Clive Coates, MW (Master of Wine), one of the world’s leading wine authorities and also known for his books about Burgundy wines, led a Burgundy tasting in Las Vegas hosted by Wirtz Beverage Nevada. Held inside Wirtz’s Alchemy Room, a cutting edge beverage education and development lab, the tasting featured a flight of red and white wines by Albert Bichot and Louis Jadot.
I was honored to be in the same room with this well-known British author and lecturer, who is so respected around the world. Coates published THE VINE, an award-winning independent fine wine magazine from 1984 to 2005. Read by oenophiles the world over, THE VINE received numerous awards, including a special commendation for its “considerable contribution to the knowledge and understanding of wine” from the Wine Guild of Great Britain. Coates, who holds a lifetime of distinguished activity in the field, has been recognized by the French government, which awarded him the Chevalier de l’Ordre du Mérite Agricole. He has also been honored with a “Rame d’Honneur” by Le Verre et L’Assiette, the Ruffino/Cyril Ray Memorial Prize for his writings on Italian wine, and the title of “Wine Writer of the Year” for 1998/1999 in the Champagne Lanson awards.
In Burgundy’s 138-mile span from Chablis to the southern limit of Beaujolais, the climate and soils vary greatly. But, what all the subregions have in common is fidelity to the two main grapes of the Burgundy region -Chardonnay and Pinot Noir- and hands-on approach in the vineyard and cellar.
John Smith, a fine and rare wine expert at Wirtz Beverage is also a long-standing member of The Chevaliers du Tastevin, the most exclusive wine society in the world. He spent a lot of time in Burgundy during the same time Coates would be visiting properties to write his reviews.
“I find that he [Coates] encapsulates the people and their life with great accuracy,” says Smith. “He has the singular ability to translate the passion of the vignerons over multiple generations. His writing has a gentle elegance that emphasizes the life and passion of a small, yet extremely diverse lifestyle. More importantly when he taste wines, he comments in such a way as to bring the wine to life.”
It is Smith’s hope that through this tasting, we learned that unlike many winemaking regions of the world, nowhere else has the passion for the terroir and the wines produced. Certainly, Coates, who resides in Burgundy, brought this famed region directly to us that day. He presented a magnificent combination of history, science, anecdotes and judgments, mixed in with the occasional phrase he likes to use: “a jolly good wine.” Lucky for us, he referred to some of these wines as such:
Louis Jadot Chablis 2012
Louis Jadot Santenay, Clos de Malte Blanc 2012
Louis Jadot Mersault 2012
Louis Jadot Chassage Montrachet, Morgeot Blanc 2012
Bourgogne Pinot Noir Secret de Famille 2012
Albert Bichot Savigny-les-Beaune 2012
Albert Bichot Beaune Clos de l’Ermitage 2012
Pommard Clos de Ursulines, Domaine du Pavillon 2012
Gevry-Chambertin Les Murots, Domaine du Clos Frantin 2012