I was fortunate to be able to meet some prominent members of this association and participate at their tasting event during the wine fair “Les Grands Jours de Bourgogne”.
The association was founded in 2000, as an idea sharing and promotional tool, spotlighting the important role of women in the wine industry in Burgundy. There are currently around 30 members stretching from Chablis in the north of Burgundy, to Macon in the south. The members are not actively promoting the sale of their wines, but gather together 4 to 5 times a year to discuss business, share best practices and generally help each other in coping with the numerous challenges in running a wine estate, in which is still considered as a male-dominated sector of industry.
I personally know several members and have had the immense pleasure of tasting their excellent wines and sharing thoughts on the future of Burgundy and the wine industry.
Yesterday’s tasting was held at the Chateau de Chassagne estate in Chassagne Montrachet – an estate owned by the Picard family and who was represented by the friendly and charismatic Francine Picard and their estate called Au Pied du Mont Chauve.
I welcomed some great Chardonnay tastings after a hard day’s Pinot tasting yesterday. Of course there was also a superb selection of Pinot Noir, but you have to admit – Burgundy Whites are probably the best white wines in the world.
I started with Francine, before moving to Sophie Woillez of the Domaine La Croix Montjoie, near the town of Vezelay – a little bit off the beaten wine track…but as I was about to find out…well worth the detour. This was an estate that was highly recommended to me by other members:
“you must try her ‘Impatiente’ and ‘Élégante´ chardonnays, they are absolutely fabulous”…
And they were…and so it continued: Fabienne Bony, from the Domaine Jean-Pierre Bony – with a selection of very fine Nuits St Georges including my favourite Les Damodes, Estelle, Martine, Lyne, Anne, Françoise, Caroline, each with a welcoming smile and a brief presentation of their estates. I was becoming dizzy, seeing so many estates, only to find that there were another 15 or so waiting to present their wines downstairs in the Chateau de Chassagne estate’s beautiful cellars.
During 3 hours I tasted some very fine wines from all over Burgundy and some great value-for-money ones too. One frustrating side was that I only managed to visit a dozen or so stands, before my time was up. But nevertheless, I have the advantage of living locally and can meet up with these estates in calmer moments and I will be writing some separate articles on a selection of these estates and concentrating on the wines and the winemaker.
The event was scheduled from 3pm to 7pm – how you can get to see – yet alone taste – such great estates in 4 hours!! Impossible, and I was torn away by another engagement half an hour before the end. I just had time to say “hi and goodbye” to my friends Chantal from the Tortochot estate, Virginie (the President) from Taupenot Merme and Lorraine from Comte Senard before being confronted by another dilemma: Lyne Marchive from the domaine des Malandes” in Chablis (check this one out!), asked if I’d tasted her 2002 Grand Cru downstairs! Oh mon Dieu…
Yes they had even supplied at least two dozen older vintages for tasting – a rare opportunity in Burgundy! How can you refuse?
This event seemed in stark contrast to the Cotes de Nuits tasting the day before, where hassled “vignerons” were trying to cope with hoarding masses of “clients” pushing and stretching out their glasses for a drop of “Devine Pinot”. I’ve played rugby for many years, but that was some scrum down. Yesterday the “haven’t any wine to sell” phrase rang persistently in my ears, whereas this afternoon was played on a far more optimistic note.
Les Femmes et Vins de Bourgogne event, although very busy, showed class and elegance – but what do you expect!
It really was a shame to leave…