Vintage Pairs Events

Vintage Pairs Blind Tasting

In this blind tasting session, we select five wines, serve them blind and, as a group, work deductively through the tasting process to uncover the wine. The trick here is we actually serve ten wines – two wines with something in common, served in pairs.

1st Pair: NV Champagne Chavost - Blanc de Chardonnay Brut Nature & Blanc de Meunier Brut Nature

Champagne Chavost was established in 1946 and is based in the village of Chavot-Courcourt in the Coteaux Sud d’Epernay (which acts as the continuation of the Côte des Blancs heading north), Champagne Chavost is quite unique in the region: A grower champagne inside a co-op. The co-op operates for several farmers in the sector, and in 2016 when the current winemaker Fabien Daviaux made drastic change by convincing some of the farmers to change their vineyard practices to organic which is far from the norm in Champagne, and through this initiative, managed to convert 5 hectares. He decided to push the initiative further by creating a brand, using those organic grapes, to make champagne in the most natural way with zero additives: no sulphur, even at bottling (which is quite rare), no clarification, and no dosage. The result is wines of great purity, which are deep, fresh, and extremely easy to drink.  The wine is 'made' in the vineyard using organic farming and spontaneous yeasts. Starting fermentation is usually done by gravity. The wine is ageing for 4 months in stainless steel tanks, then another 20 months in the bottle before disgorgement. As for the soil, the Chardonnay plots are north facing in middle lower slope composed of chalk. The Meunier plots are located on top of the slope composed with limestone soil. Both were planted with vines of 10 to 60 years old in average. The Blanc de Chardonnay is all about the fresh, vibrant, and delicacy chardonnay brings to champagne. The Blanc de Meunier has been a trendy grape in recent years, classically known for being fun, delicious, nice fruit and texture and great to drink at any time. Both wines were disgorged in February 2023 and 5,733 and 6,023 bottles were produced respectively.

2nd Pair: 2008 & 2009 Domaine J. Faiveley - Bienvenues Batard Montrachet Grand Cru

Bienvenues-Bâtard Montrachet, adjoining Les Pucelles, is located adjacent to the northeast corner of Bâtard-Montrachet. Wines from Bienvenues-Bâtard-Montrachet offer more finesse and delicacy, just like those from neighbouring Les Pucelles. The size covers about 3.5ha split among 11 owners (Faiveley owns 0.51ha).

Domaine J. Faiveley was founded in 1825 in Nuits St-Georges. Over seven generations, the domaine has never ceased to grow by acquiring vineyards. Currently managed by Erwan Faiveley since 2005, he has invested in new wine making facilities and producing wine more accessible in its youth but still with ability to age in the cellar. Faiveley owns since 2008 about 0.51ha of Bienvenues Batard Montrachet from the acquisition of Domaine Monnot and its parcels. The vineyard facing east, is planted with vines averaging 40 years on fine brown soils with limestone. The grapes are harvested and sorted by hand. The musts are extracted using a pneumatic press before being settled. Vinification lasts 4 weeks and takes place in French oak barrels (50-60% of which are new oak). The wines are stirred frequently in order to keep the wine in contact with the lees and then aged for 18 months. This enables them to retain excellent tension and aromatic complexity as well as a smooth, delicate palate.

In the Boillot family, the domain was established by Henri Boillot's grandfather in 1885. Nowadays, Henri who is the 3rd generation is working closely with his son Guillaume to produce wines. In 2011, we extended the cellars and buildings in Meursault, and acquired some vines in Puligny-Montrachet, notably in the Batard appellation. They interfere with the growing process as little as possible, and only a select few are permitted access to the vines. They established this philosophy of non-intervention as early as the 1990s, making the domain a forerunner in a practice that has since become widespread. Henri Boillot, grapes are whole bunch pressed using a vertical press, clarified fairly thoroughly, then vinified without any lees stirring. Elevage is done in a 350L new oak barrel from Francois Freres. The wines are racked to tank before harvest, then are fined and filtered for bottling in December. The wine is very pure with a little crisp toastiness from the oak, supported by good acidity.

3rd Pair: 1994 & 2004 Chateau Haut Brion

Château Haut Brion is located in Pessac on the left bank, winemaking history can be traced back to five centuries ago. It is known to be the oldest of the 1st growth classification. Nowadays, the Château is owned by Domaine Clarence Dillon and is headed by Jean-Philippe Delmas. The vineyard covering an area of 48.35 hectares is planted with 45.4% Merlot, 43.9% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9.7% Cabernet Franc, and 1% Petit Verdot. The average production per year is between 10,000 to 12,000 cases. The maturing period in oak casks is between 18 to 22 months in 80% new oak. The soil is gravel with high portion of clay in some parcels. The wine is known for its ageing capacity, its aromatic richness, and complexity. Also it’s ready to drink earlier than most First Growths. The consistency in the quality can be found even in difficult vintages.

The vintage 1994 is characterized by its early ripening due to the very mild winter. A quite cold and humid Spring slowed down the vegetation a little. Summer was hot with several thunderstorms. The evenness of the flowering was also evident during the ripening. Some Rainfall in September accelerated the picking of a generally sound and well-ripened harvest. The wine drinks very well and has fine tannins. It has notes of black fruits, forest floor, spices, leather and chocolates. The ratio in the blend was 52% Merlot, 44% Cabernet Sauvignon and 4% Cabernet Franc.

