinner with Managing Director Frédéric Mairesse and his Champagnes Barons de Rothschild at The George Town Club in Washington DC, USA

The champagnes of Barons de Rothschild are quality wines, which can stand head next to comparable champagnes of the major Champagne Houses.

All the Barons de Rothschild cuvées include some of the best Chardonnays of Champagne, contributing to their elegant, light and refined style. They are matured all for at least four years in the cellars, for a richer expression.

The first champagnes produced were Barons de Rothschild Brut, Barons de Rothschild Blanc de Blancs, and Barons de Rothschild Rosé.

Their blends include about 40% of reserve wine and receive a low dosage of about 6-8 grams per liter to be more palatable but without hiding the expression of their terroirs.

Barons de Rothschild Extra Brut was later added to the range. This champagne, with its very low dosage only 3 g/l is kept for further 9 to 12 months after disgorging, offering a balanced structure on the palate.

Finally, a Barons de Rothschild Vintage (2008, a great year in Champagne) was released, incarnating the elegance of an exceptional year for Chardonnay.

Picture: Winemaker Dinner with Managing Director Frédéric Mairesse and his Champagnes Barons de Rothschild at The George Town Club in Washington DC, USA

Interview With Frédéric Mairesse

Best Champagne: What is the story behind the Rothschild’s family involvement in the world of champagne, a dynasty usually very present in banking?

Frédéric Mairesse: The Rothschild’s family has been passionate about champagne for a long time. After the war when the Ruinart House was experiencing difficulties, Bertrand Mure the owner of the house met with Philippe de Rothschild to ask him to help support their development. Philippe de Rothschild liked the project very much and invested in the house. Ruinart even made a Baron Philippe de Rothschild cuvée.

Then the Ruinart House started to do business with the Moët & Chandon House and Philippe de Rothschild got close to the Henriot House who made the Baron Philippe de Rothschild champagne for 15 years.

When M. Rothschild passed away, the project was cancelled.In 2000 and the following years, Eric de Rothschild wanted to buy Krug. The 3rd cousin Benjamin could have also bought another Champagne House. Eventually they decided to create their own champagne, as they have a strong name, a rather developed distribution network and the means to do things properly.

Since they were not experts in producing champagne, they contacted people living in the Champagne area and found out that it was easier to produce champagnes with more Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier as these varieties were the easiest to get.

On further consideration, they took the consultants’ opposite view and decided to produce cuvées that were made with a lot of Chardonnay, more complicated and more expensive. When you are Rothschild, you can’t do like everyone else does. But this way you can’t produce millions of bottles. This was fine with them as they prefer producing less but with a focus on a very high quality.

The Barons De Rothschild Champagne House was created in 2005. The first grapes supplies were not easy to get as there was a strong demand on purchase. But we received help from the family’s friends such as Paul Roger, Billecart Salmon and Bollinger.

This way we were able to get in contact with winegrowers and the fact that the Rothschild family is a “terroir” family, a family of Bordeaux winegrowers and that for over a 100 years they have always respected their contract on all the financial elements reassured them.

The first vinifications started in 2005, and the first bottles of Barons de Rothschild brut champagne were sold late 2009: a Blanc De Blancs, a Rosé and a Brut. The Brut is made of 60% Chardonnay and 40% Pinot Noir. The Blanc De Blancs comes from Great Vintages such as Mesnil, Avise, Cramant and Oger. The blending of the Rosé is based on 85% Chardonnay and 15% Pinot Noir.

The House strategy is based on white grapes (Chardonnay); on small volumes; and on a perfect qualitye, because it is very important for the Rothschild family to make quality wine especially for themselves as they consume quite a fair bit of champagne. The family consumes 150 bottles a day.

Pictures: Executive Chef Paul Stearman

Pictures: At Marcel's in Washington DC with Sommelier Moez Ben Achour, Christian Schiller, Jean-François Bordet and Chef Paul Stearman. See: Pure Chablis – A tête-à-tête Dinner in Washington DC at Marcel’s with Chablis Wine Board President and Winemaker Jean-François Bordet, Domaine Séguinot-Bordet, USA/France

Barons, friends, bank customers consume 25,000 to 30,000 bottles a year in 60 countries worldwide. Since 2009 they only drink the family’s champagne whereas before they were more inclined towards Krug, Pol Roger and Roederer.

BC: The Barons De Rothschild House doesn’t use Pinot Meunier at all?

FM: No we don’t.

BC: What does a customer find in a bottle of Barons De Rothschild champagne?

