Tag Archives: Chambolle-Musigny

Jancis Robinson — The Beyoncé of Wine

Photo by Financial Times. Uploaded to Wikimedia Commons under CC-BY-2.0

The world of wine has a long history of influential women.

It’s entirely possible that the first “accidental winemakers” were women who were often responsible for gathering fruit and storing them in jars that would later start fermenting. Ancient cultures are awash with stories of wine goddesses like Paget, Siduri and Renen-utet.

In more recent history, we have the notable widows of Champagne and the trailblazing women winemakers of California as well as numerous other women figures from across the globe.

But for me, no woman in wine has been more influential than British Master of Wine and writer Jancis Robinson.

Independent Woman

My very well loved and well used 3rd Edition of the Oxford Companion to Wine.

Robinson studied mathematics and philosophy at St. Anne’s College of Oxford University, graduating with a Masters degree in 1971. Her original goal was to write about fashion but tasting a 1959 Chambolle-Musigny Les Amoureuses at Oxford enchanted her with the world of wine. In 1975, she accepted a position as an assistant editor for Wine & Spirit trade publication where she worked till 1980. During this time she began her studies for the Wine & Spirit Education Trust–earning the Rouyer-Guillet cup as the top Diploma student in 1978.

In 1983, she helped launched The Wine Programme on British television which was the world’s first television series dedicated to the topic of wine.

Initially, the diploma level was the highest level that a person outside the wine trade could achieve. But, in 1984, the Institute of Masters of Wine finally opened up the MW exams to non-trade personnel. Jancis Robinson was one of the first to take the exam. She passed on her first try–the first non-trade professional, male or female, to earn the title. She was the 11th female Master of Wine, following in the footsteps of Sarah Morphew Stephen who was the first in 1970.

In 1990, Robinson became the wine correspondent for the Financial Times. By 1994, she was editing the first edition of the Oxford Companion to Wine. While managing a team of contributors that ballooned up to 167 by the time the 3rd edition came out in 2006, Robinson personally wrote more than a third of the almost 4000 entries. It has been described by The Washington Post as “the greatest wine book ever published.” In 2015, a 4th edition was released.

Irreplaceable

2006 was also the year that I discovered my own passion for wine–at Disney World’s Epcot Center of all places. Touring around the different food pavilions, my 24-year-old palate fell in love with the Valcklenberg Madonna Riesling. It wasn’t 1959 Chambolle-Musigny Les Amoureuses, but that was enough to get me hooked and wanting to learn more.

I’ve had my geeky proclivities since I was a child, reading for fun things like the Encyclopedia Britannica in my free time. I loved getting lost in what I called “red text journeys” where I started reading an entry, following one of the capitalized red text words to a subsequent entry and so forth till I hit a dead-end. Then I would pick another entry and start again.

It was at Barnes and Noble when I first laid eyes on the beauty that was the Oxford Companion to Wine. The new pages smelled divine and my eyes lit up as I saw all the different entries (and RED TEXT WORDS!) Here was my new Brittanica! Of course, I flipped straight to the Riesling entry which covered three pages.

Another well loved and well marked up tome.

Bringing it home, I started following the red text words from Riesling to German History to Wild Vine to Phylloxera to Bordeaux and on along an endless ride that touched nearly every corner of the world of wine. The history entries and wine regions particularly enticed me as I saw a web connecting my fascination with history and geography to this continuing story about wine. It was a story that I wanted to put more in context which led me to Jancis Robinson’s Wine Course.

Crazy In Love

It was about 2007 when I purchased the DVD series and companion book. I watched the ten episodes with my wife, but the book was all mine to mark up and annotate to my heart’s desire. Here I learned some of the nitty-gritty details about tasting wine, deciphering wine labels as well as learning how grape varieties and place intertwined. From interviews Robinson had with people like Dominique Lafon, Lalou Bize Leroy, Didier Dagueneau and Randall Grahm, I learned more about the stories of the people behind the wine which made the time and effort they put into the bottle come to life for me.

It was also at this time that I slowly started moving away from the comfort of my sweet Rieslings to drier whites and then finally reds. How could I not? Watching Jancis enjoy and describe these wines made them too irresistible to not want to try at least!

My “crush on wine” was becoming full-blown love at this point and I started entertaining ideas of pursuing a career in wine.

