Tasted in Beaune with Vincent Bottreau, 03 December 2015.
Maison Bouchard Aîné et Fils
4 Boulevard Maréchal Foch
Tel: +33 3 80 24 06 66
The roots of this firm, like today’s Bouchard Père et Fils, are with Michel Bouchard whose cloth merchant business came to Burgundy in 1731. His son Joseph was the one that really expanded the business into wine as the export market for wine grew. Joseph was responsible for the business from 1750, cloth and wine businesses became separated only in 1760.
In 1828, Théodore-Joseph Bouchard (b.1783), the eldest son of Antoine-Philibert Bouchard, started his own wine brokerage and with this act, Maison Bouchard Aîné et Fils – Aîné means ‘eldest’ (son) – came into life. Of interest is that Bouchard Père claim a starting date of 1731 though they were overwhelmingly a cloth merchant at this time, yet Bouchard Aîné claim 1750 when Joseph took over the family business, ignoring the actual 1828 date.
In 1993 Bouchard Aîné were bought by Jean-Claude Boisset. Among the many projects that followed was the opening of the headquarters of Bouchard Aîné to the public in 1998. Bouchard Aîné are headquartered in the beautiful Hôtel du Conseiller du Roy, sitting on the Boulevard of Beaune next to today’s Hôtel Le Cèdre. I think this one of the top 5 buildings in Beaune and certainly worth a visit.
In 2000 a new cuverie followed (24 Route de Savigny in Beaune), with a capacity of 900 hectolitres. The production today is 95% red wine; there are just two whites and more like 20 reds. Fermentations are in big, open, wooden fermentation tanks. Bouchard Aîné remain very-much a merchant operation with long-term contracts for grapes – in one case over 100 years! – with vignerons predominantly from the Côte de Beaune, some Côte Chalonnaise and little Côte de Nuits – of-course there is a little internal competition for grapes with the Jean-Claude Boisset label, but the markets are different. Note that the Beaune cuverie is for wines from central Burgundy, and these account for the smaller proportion of Bouchard Aîné labelled wines, Vincent notes “The winery located in Beaune is mainly used for the vinification of our Burgundy village, premier cru and grand cru appellations (including Côte Chalonnaise, but not Beaujolais), under the “Cuvée Signature” label. As a ground rule, we try to minimize as much as possible the distance between the vineyards and the winery.” Including wines from the Beaujolais, Pays d’Oc / Vin de France, the actually number of bottles was already 4 million in 2005…
Export is, by far, the largest proportion of sales. The main markets are US, Northern Europe et-cetera, all-in-all 85 different countries. Bouchard Aîné was one of the pioneering houses that exported.
Bouchard Aîné only hand harvests, making triage and then the grapes are mainly destemmed – but that latter point can depend on the vintage and parcel. Some cool pre-fermentation maceration is made here, all manual pigeage though some commercial yeast may be used when needed – just 3 cuvées required this in 2015. Often, a little (0.1°-0.2°) sugar is added to keep the fermentation running a little longer – again, nothing systematic. In 2015 21 days was the shortest, 27 days the longest in tank – tasting decides when to stop – Vincent explains that he is not looking for a lot of extraction. The press juices have a separate elevage and some may be added back into the wine.
Vincent explains “We are supplied by about 15-20 vignerons, behind them are 6-7 courtiers. It takes quite some logistics, if nothing else to avoid all the grapes being cut on the same day! This was more of a problem in 2014 than 2015”
2015 was the second vinification here for Vincent and he’s looking at different barrel-toast levels, as most was already pre-ordered for the 2014s… Currently he’s working with 6 different coopers, systematically trying-out the different possibilities…
Vincent on the 2014s:
“The wines are much more interesting than I expected during the elevage, and fortunately no problems with volatility. I did a little less extraction and fermented a couple faster while worrying about the acetics, but they came through well.
Given the recent low yielding vintages, actual volumes in last years have been closer to 500 hl at this estate. Beaune Marconnets and Savigny-lès-Beaune are the two whites for 2015. The 2014s have about 20-25% new oak, 2015s just a little more.
A bunch of the wines won’t be bottled until about February, but the first wines were all bottled before the harvest. Overall, the wines largely have an old style impression to them – they largely lack the aromatic and flavour precision of many addresses – but there are still some wines that I found to be excellent. Older bottles that I’ve tasted confirm some excellent wines come from this address, but largely from cuvées, often grand crus, not represented by the list tasted this day.
