Skip to Main Content

A Sophisticated Trini Wine

By Jeremy Matouk, published on Island Origins Magazine on the 20th of November, 2017

In spite of ridiculously high duties on wine, more and more, Trinibagonians are discovering the wine experience. Compared to beer and rum, our traditional drinks of choice, decent wine is quite expensive. But we are, nonetheless, developing a fascination with variety and exploring finer options in the process.

For me, the fascination began 40 years ago while at university trying to impress my future bride, but really became a passion in my 30s and thereafter. Having tried hundreds of wines from different countries and regions I became more and more inquisitive. In 2004 I decided to take a second honeymoon and explore several of Italy’s regions—specifically Piedmont, Tuscany and Umbria. I needed to experience first-hand where the wines were from, and to learn more about the people that made them.

What I discovered was such a romantic and educational experience. I knew then I had to be part of the world of wine—either as a winery owner or wine merchant. To do either necessitated much more travel and exploration. Over the next few years I visited wine regions in Napa, Sonoma, Chile, Argentina, Spain and France, so different from the cane fields that yielded the spirits of my home. Travel and exploration have taught me that all great wine has locational identity. Wine writers call it ‘terroir’ but it is more than that. It is also about culture, cuisine and tradition.

Our multi-cultural heritage and cuisine here on the islands of Trinidad and Tobago, lend themselves very well to all sorts of wine experimentation. A personal favorite with local cuisine is White Hermitage (from the Northern Rhône Valley) with curry. It’s a culinary marriage made in heaven. All it takes is an adventurous spirit and an open mind.

Photograph by Kyle Walcott via Island Origins Magazine. (Scaled via AI.)

Cover photograph by Photo Mix via

France: Domaine de Bellene

Nicolas Potel produces some of the most sought-after wines in the Burgundy region. Nicolas learned the art of winemaking on his family’s estate in Volnay. In 2005, he established his own winery, Domaine de Bellene, and in 2008, he launched Maison Roche de Bellene, his negociant business. Nicolas blends traditional and modern techniques by using grapes from old vines and biodynamic and organic farming methods.

France: Stephane Aviron

Stephane Aviron is a small, independent wine-maker in the Beaujolais region of France, which is located immediately south of Burgundy. Stephane has earned a reputation for being a neo-traditionalist, combining grapes from very old vines with both modern and traditional wine-making methods to produce wines that stand up to the finest of Burgundies in quality and complexity.

France: M. Chapoutier

One of the most highly-regarded winemakers in France, Michel Chapoutier can trace his family’s history in the Rhône Valley back to 1808, when his great-great-great-grandfather Marius purchased an estate and some vineyards in the beautiful village of Tain L’Hermitage. Michel Chapoutier is considered a pioneer of biodynamic winemaking, the objective being to enable the terroir “to express itself fully” in the wines. To date, M. Chapoutier’s wines have garnered more than 500 90+ ratings from Wine Spectator and The Wine Advocate.

France: Jacques Cacheux

Jacques Cacheux began making wine in the Burgundy region of France in the 1950s. The Cacheux estate has 7 hectares of vines spread over 11 appellations, including Vosne Romanée, Echézeaux and Nuits-St-Georges.

In 1994, Jacques retired and left his winemaking in the hands of his son, Patrice, who has elevated the small winery to attract the attention of some of the most discerning palettes.

A Potel Story in Burgundy

First of all, my parents came in 1964, and they bought a part of the Duveault Blochet vineyard, 12 Hectares in Côtes de Beaune. Volnay, Pommard and Santenay. Then they bought the house in Volnay, with great cellars and winery.

My father was a perfectionist, and he was a modern winemaker for that time. He vinified is 1964 in Santenay, and bring the casks in Volnay. At that time he was using 100% new barrels, and all cluster during vinification. The wines stay 18 months in barrels, and bottling without filtration. But two racking during the élevage.