In 2008, I left working retail management and dived head first into achieving my first certification with a Certified Specialist in Wine (CSW) from the Society of Wine Educators. That opened the door to working as a wine steward for a major grocery chain. Unfortunately, that chain didn’t have much commitment to training and furthering the wine knowledge of its stewards, but I didn’t despair. I had Jancis Robinson.

By this point my collection of her books had expanded to include Vines, Grapes & Wines: The Wine Drinker’s Guide to Grape Varieties and the 5th Edition of the World Atlas of Wine which caused me to audibly squeal with joy when I discovered the used copy I bought on Amazon came signed by both Robinson and co-author Hugh Johnson.

All the Single Grapes

I startled my wife when I opened the cover of the World Atlas of Wine and saw this.
She thought there might have been a spider!

I became an active contributor to Wikipedia’s Wine Project as User:Agne27 where I set about to substantially rewrite and expand many of Wikipedia’s wine articles–with my trusty Oxford Companion to Wine at my side. When Jancis Robinson, Julia Harding and José Vouillamoz released their magnum opus of ampelography and geekdom, Wine Grapes, that became another immensely valuable tool. Until the sexism and politics of Wikipedia drove me away, I was pretty darn committed to creating a Wikipedia entry for all 1,368 grapes that Robinson and Co. enlivened my world with.

In 1200+ articles I worked on for Wikipedia, I don’t think there was a single one that didn’t reference one of Robinson’s works. In my opinion, she was the benchmark standard for reliability when it came to wine. While I found other wine authors and references, if there was ever a conflict of sources, I always went back to Robinson as the most authoritative word on the matter.

For the most part, I toiled away in the obscurity of crowd-sourcing–not expecting any recognition. But I have to admit that my heart did flutter a bit when I read a 2015 post by Jancis Robinson on her Purple Pages about What future for expertise? where she noted that she often finds the Oxford Companion cited at the bottom of Wikipedia articles.

I know that reference wasn’t exactly meant to be a compliment.

But she noticed!

Though I always tried my best to rewrite and regurgitate into my own words what I learned, I do feel that my frequent citations of her work are a testament to the unpayable debt I have to her. I wanted people who visited Wikipedia to see the Oxford Companion to Wine, Wine Grapes and her other works cited.  I learned so much during those years and it all comes back to Jancis Robinson.

And I’m still learning from her.

All you have to do is look at the word cloud at the bottom of this blog’s front page to see how large the font is for the Jancis Robinson tag. She is still my benchmark standard and, frankly, my hero. To me, she’s bigger than Beyoncé.

A growing collection. Each one as marked up, highlighted and wine-stained as the next.

The 1500+ words in this post can never do justice in encapsulating all the many ways she has inspired and encouraged me in this journey. I can only dream of ever accomplishing a fraction of what she has done. But everything that I will end up achieving, anyone that I will ever inspire to fall in love with wine and thirst to learn more will be because of Jancis Robinson.

I’m working on the WSET diploma level and, someday, I hope to join Jancis in the ranks of 125+ female Masters of Wine. If I ever do get to that point and go to London to get my MW, you better believe that I will be packing my trusty 3rd Edition of the Oxford Companion of Wine.

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Wine Geek Notes 2/28/18 — Interesting Tweets & Burg Vintages

Photo by William Lawrence. Uploaded to Wikimedia Commons under CC-BY-SA-2.0

Here’s what I’ve been reading today in the world of wine.

Odds & Ends from Twitter

Some interesting weblinks from Twitter that are worth the read.

Smelling Terroir: A New Study Suggests People Can Smell the Difference Between Wines Solely Based on Terroir (but can we, really?) from the Academic Wino (@TheAcademicWino)
Very cool read about a 2016 study that showed that both experts and non-experts were able to smell the difference between wines grown in two different terroirs. Becca looks a little more in-depth at the study to question if it’s really the terroir differences they are smelling or something else.

new maps & saturday afternoon in the meursault sunshine from Bill Nanson (@billnanson) at the Burgundy Report with the tweet coming across my dash via @RealWineGuru
I’m a bit of a map geek (as evidence by my geek out over this Clos Vougeout map) so I absolutely squealed at the discovery of these incredibly detailed Beaujolais cru maps. Also some lovely pictures of Meursault that had me daydreaming about sipping on a Les Charmes.

