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Boulder Burgundy Festival 2015 Official Schedule

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Boulder Burgundy Festival 2015
Official Schedule

Champagne and Caviar Kickoff Party

Thursday, October 22
Featuring live music.
CU Koenig Alumni Building
5:00 pm – 7:30 pm
$75 per ticket

Best Value Burgundy Wines Lunch

Friday, October 23
Oak Restaurant
11:30 am
$95 per person all-inclusive (90 seats available)

Old and Rare Burgundy Seminar

with Master Sommeliers Jay Fletcher,
Brett Zimmerman, and Sean Razee

Friday, October 23
Featuring a selection of wines from the 70s, 80s and 90s.
Proceeds go to the Guild of Sommeliers.
St. Julien Hotel
1:00 pm – 2:30 pm
$295 per person (42 seats available)

Domaine Dujac Dinner

Friday, October 23
Food and wine service by Aspen’s Little Nell team
Featuring a vertical tasting of wines from the domaine
preceded by a Champagne reception
and a selection of rare white Burgundy.
The Academy
6:00 pm
$395 per person all-inclusive (50 seats available)

Paulée Inspired Lunch

Saturday, October 24
With a team of the country’s top sommeliers
Featuring more than 50 wines from Burgundy.
Proceeds go to Davis Phinney Foundation.
Flagstaff House
11:00 am – 3:00 pm
$195 per person all-inclusive (120 seats available)

Domaine Bonneau de Martray Dinner

Saturday, October 24
with winemaker Jean-Charles le Bault de la Morinière
Featuring a vertical tasting of wines from the domaine.
Proceeds go to the Learning Center.
Frasca Food and Wine
6:00 pm
$435 per person all-inclusive (78 seats available)

Sit-Down Chablis Brunch

Sunday, October 25
with the wines of Kermit Lynch
and special guest Lyle Railsback
PMG Restaurant
10:00 am
$75 per person all-inclusive (50 seats available)

Seminar: “A tour of Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru”

Sunday, October 25
with Jean-Charles le Bault de la Morinière (Bonneau du Martray)
and wine writer Ray Isle (Food and Wine Magazine)
Featuring a vertical tasting from the domaine.
St. Julien Hotel
11:00 am – 12:30 pm
$150 per person (80 tickets available)

Grand Tasting

Sunday October 25
Featuring more than 200 wines from Burgundy.
Proceeds go to Groove Foundation.
St. Julien Hotel
3:00 pm – 6:00 pm
$85 per person (200 tickets available)

burgundy collectors colorado

Bonneau du Martray to be featured wine of 2015 festival!

bonneau du martray

Above: The Corton hill of Corton-Charlemagne. According to Wasserman (see below), “Bonneau du Martray is with Domaine de la Romanée-Conti the only domaine in Burgundy to make only grand cru. It owns 11 contiguous hectares, a rarity in Burgundy, 1.5 of which are planted to Pinot Noir and 9.5 to Chardonnay, making Bonneau du Martray the largest single owner of Corton-Charlemagne.”

It is with extreme pleasure and pride that we share this news: Bonneau du Martray is to be the featured domaine at this year’s Boulder Burgundy Festival.

And festival guests will be joined by the domaine’s legacy winemaker Jean-Charles le Bault de la Morinière, one of the most charismatic and dynamic personages working in fine wine today. He will be pouring and speaking about his wines.

Not only will be the featured producer dinner on the Saturday night of the festival but he will also deliver a seminar on his wines on Sunday morning.

“Adding to the aura,” writes his importer and U.S. merchant Jean-Charles, “his manners and conversation are beyond good, they have that breed of ease and confidence particular to Parisian aristocrats. It would feel somewhat imposing if it weren’t for the fact that as soon as you begin talking to him, it becomes apparent that Jean Charles is eager to hear what you have to say. He often takes a pause, considering carefully what you have said, before he responds to it, discards it, or files it away. And there is something impish about him too. His eyes often look amused, as if he was always preparing to add something witty or hold it back from you. It is not just the wines that are wonderful at Bonneau du Martray but the exchange of thoughts.”