The vintage 2004 began with an extremely rainy month of January. In spite of this marked humid start up, the year 2004 in finis finale turned out to be short on the humidity factor. The flowering at the beginning of June took place under perfect climate conditions and was swift with a pleasing equilibrium. The August rain was for the most part concentrated during the last two weeks. As a result we decided to remove some of the leaves covering the bunches on the vines. This maneuver enabled the harvesting of ripe and healthy grapes during the superb month of September. The wine is superb with notes of casis, blueberry, black currant, plum, violet, tobacco leaf and nutmeg. The ratio in the blend was 61% Merlot, 20 % Cabernet Sauvignon, and 19% Cabernet Franc.

4th Pair: 2013 Domaine J-F Mugnier - Nuits St Georges 1er Cru 'Clos de la Marechale' & 2017 Domaine Prieure Roch - Nuits St Georges 1er Cru Vieilles Vignes

Domaine Jacques-Frédéric Mugnier is a magnificent estate based in Chambolle-Musigny with history tracing back to 1863, with a holding of a bit over 13 hectares in total. Since the mid-20th century, vineyards were leased to Faiveley for about three decades. In 1985, Frédéric Mugnier (5th generation) became in charge of the domaine. The wines gained a tremendous reputation under his management, as he has always been aiming for balance and consistency in his wines regardless the challenges of the vintages. Frédéric takes care of the health of the vines through minimal intervention, and all harvests are done carefully by sorting the berries. All grapes are destemmed. Not much new oak is used for maturation of his wines, and bottling is generally after 12 to 16 months without fining and filtration. As Jasper Morris mentioned in his book Inside Burgundy, when tasting at the domaine “his wines had a sense of harmony about them”. This 2013 vintage is within drinking window with silky tannins and has notes of mineral, raspberry, cherry, floral, and black tea.

Henry Frederic Roch (grandson of Henri Leroy) was working as the co-director of Domaine de la Romanee Conti, when DRC decided to sell some parcels in Vosne Romanee. Henry jumped at the opportunity to purchase them himself, and started Domaine Prieure Roch in 1988. Today the domaine comprises around twenty hectares spread over the multi-secular terroirs of Gevrey-Chambertin, Vosne-Romanée, Vougeot, Nuits-Saint-Georges, Ladoix and Savigny-les-Beaune. Yannick Champ is managing the domaine, in charge of the wine making and viticulture. When it comes to style, the work begins in the vineyard with an all organic approach and working exclusively with old vines.  Harvest comes in a few waves, whole cluster fermentation, and punch downs by foot.  No sulphur is used until the wines are racked. The wines are matured 20 months in 100% new oak and there is no fining and no filtering before bottling. This 2017 Nuits 1er VV comes from the oldest vines of Clos des Corvees which is about 80 year old. It has notes of red and dark cherries, earth, and rose petals.

5th Pair: 2014 Rhys Vineyards - Horseshoe Vineyard Syrah & Jean-Rene Germanier - Cayas Reserve Syrah

Jean-René Germanier is located in Balavaud, a hamlet of the commune of Vétroz situated in the centre of the Valais and the Rhône Valley, and was founded in 1886; it’s one of the oldest wineries in Switzerland. The grapes grow on Schisteux hillsides on the right bank of the Rhône. The soil is a combination of glacial moraine and slate. One of the major factors here, much like the Mistral wind in the Rhône Valley in France, is the Föhn wind. The Föhn’s influence creates a continental climate and makes this area the driest wine region in Switzerland. In terms of vineyard practices, they use a sustainable approach to the use of chemical intervention and are farming in accordance with the standards of Bio Suisse (only 3 wineries in Switzerland are following these standards). They’re focused on preserving the traditions and grapes of the region. The average age of their Syrah vines is 35 years old. For winemaking, the grapes are macerated for 10 days, and they do 20-day cap peeling. Then, the wine is aged in barrel for twenty-four months, 50% of which are new. In addition, they use a sustainable approach for their viticulture and are one of only three wineries in Switzerland who follow the standards of Bio Suisse which results in a concentrated wine from deeply rooted, healthy vines. And the climate created where these vines are situated from the impact of the Föhn wind enables Jean-René Germanier to produce a fresh and vibrant Syrah. The vintage 2014 is ready to drink with ripe and fine tannins, and a nice acidity. It has notes of dark cherry, smoke, pepper, bacon, licorice and floral notes.

Rhys Vineyards was founded in 2004 by Kevin Harvey, a passionate wine collector who frequented the best vineyards in France before going back home to seek out what he thought were the best sites in California to make some of the world’s best wine. His research led him to his own backyard – the rugged, rocky terroir of the Santa Cruz Mountains. With the help of Jeff Brinkman for the winemaking, the wines are made from organic and biodynamically farmed fruit. Though only ½ mile from the Alpine Vineyard, Horseshoe is more sheltered and produces a more mineral, focused and tensile style of wine. It is one of those cooler vineyards in California which can produce very Rhône like syrahs. The vines are planted on 2.47 acres of land facing southwest with clones of Chave and Côte Rotie field blend. Their winemaking process, from harvest to bottling, is based on a gravity system and the wines are never pumped, fined, or filtered. That is how they produce compelling, distinctive, soil-driven wine. Though only ½ mile from the Alpine Vineyard, Horseshoe is more sheltered and produces a more mineral, focused and tensile style of wine. It is one of those cooler vineyards in California which can produce very Rhône like syrahs. The wines of 2014 is concentrated and structured made with 100% Syrah. The wines are matured for about 18 months in 10% new oak barrels. The wine is dense with some minerality. It has notes of raspberry, black pepper, blackberry.

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