Bouchard Père & Fils is one of Burgundy’s great wine companies. In 1731, Michel Bouchard moved his cloth business from Dauphine in the French Alps to the Burgundy wine village Volnay. Twenty years later, his son, Joseph Bouchard, began his cloth and wine business in Beaune, the center of the Burgundy wine region.
During the next four decades, Joseph Bouchard acquired a number of vineyards, including choice plots when the new government established after the French Revolution in 1789 confiscated and auctioned lands owned by the Catholic church and France’s nobility. One of parcels was the entire 10 acres of the Premier Cru Beaune Grèves Vigne de L’Enfant Jésus; two centuries later, it remains one of Bouchard’s best vineyards.
In 1995, after nine generations of Bouchard ownership, the vineyards and winery were sold to Joseph Henriot, owner of the prestigious, family-owned Henriot Champagne. Christophe Bouchard, who was the vineyard manager and winemaker prior to the Henriot purchase, has remained to oversee all the wine operations. And Henriot has spared no expense in upgrading the winemaking facilities and vineyards.
The 2005 Beaune Grèves Vigne de L’Enfant Jésus illustrates the higher quality of Bouchard wines under Henriot’s ownership. It has a beautiful black cherry sheen with a billowing bouquet of ripe blackberries and new oak. Its rich fruit spreads mulberry, blackberry and tarragon-like flavors across the palate, with integrated tannins giving the wine depth and length. It has the texture of a New World pinot noir and the elegance that Burgundy connoisseurs seek.
The 2005 vintage in Burgundy was superb for both red and white wines. Burgundy is always expensive, as the area is minuscule and the demand is worldwide. When a vintage with the quality of 2005 appears and the dollar is sagging, the prices can be eye-popping. Nonetheless, wine collectors bought almost all the most sought-after wines the moment they arrived. It was much to my surprise that I discovered a few cases of the 2005 Bouchard Beaune Grèves Vigne de L’Enfant Jésus were still available.
With a half-hour or more of aeration, you can enjoy this wine today, but its great pleasures will reward those who cellar it for at least another five years. And with ideal cellar conditions, this wine can please for 20 years or more.
The 2005 Bouchard Premier Cru Beaune Grèves Vigne de L’Enfant Jésus retails for approximately $100.