Please see Paul’s super profile of the domaine and of Jean-Charles here.

We couldn’t be more thrilled that he and his wines will be part of the festival!

Festival registration is expected to be open on September 1. Please stay tuned for updates!

Dispelling the “Burgundy is a minefield” myth

olivier bernstein burgundy

Above: William Davis (right) of Wilson Daniels pours the much-sought-after wines of Olivier Bernstein at the Boulder Burgundy Festival 2014 Grand Tasting. More than 170 wines were poured at the event.

In 2013, Food & Wine executive wine editor Ray Isle, one of our favorite wine writers, asked “emperor of wine” and Wine Advocate founder Robert Parker, Jr. to revisit and reflect on some of his more famous (infamous?) pronouncements on wine over the arc of his career.

(Click here for Ray’s interview with Parker. It’s a fantastic read.)

One of the most controversial and frequently cited of these was Parker’s 2003 declaration that “Burgundy is, well, Burgundy. A minefield of potential disappointments beloved by elitists and pseudo-intellectuals who like to discuss ad nauseam growers and terroirs — not quality.”

Parker made a similar sweeping assertion in 2008 when he wrote in Bloomberg Business that “red Burgundy is the ultimate minefield of the wine world—notoriously unreliable, often disappointing, and rarely living up to its illustrious reputation.”

In direct response to Parker, New York Times wine critic Eric Asimov wrote, “in fact, the quality of Burgundy — red Burgundy in particular — has risen strikingly over the last two decades. From the smallest growers to the biggest houses, the standards of grape-growing and winemaking have surpassed anybody’s expectations. These days, Burgundy has very few bad vintages, and among good producers, surprisingly few bad wines.”

Today, seven years since the last back-and-forth between these princes of wine writing, the “minefield” myth has become so pervasive that you often see it quoted erroneously and out of context by mainstream wine writers, bloggers, and wine merchants as well as consumers.

In Ray’s 2013 interview with Parker, the über critic backpedalled only slightly.

“Thanks to a more meticulous younger generation,” he told Ray, “red Burgundies have made improvements, but they, too, are still a minefield, and top vineyard sites are still significantly overpriced.”

One of the driving factors behind the Boulder Burgundy Festival is to give attendees a sense of how much great Burgundy is available to them today.

At last year’s Grand Tasting, more than 170 wines were poured, all of them available in the U.S. and not a clunker among them.

The festival is now in its fifth year and it continues to grow. There’s no doubt that it takes encyclopedic knowledge to master Burgundy with confidence. After all, its mind-boggling parcelization is part of its allure (see this snippet from Parker’s buying guide).

But we are confident that the spectrum of wines poured is evidence of the new generation of Burgundy growers that Asimov and Parker both speak of.

We hope that you will come and taste for yourselves!

Save the date: October 22-25 Boulder Burgundy Festival 2015

guillaume angerville burgundy volnay

Now in its fifth year, the 2015 Boulder Burgundy Festival — October 22-25 — is going to be bigger and better than ever.

Festival founder and Master Sommelier Brett Zimmerman is currently in the process of lining up panelists that will include leading U.S. sommeliers, wine writers, and Burgundy experts as well as a stellar group of Burgundy growers and winemakers who will be on hand to taste and talk about their wines.

In coming weeks, we will begin previewing the featured speakers and wineries as well as the venues that will be hosting the tastings, seminars, luncheons, and dinners.

In the meantime, for a taste of what to expect, have a look at scenes from last year’s events, like the “Paulée-Inspired Lunch” and the “Old and Rare Tasting.”

Please note that both of these events sold out just days after tickets became available. So please mark your calendars and please stay tuned.

Festival registration won’t be open until next month. But we will be posting regular updates in coming weeks…

Why food & wine make all the difference: a chat with George Berg of Berg, Hill, Greenleaf & Ruscitti

george berg lawyer houston boulder

Above: George Berg (seated, far left) takes a photo of a bottle being poured by Master Sommelier Bobby Stuckey at the Boulder Burgundy Festival’s “Paulée-Inspired Lunch” at Flagstaff House.

I met a lot of fantastic people at the Boulder Burgundy Festival this year: winemakers, wine tradespeople, collectors, and bon vivants.

But one of the most fun conversations I had was with George Berg (above, left), whose law firm Berg, Hill, Greenleaf & Ruscitti, underwrites the festival each year.

When I asked George, whose generous conviviality is rivaled only by his Texas charm, why he and his firm sponsor the gathering, his answer was a simple as it was brilliant.

“I’ve always found that sharing food and wine is a great way to do business,” he said. “Sitting down and drinking a bottle of wine together is a very attractive way to get to know someone.”

“People like Brett [Zimmerman, festival founder and owner of the Boulder Wine Merchant] and Bobby [Stuckey, wine director and owner of Frasca Food & Wine] have helped me in my business,” he explained, “and so this is a way for me to give back to them.”

It doesn’t hurt that George’s office sits directly above Frasca, where he often entertains for both business and pleasure.

George got into food and wine in his early years raising a family and working as a lawyer in Houston, where he had become good friends with the city’s leading restaurateur Tony Vallone (who happens to be my very good friend and client).

“Tony taught me everything I know about food and wine,” he revealed. “He showed me how you could use restaurants as a way to meet people.”

Over the years, he told me, George and his office have helped Brett and Bobby set up their businesses and given them a hand with other legal affairs. And over the years, he’s dined countless times in Bobby’s restaurants and shopped at Brett’s store.

In talking to George, I got the sense that for him, the Boulder food and wine scene is a vibrant enogastronomic community that he’s thrilled to be a part of. And I could tell how much he genuinely admires the city’s food and wine professionals.

It’s only natural, I thought to myself, that he’d want to give back to this close-knit group of like-minded sommeliers by helping to make the festival possible.

I loved watching George interact and banter with the sommeliers, tasting and comparing notes, snapping photos of the labels with his phone when a given wine really impressed him.

And it occurred to me: Food and wine had brought us together and that led to the discovery that we had a mutual dear friend in common back in Texas.

It’s a small world after all and that’s why food and wine make all the difference.

Robert Bohr on being a sommelier: “It’s all about the elevating the guests’ experience.”

robert bohr grant reynolds

Above: Restaurateurs and leading sommeliers Grant Reynolds (left) and Robert Bohr at this year’s festival.

Earlier this year, leading wine writer Elin McCoy called Robert Bohr one of “New York’s sommelier old guard.”

His list at Charlie Bird, which he co-authors with another one of the city’s celebrity sommeliers, Grant Reynolds, is “a window into the New York wine zeitgeist,” she wrote.

I caught up with Robert at the festival last month and we chatted about what it means to be a sommelier today and why he comes to the festival every year to participate and pour.

He’s one of the highest-profile wine professionals working in the U.S. today but when it comes to be a sommelier, it’s all about “elevating the guests’ experience.”

“Being a sommelier is learning how to respect an artisanal process,” he said. “It’s a craft that you’re always working to perfect. Just like an athlete, you need to taste over and over again, honing your skills because tasting wine is like a muscle.”

But the most important element is service, he told me.

“Interacting with guests and elevating their experience,” he explained, “that’s what being a sommelier means. It’s the foundation of being a sommelier. Yes, you can learn how to saber a bottle of Champagne and taste and taste. But if you’re first motivation isn’t to elevate your guests’ experience, you’re not doing your job.”

When I asked him about why so many celebrities seem to flock to his restaurants, he grinned.

“Celebrities like to be treated like regular people and regular people like to be treated like celebrities,” he said.

“You have to be committed to your craft. I think that a lot of celebrities see that I’m as committed to mine as they are to theirs and they respond to that.”

Why does he volunteer each year for the Boulder Burgundy Festival?

“Boulder is a beautiful place and the people involved with the festival are some of the people I look up to the most. We don’t get to work together enough. This is this perfect oasis for the work that we do and we’re lucky to get to drink these wines so often and have the opportunity to talk about Burgundy.”

