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The beat goes on …

Chardonnay, the world’s most renowned white grape (Photograph supplied)

I would guess it was about seven years ago that The Royal Gazette approached me with the idea of turning Burrows Lightbourn Ltd's twice monthly advertisement into a weekly “infomercial” that would discuss wine matters of interest.

I suggested that we try it for a year and expressed the thought that I might run out of ideas after that.

As I sat down to compose this morning, I decided to go into some detail about special wines that we liked as the year was nearing its end, even though some stocks are extremely limited.

For instance, on New Year’s Eve the wife and I very much enjoyed baked halibut (I tried to get Bermuda rockfish) along with a selection of local vegetables. We decided that it would be appropriate to open two bottles of chardonnay side by side and compare, one being 2018 Sbragia Family Vineyards Home Ranch Vineyard Sonoma Chardonnay and the other 2017 Remoissenet Chassagne Montrachet Premier Cru Les Champs Gain. As I swirled and contemplated the multilayered French chardonnay, I commented that it was like listening to Mozart with the dinner; and of the wine that our friend Ed Sbragia orchestrated, I told my wife that the music of Tom Petty might not be powerful enough, but Bruce Springsteen might be a little over the top for the way the wine made me feel.

Before we go any further, I should mention that there are only a few bottles of the Sbragia left (four in our East Broadway store and five in our Harbour Road, Paget shop). It costs $35 and the stock number is 6337. Discovery Wines on Bakery Lane has ten bottles of the Remoissenet left and the stock number is 7515 and the price, $99.15.

So how can we compare a bottle with one costing about three times as much? In fact, how can we compare Mozart with Springsteen? They both are great in my mind and they both have a time and place. Just as the ripe green apples, apricots, pineapple, grapefruit, lemon oil and a kiss of vanilla, oak and cloves from California can be compared with the aromas of mayflower, honeysuckle, pear, minerality and classic French oak of the Chassagne. Would you prefer to have three bottles of the Californian wine or one of the Burgundy? Would you like a continual diet of classical music or is a dose of good rock and roll worthy of the moment? We love both in our home.

If you make a move now you could repeat our wine evening exactly, but the following would also be enjoyable and informative. I have, sitting on my desk, a bottle of 2019 Beringer Private Reserve Napa Valley Chardonnay that I had intended to open before 2021 said goodbye. I am happy to see that the back of the bottle is signed by winemaker Mark Beringer, whose ancestors arrived from Germany in the late 1800s to create this iconic Napa Valley winery; very nice to have the name back again. Their private reserve programme is the only wine category anywhere to have the distinction of having a red and a white wine making it to the number one spot of the Wine Spectator's list of the top 100 wines in the world. This selection of the top red and white from Beringer was created by Ed Sbragia during his 25 years as head winemaker at Beringer.

As my bottle is unopened let me quote critic Jeb Dunnuck who gives it a 94-point score: “Shows a fresher, less oaky, toasty character than older vintages (which I think is what they’re looking for). Impressive stone fruits, white flowers, orange blossom, toasted almond, and a touch of minerality all define the bouquet, and this beauty builds nicely, offering full-bodied richness, a layered, opulent texture, terrific balance, and a great finish." The price is $62 and the stock number is 6277. In our shops you may still find the 2018, which Jeb also rated 94/100 and called a “brilliant effort”.

I suggest that you enjoy it alongside 2017 Joseph Drouhin Chassagne Montrachet that is priced at $74.90 and has the stock number 8192. Here is what Burgundy critic John Gilman wrote about it in December of 2018: “The 2017 Chassagne Montrachet was bottled in early October and was really showing well in November. The bouquet is precise, pure and really shares some aromatic signature notes with the Marquis de Laguiche Morgeot this year, as it offers up a lovely blend of pear, apple, complex, chalky soil tones, a touch of crème patissière, spring flowers and vanillin oak.

On the palate the wine is pure, full-bodied and really has excellent depth at the core, with lovely cut and grip and a long, vibrant and zesty finish. This is the pick of the litter this year among three very good villages bottlings from the Côte de Beaune. 91+.” The “+” indicates that it will improve with age and so I remind you that this was written three years ago.

My feeling is that this is no longer about events, such as the one that took place in Paris a year after I joined the wine trade. I refer to that fateful May 24, 1976 when Englishman Steven Spurrier arranged for a panel of the wine elite in France to blind taste a selection of the very finest reds and white that California (the new kids on the block) and Bordeaux and Burgundy could offer. Not only did a Napa Valley cabernet sauvignon place first, but number one white was a West Coast chardonnay. The wine world was stunned, not to mention the judges. And as for the “new kid” in the wine trade, who had recently spent a few months in California, I was elated. Today I can honestly say that I have no favourites, as so many producers in the New and Old World are giving such a wonderful choice of wine in all price ranges.

This column is an advertorial for Burrows Lightbourn Ltd. Contact Michael Robinson at mrobinson@bll.bm. Burrows Lightbourn have stores in Hamilton (Front Street East, 295-1554) and Paget (Harbour Road, 236-0355). Visit www.wineonline.bm

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Published January 07, 2022 at 7:58 am (Updated January 07, 2022 at 7:36 am)

The beat goes on …

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