The excitement continues to bubble in the Overstreet’s wine adventures. In May, we took a trip to the Burgundy region of France where we purchased a small plot of a vineyard in a village by the name of Villars Fontaine (not far from the famous Romanee Conti vineyards).
The Chateau de Villars Fontaine, the winery of the same name, and the adjacent vineyards are owned by Monsieur Bernard Hudelot who planted them in the 1970’s and is now selling the land in shares. Our “plot” of land is 214 square meters or about two times as big as the house where we’re currently living. As I write this, approximately 2/3 of the total available shares are sold. Besides the fun of “owning” a small plot of a vineyard and “investing” in a small part of the winery operations in one of the world’s great wine regions, we can also purchase high quality vintages at affordable prices. I probably don’t need to tell you that having a few hundred bottles of fine, Burgundian wine in our personal wine stash is a very lovely situation.
Villars Fontaine produces Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, the varietals this region is famous for, using traditional methods to create superior wines intended to be aged for long periods. Monsieur Hudelot also recently resurrected Gamay in an attempt to change it’s stereotype from a mediocre wine to one that can also be a great, long-aging wine. To me, Monsieur Hudelot does amazing work with his wines that sets them apart – first, he ages them for a very long time (whites 18 months, reds 30 months) and second, because of the barrels he uses, the wines come out not overly oaky but complex, smooth and balanced. This is due, in part, because Monsieur Hudelot contracts a single barrel maker who, over a three year period, slowly and naturally air dries the French oak staves used in the barrel production. This process eliminates the rough tannic properties of the oak. The long aging process in contact with the naturally dried wood enhances the structure and helps to produce the brilliant result so elegantly emanated in the wine. The whites can easily sit in the cellar and improve for 10+ years and the reds for 30+ years.
In May, we brought home the 2005 vintage. The Chardonnay is already delightful but can, amazingly to us, age some more (if we can keep it around long enough). The Pinot Noir is showing great potential as it gives us a hint of what is to come. We found ourselves back in France in June, so we visited the winery again and purchased about 100 bottles of the 2002 vintage of both varietals. The whites are stunning – smooth, subtly complex, perfectly balanced! The reds – still not at their intended drinking age, appear to be slowly working their way to excellence.
So, we have officially started a cellar and look forward to tasting the progress of the wines we purchase as they show their complexity and style in a new way each time we treat ourselves to a glass. It is sort of like they are starting out in a comfortable, cotton dress and working their way up to the perfect, little, black dress.
If you’re interested in owning a little slice of Burgundy for yourself, the “ownership” involves the purchase of a plot of a vineyard and advanced purchase of about 100 bottles of each current year’s vintage, to be picked up two to four years later when properly aged, bottled, and released. Please feel free to contact me for more information.
Written with assistance from Stevie Bobes, Chateau de Villars Fontaine