Then 1965 came, first vintage in Volnay! A very bad year, a lot of botrytis, difficult at that time. So he was the first to do the ‘triage’. He bring the equivalent of 65000 bottles and at the end he bottled only 18000 bottles. The rest was the triage! Everybody in the village where thinking he was creasy! What about now?

Then he vinified the great 1966, the bad 1968, the great 1969,1970,1971… All those years where aging in 100% new barrels. He change in 1978, and he decide to drop the amount of new casks to 35%. He was smilling when the fashion of new casks came in the 80’.

In 1973, he was trying the ‘Saignée’, with all the problem of bad vintage, his focus was to find a way to win concentration. Again, he was one of the first to do the saignées, and in the 80’ he was one of the first to used the concentration machine made by Durafroid. The idea was to take out some of the water from the juice. Because the saignée was not a good system, the first juice is the best! We try the machine few years, and then we stop, it was not great for the terroir definition.

He work a lot finding new ideas, acidification, sugar, thermo tanks, roter tanks… He was always trying new techniques.

Vineyard management was the same focus. He try and make some machine for the soil, for the pruning, a lot of work with the clonale selection…

A great Estate, and a great team him and my mother, they did a lot of innovation.

Also they have been very successful on marketing. Since the start, they have been selling the wines cellar door, with a newsletter every year. 50% of the wines was sold directly from the Estate to consumers.

Then they organize a great world reputation, and the wines was going in 30 country.

I start working in 1987, at Domaine Matrot. After a difficult time at school, my father ask me to work with Thierry, and that experience was great. I loved wine from that point, I was nearly 18, and I ask to stop school one year to work.

So I went in Australia, and I worked for Keith Mugford, who was just starting his new life as the new owner of Moss Wood in Margaret River. Great time, and great people.

From that point I worked for a lot of people around the world of wine. In Burgundy for Laurent Juillot, and for Christophe Roumier.

In Australia for Moss Wood again, for Leeuwin Estate, Wirra Wirra, and then for the great John and Marly Middleton at Mount Mary. In California for Tom Delhinger.

Great experience for a young boy, and great moment for life. I learn a lot about vineyard management, the experience of new terroir, the difficulty fining new style, the date of picking, the clone selection, the climate, the crop..

In the winery, it was very good to learn about all the techniques, specially coming from a part of the world where we don’t used all those product. So I work with yeast, DAP, bacteries, enzymes and all sort of oenologie materials.

I think it was very important for me to learn about all that, and to find my own way after all. It’s always important to go very far, to learn, to get confidence on what we doing.

So the new world was great, and my little experience help me now. I still have a good contact with Keith, and I send him people for harvest, and he send me people too.

At Domaine Juillot it was a great experience, because Laurent was in charge of the vinification for the first time in 1988, and we have a lot of work to do. Great vintage, one of the best in my life, but very difficult because our approach was too easy. It’s a vintage where the best wines came from all custer, and because the molecules of tannins where so big it was difficult to extract. So long fermentation and long time in cask. Too many wines are dry now! If you try Clos Tavannes from my father, all cluster it’s a great wine.

At Domaine Matrot, I learn to be strong in what you doing, no fashion. And so much with Pierre Matrot, for the vineyard management, super guy.

At Domaine Roumier, I was lucky to work with Jean Mary, Christophe father. Again one of the best winemaker in Burgundy, so elegant. With Christophe I learn how to be super precise, like my father.

But from all of them, I learn the most important, is to put the best attention about details, small details!

I came back at Domaine de la Pousse D’Or, in 1992, and I worked there until my father death in 1997. But I help from 1989 for the vineyard management, and I bring the Estate to lutte raisonnée.

Difficult time between son and father, but great time. I was in charge of the vineyard, and I said that the time was good to start the organic culture. So he agree, but he said it was my problem, and he wants great grapes with no problem. So we worked a lot, and we bring the vineyard back. Before his death, he said to my mother that the vineyard was coming back to the quality of the 60’.