FM: He will find the assurance and the guarantee to have a great quality champagne. The Rothschild family has a passion for quality and a clear view: to have a successful House in the Champagne area with small volumes.

Shareholders tell me: “Let’s do what we can to make really good champagnes, and don’t compromise on quality. It doesn’t matter if it’s more expensive to make.”

Champagne Barons de Rothschild is a small team, everything is handmade.

Our Cellar Master is Jean Philippe Moulin who previously worked in the same position at Ruinart. He is a highly skilled expert, and had done almost 40 vinifications before he joined Champagne Barons de Rothschild.

A young oenologist is working with Jean Philippe Moulin so we make sure there will be continuity when he retires.

BC: When can we expect the first Barons De Rothschild vintage cuvée?

FM: The first vintage will be the 2006 and should be available for sale in 2014 or 2015. We strive to do a great vintage in the style of Krug Clos du Mesnil or Salon.

BC: What is your positioning in terms of price?

FM: In Europe the Barons De Rothschild Brut Cuvée retails on average for 42-43€ GST included. The Blanc de Blancs and the Rosé are at 60€ which places us with Ruinart or Bollinger.

BC: What are your volumes, your markets, your ambitions?

FM: The first year (2009) we sold our wines in only 3 countries: Australia, Germany and Japan. This is a very premium distribution, on the Rothschild network.

In a few months, we sold 15,000 bottles in Japan, 4,000 bottles in Australia and 8,000 bottles in Germany.

In 2010 we made our beginnings in 10 countries; in 2011 in 25 countries, in 2012 in 50 countries and in 2013, in 55 countries.

Today Japan is our biggest market with 20% of our sales made over there and a 4 to 5% growth annually.

We started on the US market two years ago and sold 20,000 bottles.

The high potential markets are as usual the Asian continent with Japan, China and especially Hong Kong.

In Europe there are important markets such as England, Germany, Scandinavia; we also have emerging markets such as Brazil in South America.

We produced 500,000 bottles since 2006. We progress slowly but surely to ensure we have the positioning we want in terms of product but also pricing, but we also want to have a quality distribution.

We aim to sell 500,000 bottles in 150 countries in 4 years.

BC: According to several players of the champagne world, brand legitimacy must first be created in France, the main champagne market. What does the French market represent for Champagne Barons De Rothschild?

FM: We started in France a bit later in 2011, to free ourselves from the fact that we had a good exposure abroad with good feedback from customers.

After we sold 100,000 bottles abroad to the best restaurants in Asia and to the best wine shops and restaurants in Europe outside France, quite a lot of French people said they were interested in our champagnes. They saw our wines in Hong Kong, Tokyo, Shanghai, Malaysia, Seoul, Spain, Italy, Switzerland, Germany and Denmark.

Today France represents 15% of our volumes and in the future we want to achieve 100,000 bottles and 20% of the sales.

BC: Mr Mairesse you come from the wine world. Is it different compared to champagne?

FM: Yes, codes are different. Wine has a more important technicality when dealing with consumers. I spent 9 years working in wines in the Vallée du Rhône where I was often asked if Grenaches had 15 or 12 metre long roots, if it was a clay soil or a sandy clay soil, if we were to harvest at 5,000 or 4,900 feet/hectare. With champagne, consumers don’t have that many questions on the technicality of the wines.

BC: Do you think that today, consumers are more aware and want to know more about what is in the bottle?

FM: Yes indeed, I think consumers are more interested in learning technical notions about champagne that before. Wine consumers are still more advanced though, but champagne customers are looking for other things, the festive spirit, the show, the shining and sparkling aspect of champagne. These codes are closer to the world of spirits rather than wines. But it doesn’t affect the inherent quality of the product.

BC: How do you think the Global Financial Crisis will affect the world of champagne?

FM: Even if there is a crisis, champagne production (349 millions bottles in 2013) is very small compared to the world’s demand. Today China consumes 2 million bottles of champagne versus 1.5 million a year ago and 1 million 2 years ago. We can imagine that in 10 years China will consume 15 million bottles which corresponds to the current consumption in the USA. I think that growth will spread worldwide and will allow champagne to maintain a reasonable price to share the margin between winegrowers, producers and traders.

BC: Mr Mairesse what would be life without champagne?

FM: Life without champagne would be sad because there is always an emotion in all the family events, parties etc. that are celebrated with champagne and if we didn’t have it, a lot of people would be unhappy.

