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Double meaning

If I say the words Premier Cru you might know that they designate a wine of superior quality, or the vineyard from which it originates. As I wander around our home I may see a bottle of chablis or meursault or puligny montrachet that are all Premier Crus, but quite unique for us are the offshore racing trophies that bear the inscription Premier Cru.

I am just so excited about the goings on at this time in our little country that I must share a day in the Loire Valley of France many years ago. A lovely young lady sits on a boat at the Beneteau yacht factory and in a somewhat mutinous fashion, refuses to disembark until we agree to buy the darned thing, even though it was far larger than anything I had in mind. What a time that was, bringing two small boys up on the water and the many races we participated in.

Historically, the area that we know as Chablis has had a bit of a bumpy ride. In 1890 over 100,000 acres of chardonnay produced one of our world’s most popular wines but by the 1950s only a scant 1,235 acres remained, the result of the vine-killing disease known as phylloxera and a change in tastes.

Thankfully today there are more than 14,000 acres and much can be attributed to the efforts of the Drouhin family. All of their chablis, whether it be chablis, chablis Premier Cru or chablis Grand Cru, is produced using biodynamic farming ideas. This is a method of not destroying our land, as well as restoring it to its original “terroir” or sense of place and uniqueness.

There are 40 vineyards surrounding the quiet village of Chablis that are designated Premier Cru, but you will not see all of them on labels as some are “umbrella” names that actually encompass a few plots of land. For instance, the well-known Vaillons is actually a group of 13 Premier Cru properties.

Here is what Wine Enthusiast Magazine has to say about our Joseph Drouhin 2013 Domaine Vaudon Vaillons Premier Cru 2013 Chablis: “93/100. This is a balanced wine with touches of honey and toast, along with ripe yellow and white fruits that are cut by a salty structure. Great acidity runs through the wine, giving a tight, steely, very pure aftertaste. Drink from 2017.” This is just perfect with a fine fish dish as its citrus flavours and acidity demonstrate exactly why we squeeze a little lemon juice on such a meal. $42.95.

Muris saltus (mouse leap) was so named as it was said that a mouse could leap from a chardonnay to a pinot noir vine as they were planted so close together. Today the town, and the wines around it, are known as Meursault and it is one of my favourite white burgundies. Of the less than 250 acres that are designated Premier Cru I think it fair to say that Charmes is possibly the best known.

Veronique Boss-Drouhin has this to say about her 2013 Meursault Charmes Premier Cru 2013: “At first sight, the wine is a perfect illustration of its place name. It is worthy of the wonderful Meursault whose colour is golden without being yellow. The nose, concentrated and elegant, full without being heady, evokes aromas of almond, warm bread just taken out of the oven, hot croissant, then, fine spice and finally grilled dried fruit. The flavours are at the same refined level as the aromas. The body is round without being heavy; the acidity is well integrated and is never biting. The texture feels like silk without the alcohol ever being dominant. The wine develops on the palate and opens up fully until the very long aftertaste brings back some of the precious aromas felt in the bouquet: almond paste and hot brioche.” $89.65

When it comes to Puligny Montrachet there are 17 Premier Cru vineyards and I think it enough to just quote two well-known sources on our Joseph Drouhin Puligny Montrachet Folatieres Premier Cru 2013. Wine & Spirits: “95/100. When Drouhin wines hit, they can be awesome. This one buzzes with energy, saturated with the kind of succulent richness that is rare in 2013. The fruit has the pale white flavour of cherimoya, underscored by salty notes of chalky limestone soil. Packed with savoury nuance, this will benefit from several years in the cellar and should continue to gain for a decade.”

James Suckling: “94/100. A contrasty white with dried apple, pineapple and honey. Tangy acidity. Full body. Very long and exciting. Wonderful length here. From biodynamically grown grapes. Drink or hold.” The price of this superb chardonnay is $88.90.

This column is an advertorial for Burrows Lightbourn Ltd. E-mail mrobinson@bll.bm or 295-0176. Burrows Lightbourn has stores in Hamilton (Front Street East, 295-1554), Paget (Harbour Road, 236-0355) and St George’s (York Street, 297-0409). Visit www.wineonline.bm