Working for him was very good, and I learn so much that I was ready to start my own little house. In 1996, I said to my father that Pousse D’Or was not for me, and it will be difficult to buy all the share. I decide to start a little négoce, and to have my own company. So we start together, and we bought grapes in 1997, the idea was to sell the vineyards, and to keep the house and the stock with his share. But he died suddenly, and the associates sale there share to somebody.

So I start alone the Nicolas POTEL house. A little winery in Volnay, then I find a little winery in Nuits St Georges. With all my contact, I start very quick, and I find the best wines in Côte D’Or. All my friend, the good winemakers from here sell me wines.

I vinified 10 hectares in 1998, and I bought 200 barrels of wines. Then I find a new winery in front of my cellar, the train Station. So I have been working there since 2000 vintage.

Coming from an estate, it was very easy to find the best vineyard, and to talk with the growers. I help a lot of them to start on organic, and I always try to be fare in term of the price. It was new for Burgundy to pay the same price for grapes than wine.

I know that my time in the new world help me a lot to start my company. I have a lot of freedom at that time, no Estate, no reputation, and a lot to try.

I decide to be free from oenologic materials. So all natural, only sugar at that time, no acidification, no yeast, no enzymes… I start to do filtration with the 2000 vintage and from that I have been changing a lot of small details to get clear wines. I start with changing my box, smaller box for the grapes. Then vibrant table to take the sediment out, I change the destumer for a new one that nobody have in Burgundy and it’s called ‘égreneur’, we bring the grapes inside the tanks with small container so we get full berries for vinified.

I change my bag press for a vertical press, that was one of the great issue to get pure juice coming from pressing. Normally you have to take the free juice, and then leaving the press juice out from the cuvée. With the vertical press, the press juice are beautiful, so it’s going to the final blend just after pressing. The juice are very clear, so we don’t need enzymes! and no filtration. We change the pomps, we are using an Italian pomp called Francesca, which push the wine, again it’s helping to get clear juice. The details from the racking, with the moon, and the days of racking! I was telling you that I learned from my different boss the ‘soucis du détail’ and how to improve to get better wines.

‘A Drizzly Day in Burgudy’ by Eric Huybrechts. Used via Creative Commons licence.

In 2002, the crisis was hard, and we have difficulties to sell the 2001 vintage. So we decide with my wife to sell some share to a new partner. We find a lot of people, but we never finalise the deal.

In 2003, my wife was pregnant, and we have some difficulty during that time. My wife as to stay in bed at the hospital for 4 months. So the year was very special, and I wasn’t 100% at my work, mainly at the hospital with my wife.

We met the Cottin brothers in july 2003, and they want to be partner but not 30%, they gives us an option for 100% of the company. The price was good, and the future was clement. We make a deal in October, and we start the joint venture in January 2004.

I was doing 5,000,000€ in 2003, and I bring the company up to 9,000,000€ in 2008, we worked like creasy, and everything was going well until the crisis coming.

The Cottin decide to sell the group, and they fired Olivier Martin who was the head manager of the group in January 2009, then Thomas Leclerc who was the second of the group. In march they fired me, and they said that I was not making the wines for them, it was Fabrice Lesne my second who was vinified the wines since 2001. It’s was creasy from them to buy my company in 2004, with this vision that I wasn’t doing anything?

They are big négociant, they never liked the fact that I was vinified, and they never liked free person in a group. I was working 120% for the little company, but maybe not 150%?

I always believe to make a great brand in Burgundy, you have to vinified, and you have to get the best vineyard. So you can’t do a great cuvée of Santenots coming from 10 producers, but you can do 5 great Volnay 1er Cru from 10 different producer in small lot.

And for me the terroir is the key, to bring the brand at a high level, you should have a great line. It was good for them for a time, but then they decide to reduce the range to a very few wines. And to increase the little wines by far.

Margin is also important for the value of work, they prefer to sell with very small margin and high volume. That is not my conception, and again the brand was to new to increase the volume, and to be at a lower level.

There is some good winemaker for high volume, I am not like this, I am not coming from that training.