Menu


Reception

Smoked Salmon Napoleon, Crème Fraiche, Osetra Caviar
Barons de Rothschild Champagne, Brut NV


Aperitif

Tuna, Hamachi and Salmon Tartare, Soy, Sesame, Ginger, Tobioko, Popped Sourgum​
Barons de Rothschild Champagne, Blanc de Blancs NV


Entrée

Duo of Roasted Virginia Lamb Loin and Bacon-crusted Scallop, Morel Mushrooms, Fava Beans, Brandy Lamb Jus, Beurre blanc
Barons de Rothschild Champagne, “Millesime” 2010
Barons de Rothschild Champagne, Blanc de Blancs “Cuvée Spéciale” 2008


Dessert

Virginia Strawberries, Cream Cheese Mousse, Strawberry coulis, micro mint, Phyllo Crisp
Barons de Rothschild Champagne, Brut Rosé NV


The Champagnes Frédéric Mairesse Poured

Barons de Rothschild Champagne, Brut NV (US$69.99)

The Barons de Rothschild Brut is aerial Champagne that is rich and complex. The blend uses three to four-year old Chardonnays and Pinots Noirs from the best land in Champagne.
This subtle blend produces a wine with fabulously fine bubbles, elegant golden colour and fine, delicate nuances of white fruit. Low dosage and at least six months’ time after disgorging gives this Champagne beautifully balanced structure on the palate that is highly appreciated when served as the aperitif or throughout the meal.


Barons de Rothschild Champagne, Blanc de Blancs NV (US$89.99)

The celebrated finesse in the Barons de Rothschild Blanc de Blancs comes from the blend of the greatest Chardonnay grapes in Champagne after at least four years of cellars ageing. Inimitable brilliance, delicate bubbles, luminous golden glints, the Barons de Rothschild Blanc de Blancs reveals notes of fresh fruit and ripe citrus. The very low dosage and long ageing after disgorging (6 to 9 months) enhance its innate quality. The Chardonnay develops its inherent authenticity and purity, for full appreciation for every occasion and at any time throughout the day.


Barons de Rothschild Champagne, “Millesime” 2010 US$145

A perfect balance that exhales hints of white peach and apricot. The peppery and warm finish will strengthen the beautiful balance of this 2010 vintage between generosity and elegance. Our vintage cuvée from the great year 2010, aged on the lees for 7 years, is the result of a selection of Chardonnay 50% and Pinot Noir 50% grapes in the Grands Crus of the Côte des Blancs and the Montagne de Reims.


Barons de Rothschild Champagne, Blanc de Blancs “Cuvée Spéciale” 2008 US$239

In the respect of the house style, this millésime symbolizes the elegance of an exceptional year for Chardonnay. A perfect combination that gives this vintage all of its subtlety, thanks to over eight years of ageing in the cellars.


Barons de Rothschild Champagne, Brut Rosé NV US$89.99

Barons de Rothschild Champagne Rosé asserts gorgeous finesse. The Champagne Rosé is blended from the greatest Chardonnay grapes from Champagne and the very best Pinots Noirs made into red wines, after a minimum of three years cellar-ageing. The high proportion of Chardonnay contributes all the finesse and vivaciousness of very great Rosé. The Pinot Noir offers delicate, harmonious complexity that charms all five senses. The Champagne, brilliant with tints of pale pink, aromas of citrus and red berry notes, delights the most demanding palates. The very low dosage and careful ageing after disgorging (3 months) endow this Champagne Rosé with maturity where Chardonnay and Pinot Noir can develop all their authenticity and purity, for full appreciation at every occasion and any time of the day.


schiller-wine: Related Postings

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Ombiasy Wine Tours 2018: 3 x France and 3 x Germany - Ombiasy Newsletter December 2017

UPCOMING Tours/ Wine Dinners/ Tastings - Annette and Christian Schiller/ ombiasyPR & WineTours/ schiller-wine, Germany, France, USA (Issued: April 1, 2019)

Champagne – An Introduction, France

French Champagne Houses and German Roots

Cellar Visit and Tasting at the Champagner House Taittinger in Reims, Champagne - Burgundy (and Champagne) 2016 Tour by ombiasy WineTours

Cellar Visit and Tasting at the Champagne House AR Lenoble in Epernay, with Christian Holthausen - Burgundy (and Champagne) 2016 Tour by ombiasy WineTours

Visit and Tasting at Champagne Jean Josselin, a Grower Champagne House in Gyé­ sur­ Seine – Bourgogne (and Champagne) Tour 2016 by ombiasy WineTours, France

Pure Chablis – A tête-à-tête Dinner in Washington DC at Marcel’s with Chablis Wine Board President and Winemaker Jean-François Bordet, Domaine Séguinot-Bordet, USA/France