Alex Gambal Bonnes Mares 1999
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
Barrel Sample: 88-91
Barrel Sample: 88-90
THE MOVE: In 1991-1992, I began to explore the possibility of living abroad for a year or two while our children were young. We had become interested in wine and it had become our major avocation.
In May 1993, my family and I moved to Burgundy, France to take a year off to work with and help manage a small wine export company based in Beaune, France. Our goal was simply to take a year's sabbatical from Washington but we hoped that if we and the children were content we might stay longer. We moved to a small village of 150 people just outside Beaune, in the center of Burgundy, put the children in French schools, and four years later we looked back on a wonderful experience that changed our lives.
FIRST STEPS IN BURGUNDY: When we arrived in 1993 the wine business was in the dumps because of the world recession and a glut of fine wine. As we worked our way through the recession I was able to taste a variety of old, young and great wines with some of the greatest winemakers in the world. In addition, because we lived, worked and had our children in French schools, we were not perceived as tourists and were welcomed into the hidden Burgundy as parents and friends. And thus had a unique and wonderful experience.
Inhabiting the bottom end of the northern half of the Côte d’Or, Nuits-St-Georges is a busy, market-driven town and home to many of Burgundy’s negociants. It is also the largest town in the Côte d’Or after Beaune and contributes "nuits" to the name of Côte de Nuits (i.e., the northern half of the Côte d’Or).
The appellation itself is divided into two parts, where in the north it directly borders Vosne-Romanée, the southerly end is the commune of Prémeaux. There are no Grands Crus in this village, though it does have a large number of Premiers Crus.
The best Nuits-St-Georges Pinot Noir are layered with cherry, plum, underbrush and sandalwood. The fruit is sweet, the wine energetic, and the finish long and lush.
Thin-skinned, finicky and temperamental, Pinot Noir is also one of the most rewarding grapes to grow and remains a labor of love for some of the greatest vignerons in Burgundy. Fairly adaptable but highly reflective of the environment in which it is grown, Pinot Noir prefers a cool climate and requires low yields to achieve high quality. Outside of France, outstanding examples come from in Oregon, California and throughout specific locations in wine-producing world. Somm Secret—André Tchelistcheff, California’s most influential post-Prohibition winemaker decidedly stayed away from the grape, claiming “God made Cabernet. The Devil made Pinot Noir.”