Burgundy Syndicate Trip: Tales From Tom

The 61st Vente des Vins des Hospices de Nuits on 20th March raised a record-breaking €2.48 million to support the funding of the Saint Laurent Hospital in Nuits Saint-Georges and the proceeds from this year's Pièce de Charité barrel have gone to APF France Handicap. Honest Grapes was delighted to have supported the auction and successfully bid on barrels again this year for Syndicate Members.

The previous weekend Honest Grapes co-founders, Nathan & Tom, hosted a group of previous Syndicates members on a trip to Burgundy. They visited and tasted with the various growers who have completed the winemaking process (élévage) of barrels bought at past auctions. Along the way the group took in some historic sites, and enjoyed fabulous meals and memorable wines. This was our first Hospices Barrel Syndicate Members trip and it is intended to become an annual fixture. Wine Guru Tom managed to scribble down his tales so that we could share the highlights of this remarkable trip with you.

Friday 11th March: Touch down in Dijon

What a great first afternoon in Burgundy with Laurent Delaunay and some members of our Hospices Barrels Syndicates. It was great to taste a range of Edouard Delaunay treats in the château (including a beautiful Charmes Chambertin 2017 and Chevalier Montrachet 2018) and also to once again taste from our barrels of 2020 Hospices de Nuits 1er Cru Les Didiers 'Cuvée Fagon'.

Those who joined this syndicate will be delighted to know the wine is developing brilliantly - hats off to Laurent and his IWC award-winning winemaker Christophe Briotet. They are both doing a great job teasing the very best out of this thrilling cuvée. A truly memorable dinner at 1243 last night, which finished off with some ‘La La La’ of course. There was a stellar line up of Edouard Delaunay wines including: • Chassagne Montrachet 1er Cru 'Les Baudines' 2018 • Corton Charlemagne Grand Cru 2019 • Domaine du Hospices de Nuits Les Porrets Saint-Georges 2018 • Clos de la Roche Grand Cru 2018 • Hospices de Nuits 1er Cru Les Saint-Georges 1955 - what a sweetly herbal, medicinal and still vibrant treat. Salut!

Dinner was perfectly pitched by Keishi Sugimura of 1* Le Benaton and started with Carpaccio de Saint-Jacques and Rémoulade de Céleri-rave et Torteaux Caviar which absolutely nailed it with the Corton Charlie. We finished with Domaine Roulot Liquer d’Abricots - a first for me!

Many thanks to Laurent, Bernard, Etienne and 1234 team – this was a real privilege for the Honest Grapes Syndicate Members to be hosted in the most exclusive of wine clubs! I even spied an old unexpected friend in the cellar…San Leonardo 1991. Perhaps next time!

Saturday 12th March: Culture with a touch of Guinness

The sun rises and the team set off for their visit to Domaine du Hospices de-Nuits-St-Georges to be guided by Jean Marc Moron, the lead winemaker. From there they headed to the illustrious Château Clos Vougeot where they indulged in a very special lunch in the Château before a guided tour.

Team Hospices loved their lunch at Château de Clos Vougeot! We tried a series of “taste vinage” wines – including a particularly impressive Saint Aubin 1er Cru 2015, Chablis Valmur Grand Cru 2012 and a perfectly indicative Clos Vougeot 2012.

They have been put through their paces assessing the Domaine du Hospices de Nuits 2021 cuvées (once again - chapeau Jean-Marc for a super job, commendable consistency across the range - anyone who thinks the style of the vintage is likely to be insubstantial needs to try these wines!)

Lastly – I found myself enjoying a Guinness (or five) watching a heroic, battling England performance in the rugby - final score flattered a lacklustre, ill-disciplined Ireland team (with customary flashes of brilliance to be fair). Grrr.

Sunday Afternoon 13th March: Memories and Pinot Noir

No trip to Burgundy would be complete without a tasting of Honest Grapes friend and favourite, Jane Eyre, whose wines always display her distinctive style: delicate and inviting with supple tannins and soft but bright fruits. Over the years, Jane has been involved in many Club events ranging from our Burgundy En Primeur tasting at 67 Pall Mall through to two ‘Meet the Grower’ Wine Therapy Sessions. Whether discussing the nuances of the latest vintage or sharing her favourite food pairing tips, Jane’s charm and vivacity are matched only by the character of her wines. On this trip we were able to taste a selection of her wines at the Hungry Cyclist Lodge, which holds a sentiment of its own for Tom…

I first met Jane in 2015 whilst staying at the newly-opened Hungry Cyclist Lodge (formerly the derelict mill in Auxey-Duresses). One afternoon Tom said, “I’d like to invite a friend for dinner – she's a winemaker”. A few hours later Jane rocked up with an open bottle of her 2013 Corton Renardes Grand Cru. The rest is history…

Sorry we couldn’t have Jane with us today, but we wish her luck with the Harvest in Mornington and then Tasmania!

