A wine producer in Burgundy: Survives tariffs, Covid and 40% loss of yields

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The last year and a half has been a challenge for many around the world with waves of the flow of coronavirus closures, diseases and deaths coming and going at intervals of short breaks that would suggest normality here and there. No one can argue with the idea that this pandemic has been a devastating tragedy on many levels that has had a major impact on loss of life, long term health and decimation of employment for many as well as livelihoods that were inherently a part of business owners’ sense of self and main purpose of life. Everyone has to deal at some point with their lives being shattered into a thousand pieces in some form and each person will have to find a way to go when faced with that moment in their lives. This time, the world needs to do this at the same time … and for some, they are actually finding a way to renew their work and personal lives with a different perspective that is energetic in ways that many have not felt for years.

The legendary winemaker Bouchard Père & Fils in Burgundy, France, has faced many obstacles over the last few years, starting in October 2019 with the US imposing tariffs on French products as well as other European products that hit the wine sector hard. Wine is a business with a low margin, and therefore any dents in profits can be devastating, especially when it comes to a marketplace on which an ing country is highly dependent, e.g. USA, not to mention that France has spent much of its resources and money on establishing a good trade relationship with America. A few months ago, these tariffs were suspended and now Bouchard is getting ready to release their 2019 Burgundy 1er Cru, Grand Cru and lieux-dits (vineyards of historical significance) after riding some hard waves.

When mother nature and the market are both in turmoil

After a very intense and stressful vintage 2019 in the vineyards Bouchard Père & Fil’s cellar master, Frédéric Weber, looked forward to his annual exciting trip to the USA, which gave him a short break to talk to sommeliers, wine buyers and media people who loved Burgundy and rejoiced me always much to taste their 1er Cru and Grand Cru wines as an example; for Frédéric it is always exciting to go to different American cities, where the surroundings are very different from the agricultural villages of Côte d’Or, Burgundy. It is a true gift for Frédéric to travel to a city like New York, and he could never have imagined such trips while growing up in his small town in Alsace, in northeastern France.

But when he arrived in New York City on March 9thth in 2020, it was a visit unlike any before, as it was precisely the time when the positive Covid cases in NYC began to escalate exponentially and before March 16th.th and 17th schools and non-essential corporations were closed respectively. This visit would be a visit filled with confusion about how such a thing as finding oneself in the middle of a pandemic could ever happen, made only more burdensome with 25% duty on one’s wines, which were threatened at any time with rising to 100%; 2019 and 2020 are going down as two of the most difficult years that could happen side by side for Frédéric as basement master for Bouchard Père & Fils.

2019 vintage

Traditionally, a difficult burgundy red wine would mean wet weather (which can cause mildew) or frost as well as cool temperatures that would make it difficult to reach maturity for the grapes, but things have changed. Burgundy may certainly still have wet, cool weather, but over the last few decades they have experienced warmer vintages, and this has been a kind of blessing, as maturity is no longer a consistent problem, but warmer, drier weather can have its own potential negatives. The 2019 vintage had problems with both cold, wet weather and dry, hot weather, which would sometimes be irregular in its timing and overall would cause a yield loss of 40%1 to Bouchard Père & Fils wines.

Frédéric spoke of the milder temperatures in February and March of 2019 that caused the bud to burst early, “two weeks earlier than 2018”, but frost hit in April, causing “mixed damage”. Then the rest of the spring was “much cooler than usual”, and the flowering was therefore delayed until the beginning of June, which generally caused millennia days – aka chickens and chickens – irregular fruit sets, where the berries of a bunch of grapes are not uniform in size – which affected some of the Pinot Noir bunches but mainly the Chardonnay grapes.

But Pinot Noir was more affected by the combination of “hot temperatures, wind and drought” that took place a few days before harvest, causing more concentration in the grapes as the water evaporated out of them. 2019 was a vintage that was all over the place, and Frédéric was grateful that in Bouchard they have winery workers who have worked the same section of a winery “all his life”; and so even in a vintage that is not comparable to another in how the life cycle developed, the workers know the vines so well that they can intuitively adapt vineyard management to what the vines need.

The things that stand the test of time

At the time they are crushed by them, challenges can seem like a nightmare that is difficult to deal with physically and mentally, but sometimes they can ultimately bring out the best in a person or a wine for that matter. There is no doubt that Frédéric and Bouchard Père & Fils have been relentlessly challenged and only recently given a chance to catch their breath, but in a wonderful transformation, Frédéric has not felt thrilled to taste Bouchard reds since then, he went to their cellar and tasted a 1949 Beaune Grèves ‘Vigne de L’Enfant Jésus’ as there is a unique combination of richness with “very round tannins” that still have plenty of acid and layered aromas in the 2019s – it is a vintage that has once again ruled the magic of it all for Frédéric.