So you want to be a wine judge by Master of Wine Sarah Jane Evans (@SJEvansMW) courtesy of @WSETglobal
As noted in yesterday’s Wine Geek Notes, I’ve been doing a lot of research on Wine Competitions and this article from Sarah Jane Evans added another perspective. One of the questions that I’ve been debating in my head is “Who benefits from Wine Competitions–the winery or the consumer?” which Evans answers rather bluntly “Remember that ultimately you are doing the judging for the winemaker and brandowner.”

Photo by Marianne Casamance. Released on Wikimedia Commons under  CC-BY-SA-4.0

Plant more Chenin!!!! The author screams into the void.


Wine of the Week: Lang & Reed, 2016 Napa Valley Chenin Blanc from Peg Melnik (@pegmelnik) at The Press Democrat with the tweet coming across my dash via @jncorcoran1
The subheader is what hooked me: “What happened to chenin blanc in California?” I have a soft spot for Chenin and have bemoaned the lack of interest of it in Washington State so I was similarly disheartened to read the staggering stat of how 3000 acres of Chenin blanc in Napa in 1980 has shrank down to just 14 acres today.

Burg’in Around

For my 60 Second Review of the 2013 Domaine Coquard Loison Fleurot Chambolle-Musigny I did some background research on the estate and 2013 vintage that had me stumbling across a few nifty links.

Pearl of Burgundy YouTube Channel
Features well produced short 2-4 minute videos from several Burgundian producers. While the Domaine Coquard Loison Fleurot vid is what initially caught me, I also enjoyed the videos from Domaine Henri Gouges, Domaine Lamarche and Domaine Grivot. By this point I was hitting the subscribe button for the channel.

2013 burgundy – the fairy-tale vintage? from Master of Wine Jancis Robinson (@JancisRobinson)
Always some of my favorite vintage write-ups. Great summary at the bottom of the article about the big issues facing 2013 but I also like how she explores the potential similarities (and differences) between 2013 and 1996 that also segue into comparing 2012 to 1998/1988.

The 2013 Red Burgundies: Fascinating and Challenging (Paywall) by Stephen Tanzer (@StephenTanzer1) on Vinous.
Tanzer takes a slightly more pessimistic outlook on 2013 and goes into more details about the challenges that the Côte de Beaune, in particular, had.

A Vintage Viewpoint…(2013, 2012, 2011…) from Bill Nanson at the Burgundy Report.
A nice little one page summary of the 2013 vintage in comparison to the 2012 and 2011 vintages.

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60 Second Wine Review — Domaine Coquard Loison Fleurot Chambolle-Musigny

A few quick thoughts on the 2013 Domaine Coquard-Loison-Fleurot Chambolle-Musigny.

The Geekery

Domaine Coquard-Loison-Fleurot (CLF) is a 5th generation family estate currently ran by cousins Claire Fleurot and Thomas Colladot. For years, the fruit from their enviable holdings in the Grand Crus of Grands Echezeaux (0.18 ha), Echezeaux (1.29 ha), Clos de Vougeot (0.64 ha), Clos de la Roche (1.17 ha), Clos St. Denis (0.17 ha) and Charmes-Chambertain (0.32 ha) went to négociants. But since 2010, when Thomas took over winemaking, they have been domaine bottling over 90% of their production.

Recently, Neal Martin of the The Wine Advocate has described CLF as “…your new favorite domaine” that has flown under the radar for many years but likely won’t for long.

The Chambolle-Musigny comes from 0.8 ha of vines located just below the premier crus. In The Wines of Burgundy, Clive Coates notes the high quality of village-level wines in Chambolle-Musigny is partly attributed to their being so little of it. The high portion of limestone and low fertility means that Chambolle-Musigny always produces far less wine than neighboring communes like Morey-St-Denis and Vosne-Romanée.

The Combe de Chamboeuf between the Grand Crus of Bonnes Mares and Musigny often deliver hailstorms. In many vintages, this further reduces yields. But while 2013 saw hail devastate the Côte de Beaune, Chambolle-Musigny was relatively untouched that vintage.

The Wine

Medium-plus intensity nose. Very floral but it also has an exotic black olive and Asian spice note that is very intriguing.

Photo by Rodrigo.Argenton. Released on Wikimedia Commons under CC-BY-SA-4.0

The black plums are well balanced by the fresh acidity in this wine.

