Burgundy in Riga March 16th, 2020

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BurgInRiga5It shows just how quickly events are moving. There was no discussion of cancelling my visit to Riga in Latvia to host a series of Burgundy events in early March, but now scarcely more than a week, later, both Latvia and France are in virtual lockdown. My trip may prove to be the last hurrah of the ancien regime, but I am so thrilled to have visited the beautiful city of Riga on the fringes of the Baltic.

I was hugely impressed by the enthusiasm and knowledge of the Latvians. It is worth pointing out that only Canada, Japan and Latvia had more than one contender (out of 66 in total) in the finals of the Sommelier world championships in 2019, with Raimonds Tomsons reaching the last three and Kaspars Reitups not far behind. I met them both during the various events beautifully organised by Aigars Nords. Incidentally I become Džaspers Moriss in Latvian.

We began with a Meursault masterclass featuring En la Barre from Antoine Jobard alongside Lafon’s Clos de la Barre, Roulot’s Tillets and Tesson, then Charmes & Perrières 2014 from Bouchard and 2009 from Lafon, before finishing with three Genevrières (M Bouzereau, Mikulski and A Jobard) and the rare red Meursault Caillerets from Mikulski.

Only one of the bottles – a Lafon Perrières 2009 – appeared to be prematurely oxidised but lo and behold it did the resurrection thing: and when we tried it again at the end of the evening it had lightened in colour, freshened up on the nose and proved to be an absolute delight.

The following day I hosted a masterclass for industry professionals, the Latvijas Vinziņu Asociāciju, on white Burgundy – a trio from the southern parts, a trio from Chablis, one each from St-Aubin, Meursault, Puligny, Chassagne and a pair of grands crus. There were some dauntingly difficult questions from the floor (can you tell us five ways in which kimmeridgian soil affects the taste of the wine compared to other clay-limestone?) but I think we had a great seminar.

Finally, a most enjoyable Paulée, Latvia style at Vincent’s restaurant where Raimonds Tomsons is the head sommelier. This was a very civilised affair, organised in a different style to those which I have attended in Meursault, London and elsewhere in that the meal ws accompanied by some good Burgundy (three whites and three reds) for all of us and only afterwards did guests pull out a bottle or two. I particularly enjoyed a 1964 Bouchard Vigne de l’Enfant Jesus, Meursault Perrières 1996 Comte Lafon, Chambertin Clos de Bèze 1976 Drouhin-Laroze and Volnay Mitans 2009 from Michel Lafarge.

It may have been a mistake though to stop off in a bar on the way back to the hotel for a bottle of Champagne Drappier 1979 and another of Roederer Cristal 2005. