Jackson Boxer: Christmas dinner unwrapped
4 minute readRead more
4 minute read
Natural habitats: Ohsomm heads to Burgundy
Until I started falling in love with wine in my early 20s, I never had any understanding or interest in where it came from. Like most urbanites, I had only a passing interest to discover from where the profusion of different bottles arrayed across the off license shelves of London originated, having to a great extent a total disconnect from all agricultural production. Indeed, it wasn’t until I became fascinated with what was in the bottle, that I could claim any insight into how it came to be.
The hard work and knowledge displayed by these dedicated individuals was so much more intense and beguiling than I had considered possible.
I think the greatest revelation was when I first started to attend tastings held by wine-makers themselves. I became fascinated with their knowledge, both instinctive and learned, which allowed them to cultivate these delicate grapes, and then fashion them into such an extraordinary and profound liquid. It has for a long time therefore been a great excitement to travel to meet these extraordinary vignerons in their natural habitat.
I recently had the great privilege of visiting one such winemaker in what is universally acknowledged to be one of the greatest stretches of wine country in the world, Burgundy. The producer of some of our most delicious wines, including my Chablis & Pinot Noir, Ropiteau Frères is one of the great houses of the Cote d’Or, based right at its heart in the small village of Meursault.
Nothing prepares you for how simple Burgundy is, a road running north south from Dijon to Lyon, alongside a gentle hill, on whose neatly trellised slopes some of the greatest fruit in the world is carried.
On meeting Nicolas Burnez, whose phone rang to the sounds of Steely Dan, a sign of excellent character and taste, one would get no sense of a man at the very pinnacle of his game. Indeed, as he toured us round his enormous cellar full of maturing oak barrels, sucking and spitting at juice indifferent stages of cohesion, and explained with profound simplicity his love for each of the small parcels of land from which he sourced his fruit, I became overawed by how much knowledge, understanding, dedication, and hard work it takes to produce this incredible drink, from the careful pruning, management, picking and selecting in the vineyard, to the loving care with which its treated in the winery – gentle pressing, slow fermentation, long maturation.
One of the reasons I love wine so passionately is that it’s incredibly hard to make well, and requires insane levels of care and dedication to get right. When we drink a delicious wine even of simple provenance, we’re drinking the fruit of generations of inherited wisdom, coupled with an arduous devotion to hard work. There’s very little comparable, a product so widely and easily available, with such an extraordinary story behind every bottle. It’s worth opening a bottle right now to celebrate our good fortune!