In 2005, one of my grower ask me if I want to take back is vineyard ‘En Fermage’, for 25 years, with an option to buy the vineyard at the end. I ask the Cottin, who said they don’t want vineyard. I rent the vineyard, and I start my little Estate with one worker. I have all ready 1.2 ha from my mother, and I always sell my grapes to my company since 1998. So the deal was easy, I make organic grapes, and I sell those to NP. In 2006 I took more vineyard, and when I did the invoice, the Cottin decide that the grapes were too expensive.

So I fight during one year about that with them, and I bring my avocat to fight them. After few month they agreed all, the time was going well, we did a great year. But I said that I will never sell grapes anymore, I start Domaine Potel, and we agreed to sell the wines under my label ‘POTEL’ and the Domaine as to give a commission for using the name. When they fired me, they used this pretext, that I was doing my own. But it was clear from our fight, that I will never be without anything, I have all ready a story with Pousse D’Or, and I know how hard it is to start again!

Then they fired Claire Forestier, saying that they don’t like small company! They fired Xavier Meney, my sell rep, because they didn’t liked him.

So now, I am not at in Nuits St Georges anymore. We change the name from Domaine POTEL to Domaine De Bellene. This is the old name of Beaune, coming from the god BELLENOS. I don’t want to fight with the old block, and I want freedom.

We have now 24 hectares, with very old vineyard, and a lot of Massale Selection. So we have Santenay Blanc Les Charmes Dessus young vines, St Romain Blanc from 5 differents vineyard old vines massale selection, Volnay from 20 years vineyard, a great cuvée of Bourgogne coming from my father vineyard planted in 1928 and some from comblanchien 50 years old. Then we have 6 Beaune 1° Cru, specially the BEAUNE 1° Cru Grèves 104 years old. We are starting a great massale selection from that vineyard, and I hired a girl to do a great analysis of the Terroir during one year at the faculté de Dijon. We have a old selection of Savigny les Beaune Village white and red. Two 1° cru from savigny. Then we have a great selection of old vines from côtes de Nuits Villages red and whites. In 2009, new line from Côtes de Nuits, 3 hectares of old Vines Nuits St georges, Vosne Romanée closed to Echezeaux, one vineyard of Vosne Romanée 1° Cru Suchots and then one vineyard of Nuits St Georges 1° Cru Chaignots. 80% is coming from Massale Selection.

I am still looking for great vineyard, a lot of people want to work with us. We are very proud to work on organic, and the vineyard are very healthy. So the owner of the vineyard talk to their friend and push them to talk with me. So we still have a great potential in the future. It’s more easy to control the vineyard, and it’s my life too. So now I am talking for some Grands Crus, with two growers, and I hope we can do something together.

I have always try to be organic, it’s my goal from Pousse D’Or, I believe that you are more in contact with the plant. You can’t do mistakes, and the worker prefer it now. It’s more work, and you can’t be completely organic because the tractors, but I am using only sulpher and copper! 15 times this year, so we are using only 6 KG / ha. In conventionnel, they are using 1.5 KG per spray! Now a lot of my customer like the idea, and the people ask for those wines. The quality increase in the last years, that’s the answer.

So I believe that if I am in organic, I have to do all. So the building is rebuild with the Canadien architecture concept of HQI High Quality Environmental. It’s hard, you have to used only clean product, and if you can closed to you. So I by my wood from Burgundy only, the painting is organic, the isolation is coming from hash, special friendly light, solar pad, rain water, and I will get next year a heating machine working with wood who will come from our pruning! So I will heat all my building with my vineyard. We want to be free CO2, and low energy. Recycle bottles, recycle paper for the labels, organic glue, wax again capsules and the box have no colour only carton. As you see, we try to be friendly from the vineyard to the winery.

Vinification as simple as possible, with the same care of Nuits St Georges, no oenological products, no acidification and no sugar. Natural.

Then in wood for 14 month, with about 20% new only for the cru, and a lot of big barrels 600 liters for the whites. To keep them longer. Few month in tanks, and bottling by gravity without filtration.