2014 Bourgogne Pinot Noir
An assembly of multiple parcels from the Côte d’Or. All destemmed with elevage in stainless-steel tanks.
Wide some freshness but also a depth of red fruit – a little savoury character. Much more welcoming and impressive in the mouth with lovely slightly cushioned texture and a good weight of sweet fruit. A little grainy tannin at the base. But balanced with a little perfume to the finishing flavour.
2014 Bourgogne Hautes Côtes de Beaune
From higher parcels normally a little later harvested.
A little softer aromatic; perhaps riper red fruit with a pretty floral aspect too. Nice structure, well padded texture with more supple tannin. Nicer wine in terms of easiness if less vibrant. Good wine.
2014 Bourgogne Hautes Côtes de Nuits
Deeper, slightly darker fruit, a savoury aspect again. Excellent shape and texture in the mouth – actually here the structural aspects seem to have more flavour than the fruit, to start. But it hugs your palate without any sense of the ‘facile.’ Good mouth-watering finishing flavour here. A wine to wait for a little while.
2014 Côte de Beaune Villages
5-6 different villages represented here. A large part vinified in wooden tank.
Wide, some red fruit, some onion skin(?) Good depth of fruit however. Silky, nice fruit flavour, really this tastes very well, there is a modest velvet tannin in support, but the flavour is supple and the finish complex and very tasty indeed, only the nose between this and an unreserved recommendation…
2014 Fixin Le Mazières
A rare Côte de Nuits cuvée. Not yet bottled, from the centre of the village. Low yielding vines.
Good colour, some spicy oak on the fresh nose, 25% new oak. Fresh, cool fruit, really nice dark fruit complexity here, the structure slowly catching up and adding a little oak flavour too. It will be helpful to wait for the oak to fade a little, but the luxurious flavour complexity is lovely. This will be very good! Floral finishing too. Yum!
2014 Nuits St.Georges 1er Les Chaboeufs
South of the village. Some whole clusters here. Two parcels, two vignerons.
Some impression of oak here, again, but there is finer integration with the freshness and fruit. In the mouth a certain sweetness, more structured, less luxurious flavour complexity. Long and primary finishing.
Savigny-lès-Beaune 1er Les Guettes
Also two parcels in 2014. A small amount of whole clusters – about 10%
A pretty nose of fresh red fruit and a modest oak spice. Less wide than the Nuits but with a sweeter line of pretty fruit through the middle. There’s a little grain to the tannin but this tastes very well. Nicely finishing. This is very good.
2014 Beaune 1er les Marconnets
Next to motorway above Clos du Roi. There’s been a contract with this family for a hundred years!
Wide, not so deep but a very inviting combination of fruit and oak spice. Cool fruit with tannin below but a relatively fine grain. There is complexity here and a long fine line of finishing flavour. Very good.
2014 Beaune 1er Clos du Roi
Starts with a little oak spice but a growing dark red fruit comes to the fore – excellent. Wide, fine, silky texture with lots of complexity. Here is a wine that (again) you should wait a little while for, but the complexity of dark fruit is excellent. A chewy, slightly tannin impression at the start of the finish. This will be super, but wait a couple of years…
High on the hill, a much later harvest than many in the village.
Very nice colour – deep and bright. The nose is round, almost truffly – a different type of oak spice. Round, lovely texture, comforting every part of your mouth. Slowly growing freshness of fruit. This is excellent Pommard villages.
2014 Pommard 1er Les Charmots
75% hailed in 2013, also less than 15 hl/ha in 2014.
Dark fruit with a little oak spice. Really lovely in the mouth, round, modestly cushioned, nicely complex, the tannin is more of a textural drag than a specific size of grain. The mid-palate flavour has an airy top note of fruit. The finish is lovely, and indeed quite long too. Just a little primary today, but very much a fine wine…
2014 Bourgogne Chardonnay
Cdn, Cdb fruit. Stainless-steel elevage
Bright fresh a little peppery. Soft, modest, some pretty flavour complexity – tastes more Mâcon in style. Its pretty enough. But really not super interesting. Nicely fresh no negatives but not exciting. Still there’s a slightly tannic note in the finish…
2014 Beaune 1er Marconnets Blanc
Both bottled at the start of July. Here 40% new oak, 60% 1 year-old.
Bright and fresh, some oak spice. Nice in the mouth, round, some structure. This has much more interest, complexity and some oak reflections too. A pretty and complex wine of interest. Not the intensity of many in 2014 but very tasty. The finish has a lot of interest too.