This Beaune-based domaine is one of the largest and most venerable in Burgundy. It was founded in 1731 by Michel Bouchard as a textile sales and distribution company. But twenty years later Michel’s son Joseph acquired vineyards in Volnay in the famous Les Caillerets climat and started producing wine. Over the centuries the family continued to acquire exceptional vineyards throughout the Côte d’Or. For nine generations the Bouchard family ran the estate, creating notable wines, and ran their own negociant business. In 1986 the Bouchards built a new state-of-the-art facility and in 1995 they sold the estate to the French Champagne house Joseph Henriot. With more than 300 acres of vineyards in various parts of Burgundy, Bouchard Pere et Fils produces Grand Crus, Premiers Crus and other wines. It makes red and white Burgundies and is especially well-known for Grand Cru Chardonnays.
Beaune is the heart, soul and capital of Burgundy. A walled, medieval city of ancient buildings and cobble-stoned streets, Beaune is home to the annual Hospices de Beaune wine auction, a charity auction dating to the 15th century. Beaune has always been a natural crossroads, and it was a commercial center as far back as the Roman era. Today Beaune is home to many of Burgundy’s most famous negociants, including Drouhin, Jadot, Latour and Bouchard Pere et Fils. The Beaune appellation includes 1,620 acres of vineyards, of which 95% are planted to Pinot Noir, with the remainder to Chardonnay. Although there are no Grands Crus, there are 44 Premier Cru vineyards which account for nearly half the appellation’s vineyard acreage. The best vineyards are on the upper slopes around the town, and Beaune is especially known for its “clos,” or small, walled vineyards that are often parcels of larger vineyards. There are also Beaune village wines. Robert M. Parker Jr. wrote that the primary traits of Beaune reds in the best vintages are “an intense bouquet of berry fruit, principally black cherries and strawberries. The wines are rarely massive or large scaled, relying more on their smooth, silky, berry fruitiness and harmony to seduce…”
This red wine is relatively light and can pair with a wide variety of foods. The grape prefers cooler climates and the wine is most often associated with Burgundy, Champagne and the U.S. west coast. Regional differences make it nearly as fickle as it is flexible.