I still control the old wines selection, and we have a lot of new wines coming. I always loved the old wines, and it’s a pleasure to sell them. I am still partner with Stéphane AVIRON, and the little house is going well. We want to build a new winery next year.

Roche de Bellene, is the new name of my négoce. I just make a deal with two great house in Burgundy, to used their facilities for vinified some wines. I am coming back tomorrow for that!

Best regards,
Nicolas POTEL

France: Delas

Delas was founded over 160 years ago in the northern Rhône Valley in France. Having been acquired by Champagne Deutz in 1977, Delas is a study in coexistence between traditional and modern approaches to winemaking, embracing its own long history and the rebirth that has come with the Champagne Deutz influence.

Under the guidance of winemaker Jacques Grange, Delas combines state-of-the-art equipment and meticulous attention to detail to produce wines that are complex yet economical. The winery’s vineyards can be found on the steep, scenic slopes of the northern Rhône, and are part of some of the region’s most prominent appellations.

France: Famille Perrin

Famille Perrin—or the Perrin family—has been making wine at Château de Beaucastel in the Rhône Valley of France since 1909. Marc Perrin, currently in charge, is part of the 5th generation of the family.

The Château gets its name from the Beaucastel family, who were prominent residents of the area in the 16th Century. The winery is best known for its Châteauneuf du Pape wines. Famille Perrin grows 13 varieties of grapes on 100 hectares of continuous plots, which is unusual for the region. Three quarters of the vineyards are within the Châteauneuf du Pape appellation.

Why French Wines?

Some of you may be asking the question: ‘Why did Cru start off with exclusively French wines?’ After all the Trinidad and Tobago market is largely a market for New World varietals—Argentine Malbec, Chilean Cabernet, Australian Shiraz, etc, etc. French wine seems almost a throwback to the past, before all these New World varietals came to dominate the local market. What’s more, they are harder to understand and without specific wine knowledge it seems like the buyer is taking a chance. Will I like it? What does it taste like? How do I know what I’m getting?

There are good reasons for the popularity of these New World varietals—they are inexpensive (meaning a good selection between $80-150) and they are easy to understand (what’s to figure out with Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot?) Wine buying made easy. Many customers I interface with tell me “I like Merlot” or “I like Pinot Noir.” French wines by comparison are something of a mystery. You can seldom tell what grape is in the bottle with French wine. It’s usually a place name. It’s like we’re supposed to know the grape type. Well, not really. The French are not too caught up with single varietals as the new world. They have been making wine before many new world countries were even discovered.

This is especially true with Bordeaux wines, typically a mixture of 4 grape types—Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot, in vastly varying proportions. Pomerol for example is almost exclusively Merlot while Pauillac is heavy on the Cabernet Sauvignon. And what about Graves, Margaux, St. Emilion, St. Estephe and all those other Bordeaux names? Yes, it can be quite a mystery and the French producers have been roundly criticised for assuming that consumers either have this knowledge or are willing to purchase on blind trust. No wonder the New World Varietals are so popular! It gets even more confusing when you start talking about regions like the Loire and the Rhône Valley. Who the hell buys that stuff any more?

France is Still the Benchmark

So why then did Cru go for French wines to start off its business? Are we mad or just pompous? Who would be so crazy to go against the grain of clear consumer preference? There are several reasons.

Having travelled to many parts of the wine world and meeting hundreds of winemakers, we have come to realise that France is still the reference point by which most, if not all, wines are judged and compared. Where do the Barolo makers go to learn about producing wine from the finicky Nebbiolo grape? To Burgundy where they have been producing wines from the even more finicky Pinot Noir for centuries and where vineyard and cellar techniques have been perfected over centuries.

When top Napa Valley wineries (known for their exceptional Cabernet Sauvignon) produce a ‘meritage’ (a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot) what do they compare it to? To a Bordeaux.