We are so pleased with how our Hospices De Beaune Savigny 1er Cru and Corton 2021 (Charlotte Dumay) are developing in your care – if the latter turns out half as good as the 2019, our syndicate members will be very happy.

Thank you to Tom and Quincy for a brilliant lunch. Now time for a snooze…

Sunday Evening 13th March: BYOW

La Paulée is a Burgundian celebration held at the end of the grape harvest. This was once a widespread practice throughout France but now most often refers to the festivities held in Meursault. To round off our syndicate trip we asked our attendees to bring a bottle each to share in a celebration of Burgundy and the end of the journey.

What a lovely Paulée dinner at Les Popiettes this evening – our last occasion as a fully assembled team before various Hospices Syndicate members depart tomorrow. Super wines were brought by guests – I particularly recollect Nicolas Joly Clos de la Bergerie 2015, Le Grappin Savigny 2019 (rouge), Michel Gros Clos des Réas 2018 (Vosne-Romanée’s most hidden of gems – tucked up under Malconsorts and La Tâche and over the road from Romanée-Saint-Vivant) and a pointe magnum of Domaine Paul Jaboulet Aîné Hermitage La Chapelle 2001.

Great recommendation from the restaurant as well: the Domaine Guillemot-Michel “une bulle” methode ancestrale with some Tiramisu – A perfect pick me up to refresh jaded palates.

Monday 14th March: That’s a wrap

We head to our Survivors lunch at Le Souffelot, Mersault, joined by Brian Sieve after a two-hour tasting at Domaine de Montille of various 2020 favouruite terroirs – including stunning editions of Taillepieds, Malconsorts and Chevalier Montrachet. It was also great to see the evolution of our two Hopsices de Beanue 2020 cuvées that are completing their élévage under Brian's watchful eye.

The Cuvée General Muteau (a blend of top 1er cru Volnay sites including Taillepieds, Caillerets and Fremiets) was showing really well, having absorbed nearly all the new oak prior to racking. As for our Meursault Charmes 1er Cru - Cuvée Bahezre de Lanlay - it was gorgeous, a true expression of the duality of the vintage - focussed and long with vivifying acidity but intensely concentrated and rich.

Thanks so much Brian for spending the time with our group (as well as retrieving phone chargers and ferrying guests around). You and the team are doing a super job of "capturing the moment in between juice and vinegar."

Final Thoughts & Barrels of Fun

We are delighted to have picked up two barrels of Nuits-St-Georges Premier Cru ‘les Corvées Pagets’, Cuvée Saint Laurent for the Honest Grapes Syndicate Members at the auction. The vineyard in the southern part of the appellation next to the famous ‘Clos des Corvées’ Monopole owned by Domaine Prieuré Roch.Notes from the Hospices:

"Growing on a soil typical of the Nuits-Saint-Georges appellation, although located south of it, this aristocratic cru promises refinement, elegance and distinction. It is the most delicate of the southern crus, with a typically Burgundian ruby color, powerful but refined; the 2021 version gives a very dense and harmonious wine that is already open. A real favourite of this vintage."

Tom's note:

"Very spicy and herbal nose, with blue fruits and red, juniper and cardamom, and tight hedgerow strawberries. Succulent, and generous on the palate, juicy, with pepper inflection, slight smokiness, vibrant and intense, very complete, red berries and salt on the fine, extended finish."

The élévage will be completed at Maison Edouard Delaunay under the supervision of our dear friend and recently elected BIVB President Laurent Delaunay and IWC winemaker of the year (two years running) Christophe Briotet.

Success at the auction was the icing on the cake after Honest Grapes first Hospices Barrels Syndicates tour. Any new enquiries will go to the head of the queue on the waiting list for our next Hospices Syndicate (Hopsices de Beaune 2022 - opening in October).

Please let us know if there’s a wine voyage on your bucket list – we love any excuse to explore together.