Volnay seminar with Guillaume d’Angerville, a truly extraordinary tasting

robert bohr wine importer

Above: The panel, from left, Robert Bohr (who imports Domaine D’Angerville into the U.S.), Guillaume d’Angerville, Rajat Parr, Richard Betts, and Brett Zimmerman, owner of the Boulder Wine Merchant and festival organizer.

The D’Angerville seminar on the Sunday of the festival weekend was a truly extraordinary experience — on many levels.

The title was “D’Angerville” but the focus was on the village of Volnay and its terroirs.

The wines were spectacular but the star was Guillaume d’Angerville, who speaks English impeccably and has a charming, engaging, and warm old-world gentleman’s air about him. An excellent speaker, he offered remarkable insights into what makes his village’s wines unique in the panorama of Burgundian winemaking.

The panel was made up of some of the brightest and most talented people working in the world of wine today. But the erudite discussion of Guillaume’s wines was accessible and easy to follow.

Simply put, this was wine tasting and wine connoisseurship at its best, delivered expertly and eloquently, without affectation.

domaine angerville robert bohr

The flight was as follows:

D’Angerville 2011 Volnay des Angles 1er
D’Angerville 2011 Volnay Fermiets 1er
D’Angerville 2011 Volnay Caillerets 1er
D’Angerville 2011 Volnay Champans 1er
D’Angerville 2011 Volnay Taillepieds 1er
D’Angerville 2011 Volnay Clos des Ducs 1er

Notes (quotes) from Guillaume’s wonderful talk follow. The event was one of the more pricey ones but everyone in attendance agreed — from the caliber of the wines and the opportunity to taste them side-by-side to the chance to interact with such an elite group of wine professionals — it was worth every penny.

“Our domain is focused on the village of Volnay. It was purchased after the revolution and has been in our family for 200 years.”

“Compared to Pommard, Volnay is like yin and yang. Volnay cannot produce masculine wines like Pommard. It makes wines that are subtle, clean, precise, and feminine.”

“My first aim is to promote the village [of Volnay] and then promote my wines.”

“The most important decision for a winemaker is when to pick.”

“You have to let the terroir speak. If that happens, I’m a very happy man.”

“My father taught me to ‘get rid of anything that is not necessary’ in the wines. Like me, he wanted to create ‘precise’ wines.”

The Chablis Brunch, one of the more “chill” events at the festival

raveneau burgundy kermit lynch

Above: Raveneau for breakfast, anyone? Yes, it was poured at the Chablis Brunch on Sunday morning of the festival at The Kitchen Upstairs (The Kitchen’s “lounge” spot). Note the flight of wines poured below.

Let’s be honest: In the wake of the festival’s Saturday night, everyone was a little bit — how can we put it? — “toasty” on Sunday morning.

But that didn’t stop people from waking in time for the Chablis Brunch, definitely the festival’s most casual event but no less impressive in the breadth and caliber of wines that were poured.

eggs benedict best recipe

Above: The eggless mini “Benedicts” were ideal for the Sunday morning crowd.

Here is the flight of wines that were poured for guests:

1996 Domaine Raveneau Montmains 1er
2004 Domaine Raveneau Butteaux 1er
2010 Domaine Dauvissat Sechet 1er
2000 Domaine Dauvissat Sechet 1er
2011 Domaine Dauvissat Fôrest 1er
2012 Louis Michel Vaudisir Grand Cru
2012 Louis Michel Montée de Tonnerre Premier Cru
2012 Agnes & Didier Dauvissat, Petit Chablis
2012 Agnes & Didier Dauvissat, Chablis
2012 Agnes & Didier Dauvissat, Chablis Beauroy
2012 Albert Bichot Chablis
2012 Albert Bichot Chablis Vaillons 1er
2012 Albert Bichot Chablis Vaucopins 1er
2011 Albert Bichot Chablis La Moutonne Grand Cru
2012 Albert Bichot Chablis La Clos Grand Cru
2002 Brocard St. Claire Old Vines
2011 Brocard Montée de Tonnerre 1er
2007 Brocard Le Clos Grand Cru (Magnum)
2011 Romain Collet Mont de Milieu 1er
2012 Tremblay Fourchaume Premier Cru Vieilles Vignes
2012 Domaine Dampt Cote de Lechets 1er
2011 Domaine Pattes Loup, Chablis
2011 Grossot Forneaux
2011 Grossot Fourchaume
2012 Val de Mer Chablis Les Clos Grand Cru

Holy cow, right?

tim wanner kitchen boulder

Above: Wade Vizena, left, manager at The Kitchen, and Tim Wanner, The Kitchen restaurant group’s executive general manager.