When Chilean wineries receive the highest praise the reference comparison is usually French Bordeaux or Burgundy. The Australians’ development of Shiraz is an attempt to reproduce the Côte-Rôties and Hermitages of the Northern Rhône and their more recent GSM blends are Southern Rhône combinations of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre of which Côte du Rhône and Châteaneuf-du-Pape are made. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

These comments are in no way intended to denigrate any of the new world wines. Indeed I find them excellent and they usually offer excellent value (with the exception of Napa Valley which I find ridiculously expensive). In fact I have drunk more non-French wine than I have drunk French wine over the years. There was a time when I drank little or no French wine at all. I was busy exploring all the new world had to offer. After a time however the lure of French wine returned. The problem was that the offerings on the local market, apart from Bordeaux, were few and far between and worse yet most of them were overpriced and did not offer a quality/price relationship that was attractive. But as Hugh Johnson says “Nobody argues with the primacy of France as the country that set the international standards by which wine is judged.”

Wines for the Wine Lover

In contemplating our entry into the local wine market the initial temptation was to follow the competition and begin with the wines of Chile, Argentina and Australia, as these were the most popular wines on the market. Had we done that we would have simply become yet another supplier of wines that were already widely available. To the wine lover looking to expand their selection we would be of little relevance or interest.

We decided instead to take the bold step of sourcing fine French wines that could compete on a price basis with the new world offerings of the other importers and offer wine lovers authentic alternatives. In this regard we noted that Burgundy and the Rhône Valley were particularly underrepresented in the local supply chain. So we did extensive research on both regions and then visited in person to find the makers we respected and who we felt would offer good value-for-money propositions.

We are very confident in the wines we have sourced. The public reaction so far has exceeded our expectations. What we did not originally contemplate is the fact that all the wines we have sourced are consistently well-made. Our decision to transport them and store them with utmost care has also paid off. Most customers tell us that, having tasted properly-transported and stored wines, they cannot go back to buying wines that have been exposed to excessive and prolonged heat and which have been thus damaged to a greater or lesser degree.

Of course we do not intend to restrict our selection to only French wines. As we grow we will add wines from all regions and countries. We will ensure however that every wine we import will be carefully selected and meticulously transported so as to guarantee that our customers enjoy the real thing.

The Enigma of Burgundy

I find it amazing that many Pinot Noir and Chardonnay lovers seem to have a problem with Burgundy. Why do I say that? Well, Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays from California, Oregon, Washington State, Chile, New Zealand and Australia sell very well yet Burgundies tend to sit on the shelf. Why is that?

Burgundy is that wine region in eastern-central France that is situated between the cities of Dijon to the north and Lyon to the south, including the region of Chablis just to the north-west of Dijon. At its centre is the beautiful and charming medieval town of Beaune. The northern part is known as the Cote-de-Nuits, the central part as the Cote d’Or and the southern parts are the Cote Challonais and Beaujolais.

All red Burgundy is made from Pinot Noir (except for Beaujolais which is made from Gamay) and all white Burgundy is made from Chardonnay. Pinot Noir and Chardonnay are grapes varieties that are native to Burgundy and have been grown there for hundreds of years. They find their most sublime expressions in the soils of Burgundy and the hands of the Burgundian winemakers, yet so many wine consumers look at a bottle of Burgundy with a mixture of confusion and fear.

Perhaps the reason for this can be explained by two facts. First, most Burgundy is quite expensive. A decent bottle cannot be had for much under $200, the good stuff costs $300 plus and often much more. That’s at retail, in restaurants one can usually double or triple those prices. For most wine consumers that is big money. The reason behind the pricing is simply demand and supply. There is just not that much good Burgundy produced and wealthy wine buyers are prepared to pay top dollar for the good ones, which incidentally drives up the price of all Burgundy.

To give a stark example, it is all but impossible to get one’s hands on a bottle of Domaine de La Romanee-Conti’s ‘La Tache’ and those lucky enough to get a small allocation are willing to pay US$3-4,000 per bottle. Nothing from Bordeaux or anywhere else even approaches such price points for current vintages.

