Visit to Bouchard Aîné et Fils
On our trip to Beaune, I knew that one of my stops had to be Bouchard Ainé et Fils. They're one of the oldest wine merchants in the Côte de Beaune and one of the most renowned names in all of Burgundy.
As I've said in previous posts, these visits are a way of discovering new wines and learning a lot about the different processes used when producing them so it was really intriguing when I found out that this visit would take us through a guided tour of the cellars, discovering the wines through our five senses.
We started the tour with a trip down to the cellars, the earthy smell, so typical of cellars in this region, was the first thing that overcame our nostrils. On our first stop, surrounded by barrels, we tasted a regional chardonnay. It expressed a strong attack on the palate. the zesty acidity lasting for a significant time during the tasting.
As we continued on our visit we learned that the Bouchard family had a tumultuous history. In 1828, a rift between Antoine Philibert Joseph Bouchard and his son Joseph Théodore resulted in the two men separating ways. Joseph Théodore creating a new company, Bouchard Aîné et Fils while his brother Bernard Bouchard stayed at the helm of Bouchard Père et Fils. As a result, now two of the most renowned wine merchants in Burgundy have the same name.
Next we walked through a long corridor where stacks of bottles were left to age on either side. The dust and mould blending into one to create a thin layer which covered all the bottles. Testimony of time and of being undisturbed over many decades and centuries. Each stack had its own slate board with the vintage written in chalk. As we walked down this corridor, we could hear noises of birds chirping and the rustling of leaves. This part of the visit was to discover the wines through our hearing senses. It got me to think about what life must have been like when these vintages were made.
A stack of 1879 vintage
The corridor displaying stacks of different vintages
Our next stop was in a room surrounded by barrels where we got to try a Meursault. Meursault is a village famously known in Burgundy for creating exceptional white wines. This Chardonnay was less acidic on the attack and you could really taste how the oak combined with the particular terroir of the village created a much more subtle wine, perfectly balanced.
This part of the visit was directed towards our sense of sight. We were told how the age of a wine has an impact on its colour. For white wines, they tend to be clearer when they are young but turn gold and amber as they age whereas for red wines, they tend to be quite dark and then brighten as they age.
Tasting a Meursault Chardonnay
As we continued on our visit, we entered a workshop designed to test our sense of smell. All around the room there were large glass jars and we were to guess what aromas they were. This little exercise is a lot harder than it looks as often the aroma will be familiar but you can't put a name on it. In any case it was really interesting to try and guess the aromas that could be found in these wines.
We then continued to the final two senses which were touch and taste. As you can't really touch a wine, this part of the visit was really focused on how the different wines feel inside your mouth. To illustrate this they displayed different types of fabric, fake fur for a Pommard and metallic fabric for a young Chardonnay.
Displayed around the room were frames suggesting the food and wine associations that were best suited to wines of the region.
Finally we went back up to a tasting room on the ground floor. Here we got to try a few other red wines and most notably a 2011 Grand Cru Clos de Vougeot. Clos de Vougeot is one of the most notable Grand Crus in Burgundy. Made up of around 50 hectares and divided into 100 parcels belonging to over 80 producers it is one of the most sought after plots in all the region.
It was really impressive to get to try a 129€ bottle of Clos de Vougeot. The Pinot Noir is perfectly balanced creating a refined wine with a lot of depth and elegance.
Grand Cru Clos de Vougeot 2011
Have you ever visited the Bouchard Aîné et Fils cellars? Tell me all about it in the comment section down below.