For one blogger in attendance, it was a great time to reconnect and chat with Tim Wanner (above, right), The Kitchen restaurant group’s executive general manager and his fellow Italophile wine lover.

From the management to the bussers, everyone who works at The Kitchen seems to be wholly in tune with the importance of wholesome food and cooking and the role that it plays in human experience (more on that later).

It’s always interesting to get to interact with people like Tim and Wade (above, left). Their intelligent approach to restaurateurship is as sensorially thrilling as it is intellectually satisfying.

The Kitchen “kitchen” staff did a superb job in their spread of “Sunday morning” (insert your own euphemism) fare, including a great selection of scones and savory bites inspired by classic American breakfast foods like the eggless mini Benedict above.

Raveneau and comfort food for Sunday morning? Not bad at all for the $50 admission.

best brunch wine

Scenes from the Grand Tasting 2014

olivier bernstein burgundy

Above: William Davis (right) of Wilson Daniels pours the much-sought-after wines of Olivier Bernstein at the Boulder Burgundy Festival 2014 Grand Tasting. William, alone, showed eleven wines, including labels that sell for upward of $450 per bottle.

It’s hard to explain the uniqueness of the Boulder Burgundy Festival Grand Tasting.

Yes, the bean counting is easy. There were twenty purveyors of fine wines who presented their wines. And by the official count, there were roughly 170 wines poured, although many distributors brought extra wines that were not listed in the official tasting book.

rajat parr burgundy wine

Above: Leading U.S. sommelier and author Rajat Parr (right) and his sales manager
Natalie Vaclavik poured Rajat’s Burgundy négociant project Maison L’Orée.

The data alone would be impressive for this tasting, which was held in the historic Boulderado Hotel’s event center.

But the thing that takes the numbers over the top is the fact that the importers and distributors who participated weren’t simply showing “entry-tier” wines. In fact, you would be hard pressed (excuse the pun) to find more than a handful of wines at this tasting that retail for less than $80-90.

maison oree rajat parr raj

Above: At most tastings of this scale, you’d find dump buckets brimming over. Not so at the Boulder Burgundy Festival 2014 Grand Tasting where spitting would be considered in bad taste.

By one blogger’s guestimation (based on the prices listed in the officially tasting book), the average bottle price fell somewhere between $100-130. And some of the bottles sell for upward of $400 — that is, if you can find them.

But the thing that really takes the Grand Tasting over the top is the fact that the guests truly appreciate the wines and the people who were pouring them.

mike joyce natural wine company

Above: Mike Joyce (left), sales manager at Natural Wine Company, a leading Colorado distributor and an underwriter of the event, with Wade Vizena, manager at The Kitchen, one of the Boulder restaurants that hosted festival events.

Ask anyone in the wine trade and they will tell you about inconsiderate and even unruly guests at tastings like this. Especially as an event like this wears on, people can lose sight of the fact that they are tasting wines that command their attention and respect (we’ll just leave it at that).

Perhaps the most impressive thing about this truly remarkable event was how polite everyone was and how easy it was to make your way from one table to the next.

And of course, the tradespeople who were pouring were among the best and brightest in the industry. These folks know their stuff.

francesca deorio calluna events

Above: Heather Dwight (right), founder and owner of Calluna Events in Boulder, with her colleague Francesca DeOrio. Calluna was the tasting’s official organizer and did a superb job of making everything run seamlessly.

Considering the price of admission was only $85, noted a wine blogger who attended, the event was a steal.