Hot on the heels of Taste Washington, a trade tasting event for French Burgundy landed in Seattle. The Bourgogne Wine Board hosted their ‘Terroirs & Signatures de Bourgogne’ at The Foundry in SoDo this week. I lived to tell about it.
The Foundry is one of two event venues from the Herban Feast team, in the space formally known as Urban Enoteca. As befitting a place designed for wine tasting, there were options for anyone that loved Burgundy. Or Bourgogne (the proper spelling of the French wine region.) In one area was the Immersion Room; four stations setup with four bottles at each. The idea was to taste at each to test your palate and finish with a blind tasting. But that wasn’t the main event. The main event was the Tasting Room.
The Terroirs & Signatures de Bourgogne event was promoted to introduce importers, winemakers, vineyard owners to various industry folks and to bring those bottles of Burgundy to Seattle. In the Tasting Room, there were about 24 tables with between five to seven wines at each table, any Burghound would find something to swoon over. When it comes to French Burgundy, that means Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. To say that it’s just Chardonnay and Pinot Noir would be to say that Russell Wilson is just a quarterback or Felix Hernandez is just a pitcher.
For the areas in the Burgundy region (from north to south - Côte de Nuits, Côte de Beaune, Côte Chalonnaise, and Maconnais) house some of the finest wines in the world. But the beauty of Burgundy is that right next to a fancypants wine like Domaine Romanée-Conti, is another vineyard that is making wine that is much cheaper; wines that don't hit you with sticker shot, yet are delicious. There are dozens of smaller and less known wines dotting the region. And that was the point of this event. Find new gems. Here are some takeaways:
The many facets of Burgundy – One of the great things about wine is that a range of styles exists for the exact same grape. Chardonnay and Pinot Noir can exhibit an abundance of style. Chardonnay can be steely with minerality from Chablis or can be elegant and lush like Meursault. Added bonus is that much of Burgundy is organic or biodynamic, but estates tend to not follow hipster rules and shout this earnestness out. The whole spectrum of Burgundy characteristics were on display.
Burgundy is confusing – Although it’s comprised of mostly two grapes, there are dozens and dozens of vineyards that make up the various wineries of Burgundy. Because Burgundy’s appellations are broken down thusly; Regional (think of it like Paul McCartney in the 80s), Village (Sir Paul in the last 20 years), Premier Cru (Wings), and Grand Cru (The Beatles). As you go up in regions, you tend to go up in price and quality. But the thing is, the Regional wines are still very good. With so many small wineries, it can get you in a daze trying to sift what’s what. Small parcels of land that are distinctive and tons of microclimates and terroir (the French term of the special characteristics that an area gives to a wine) dot the entire region of Burgundy.
The bottles could be hitting Seattle soon – Of the wines I tasted at the event, I really enjoyed those from the Domaines et Saveurs Collection, Maison Lou Dumont, and Maison Jean-Philippe Marchand. With the theme of the event to introduce these labels to a buying audience, the hope is that distributors in Seattle will start carrying the bottles or restaurants will start purchasing them for their bottle lists. Let’s hope that happens sooner than later.