Frédéric is always very careful about how many whole clusters he will use to ferment Pinot Noir bundles, even though it depends on the vineyard and the vintage, he typically errs on the caution side and uses only a small percentage of the whole cluster. But in general, the seeds of the Pinot Noir grapes had a “beautiful coffee and mocha” note, and therefore he increased the whole cluster fermentation from 25% to 40% for the Côte de Beaune wines and to over 50% for the Côte de Nuits wines. Of course, not all wineries agree on when to use more or less whole clusters, but Frédéric is adamant about making the quality of stems and frogs the most important factor.

There are many things over the years that have overwhelmed the humble Frédéric Weber with thrilling happy moments that include working for one of Burgundy’s oldest wine merchants and largest landowners in the Côte d’Or, or traveling to exciting places far or wide. to drink the most exquisite liquid produced while France was recovering from World War II … it seems that Frédéric already had enough excitement in life with his almost two decades with Bouchard that it was time for settling down and living off the excitement of Bouchard’s iconic 1er Cru and Grand Cru vineyards remains astounding with new challenges that come with unlocking more nuanced complexity and concentration. And just like how Bouchard was able to make great wines from 1949 that are still alive today, after so much loss and pain, they have done it again with the many challenges of 2019 and 2020. Frédéric says he always comforts himself with , that Bouchard has been around for nearly 300 years, and like the French spirit, it can not be so easily defeated.

Bouchard Père & Fils have a total of over 130 hectares (130 hectares) and they will all be certified organic by 2024.

Bouchard Père & Fils taste the reds before the whites and thus the taste order below.

Red

2018 Bouchard Père & Fils, Premier Cru, Beaune du Château, Côte de Beaune: Yes, that’s right, this is 2018 and the only 2018 in a row since it was just released on the market – it’s a richer vintage as well with less acidity than 2019 so interesting to compare; scents of clay soil, ash and smoldering cedar with brooding fruit on the nose with lush blackberries in the palate that had added notes of forest floor and cocoa powder.

2019 Bouchard far & Fils, Premier Cru, Beaune Clos de la Mousse, Côte de Beaune (Domaine / Monopole): Fresher on the nose than Beaune du Château 2018 with beautiful floral notes such as dried flowers, fresh sage and espresso hints with layers of warming black fruit and lush tannins and a touch of sandalwood on the finish. This is one of Frédéric’s favorite vineyards, as it is very old and has been growing vines there since the 12th.th century.

2019 Bouchard Père & Fils, Premier Cru, Beaune Grèves ‘Vigne de L’Enfant Jésus’, Côte de Beaune (Domaine / Exclusivity): Cappuccino aroma with wild truffles and blackcurrant jam with round texture and juicy cassis taste with good weight in the middle -palat , which had vibrant fruit and crisp acid in the finish.

2019 Bouchard Père & Fils, Premier Cru, Volnay Les Caillerets, Côte de Beaune (Domaine): A spicy wine – baked spice, cinnamon bark, beautiful cherry blossom notes and a sumptuous body that ends with crumbling earthy aromas. This was the first winery bought by Bouchard Père & Fils in 1775, who became wine merchants in 1731.

2019 Bouchard Père & Fils, Grand Cru, Le Corton, Côte de Beaune (Domaine): Really lifted with star anise and jasmine. It had the greatest weight and overall sumptuous quality in this series with a continued floral lift on finish.

White

Frédéric noted that making the white “was a little more challenging” for the 2019 vintage, as in his opinion it needed more time. The whites were a little too “lavish and rich” for his taste, but they still have high acidity due to milleranda days (a few underripe sour berries with ripe) and therefore he has given the white wines more time to age in barrels until they become more “focused” and he can sense more of the terroir and therefore why the wines are released later in the year compared to previous years; in fact, many of the Grand Cru whites still age in large, neutral barrels.

2019 Bouchard Père & Fils, Meursault ‘Les Clous’, Côte de Beaune (Domaine): This lieu-dit (historically named winery) is an atypical Meursault, as it is usually linear instead of rich like other Meursault wines, and in 2019 has the electric acidity you would expect, but also has ripe golden apple and pear flavors with a touch of almond paste. So this year it is rich but still electric.

2019 Bouchard Père & Fils, Premier Cru, Beaune Clos Saint-Landry, Côte de Beaune (Domaine / Monopole): Roasted coconut shavings and grilled pineapple with green mango zing on the palate and sesame oil lingering on the finish.

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