On the palate, dark fruits emerge like black plum and black cherry. The medium-plus acidity balances the fruit well. The medium tannins have a soft, silkiness to them. Lovely and long finish.

The Verdict

At around $75-85, this is a screaming bargain compared to the village level 2013 Chambolle-Musigny wines from estates like Comte de Vogue (ave $164), Mugnier (ave $142) and Roumier (ave $178).

While Coquard-Loison-Fleurot hasn’t achieved the level of acclaim as those estates, it may be worth taking Neal Martin’s advice and discovering this domain before everyone else catches on.

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Keeping up with the Joneses in Burgundy — Boillot edition

Photo by Geoffrey Fairchild, released on Wikimedia Commons via Flickr under pd-author
An oft repeated truism in the world of Burgundy is that you should buy based on the producer rather than the vineyard or classification. But this solid piece of advice becomes difficult to follow when you run into multiple bottles made by producers with similar names.

In many cases, these estates are related by blood or marriage which creates a tangled web for a Burgundy lover to untangle.

As part of my own studies, I’m going to try to untangle some of these webs–one common surname at a time. I would greatly appreciate any suggestions for additions or corrections in the comments.

My tools on this journey, besides the internet, will be:

Remington Norman and Charles Taylor’s The Great Domaines of Burgundy
Clive Coates’ The Wines of Burgundy
Matt Kramer’s Making Sense of Burgundy
Bill Nanson’s The Finest Wines of Burgundy

We will start off with the Boillot family.

The Boillot family’s history of winemaking in Burgundy dates back to 1855 with the fifth generation of Boillots now running their eponymous estates. At several of these estates (like Domaine Jean-Marc Boillot and Domaine Henri Boillot) the sixth generation is working in the family business and preparing to take over.

In 1955, a conflict between Lucien Boillot and his father Henri lead to Lucien leaving his father’s estate, Domaine Henri Boillot, and starting his own winery. Henri’s other son, Jean, eventually took over Domaine Henri Boillot and renamed it Domaine Jean Boillot. Jean also married Colette Sauzet, daughter of the fame Puligny-Montrachet producer Etienne Sauzet.


Lucien had two sons, Louis and Pierre, with Louis starting his own estate in 2002 and Pierre inheriting control of Domaine Lucien Boillot et Fils.

Jean also had two sons, Jean-Marc and Henri, as well as a daughter, Jeanine, who married Gérard Boudot and now manages Domaine Sauzet. Jean-Marc started his own eponymous winery in 1989 while Henri started a négociant firm (Maison Henri Boillot) before eventually assuming what was left of Domaine Jean Boillot. To avoid confusion with his brother’s estate, he merged the holdings into his own domaine and changed the name back to Domaine Henri Boillot.

The Current Boillot Estates

Domaine Louis Boillot (Chambolle-Musigny)

Founded in 2002 when the estate of Lucien Boillot et Fils was split between Louis and his brother, Pierre. Louis is married to Ghislaine Barthod who runs her namesake estate in Chambolle-Musigny.
Prime holdings: Gevrey-Chambertain 1er Cru Champonnet (0.19 ha) and Volnay 1er Cru Les Caillerets (0.18 ha)

Domaine Lucien Boillot et Fils (Gevrey Chambertain)

Currently ran by Pierre.
Prime holdings: Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru Les Perrières (0.23 ha) and Volnay 1er Cru Les Caillerets (0.18 ha)

Domaine Jean-Marc Boillot (Pommard)

Founded in 1989. Prior to starting his own estate, Jean-Marc worked as a winemaker for Olivier Leflaive.
Prime holdings: Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru Les Champ Ganet (0.13 ha) and Les Combettes (0.47 ha)

Domaine Henri Boillot (Volnay)

Founded as a négociant firm in 1984. In 2005, Henri bought out his siblings shares of his father’s estate (Domaine Jean Boillot). He then merged the holdings into his own domaine.
Prime holdings: Clos de Vougeot Grand Cru (0.34 ha), Volnay 1er Cru Les Fermiets (2.4 ha) and monopole of Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru Clos de la Mouchère (3.99 ha) within Les Perrières

Additional Keeping up with the Joneses in Burgundy

The Morey Family
The Gros Family
The Coche Family
The Leflaive Family

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