Secondly, Burgundy is a confusing region with many denominations and it’s hard to know the difference between a Chambolle-Musigny, a Gevrey-Chambertin and a Volnay, far less an Echezeaux, a Nuits St. Georges or a Santenay. And that’s just touching the surface; among the Villages, 1er Crus and Grand Crus there are also many single-vineyard names to contend with, which can make buying Burgundy a most intimidating experience for the uninitiated. Most people just shake their heads and buy simpler wines that they understand.

Worse again is the fact that paying top dollar does not guarantee one will get a tasty bottle of wine. I have had expensive Burgundies that are not worth a tenth of what I paid. Little wonder then that most wine consumers just shy away.

But what are they missing? Simply put, Burgundies are among the most elegant, complex and ethereal wines made on earth. They are able to express terroir—the effect of soil, climate and environment—like no other wines. It is possible to taste the difference between vineyards a mere few hundred yards apart. The levels of minerality, the subtlety and complexity of flavours, the gaminess and earthiness are often characteristics that only discriminating and experienced palates can appreciate. I know many wine lovers who just don’t appreciate these qualities and think Burgundy a complete waste of money. For those who do however, there is nothing else like it.

With wine drinking becoming a more and more popular pastime, there is a growing interest in Burgundy, especially among wine lovers who have become a little tired or bored with New-World varietals that offer no sense of locational identity.

Finding good Burgundy to buy therefore requires either a lot of patience, a lot of money or a good wine merchant who has done the homework.

After intensive research for about two years I actually went to the region and visited scores of wineries I had learned about. I swirled, smelt, tasted and spat hundreds of wines, some ordinary, some very good, some so brilliant they were “unspittable.” One day while walking the streets of Beaune I happened on a retailer who had a vast collection of the finest Burgundies in his showcase. Frederic Henry, who thankfully spoke good English, gave me a short but necessary education in Burgundy. I learned that there are 1,900 or so makers in the region of which only 100 are any good. Of that 100, 75 are horrendously expensive. The remaining 25 are the up-and-coming winemakers who are producing excellent wines but who have not yet earned the right to charge a fortune.

From that small group I chose to buy from just two. Nicolas Potel is something of a winemaker prodigy with a cult following. He purchases grapes from some appellations while owning his own vines in others. This young winemaker, whose father was himself a famous winemaker in his own right until his premature death, is gifted. It will not be long before his wines will cost an arm and a leg but so far he remains a value proposition.

The village of Vosne-Romanee is the home of the greatest vineyards in the Cote-de-Nuits. This village, for many wine connoisseurs, is the Mecca of the wine world. The wine writer Hugh Johnson put it very simply: “There are no common wines in Vosne.” Allen Meadows, probably the most respected expert on Burgundy, called the Vosne ‘The Pearl of The Cote’.

It is in this village that we found Domaine Jacques Cacheux and proprietor Patrice Cacheux. As was the case with Nicolas Potel, every sample we tasted was yummy, expressive and memorable. Patrice has, within the last six or seven years, raised the quality of his domaine to rank with the very best. He too will be ‘expensive’ before long.

As with all great Burgundy, these wines are smooth, expressive and subtle, offering complex flavours and delicate balance. For those of you who do not appreciate strong, mouth-drying tannins as a pre-requisite to full favour, red Burgundy offers an elegant and sublime wine experience. They are wines that work equally well as pre-dinner aperitifs as companions to food.

If you like Pinot Noir and Chardonnay and are willing to explore, you will come to love Burgundy.

Copyright © 2020 Cru Fine Wine Merchants. All Rights Reserved.

Website designed and developed by Forge Business Imagery with input by Maleika Samuel Attawel and Gabrielle Gilliland. Designers and developers of open source icons, graphics and scripts listed on humans.txt . To remember your preferences, this website uses cookies. We respect your privacy and store this information on your own device. By continuing to use this website, you consent to such use. View our privacy policy for more information.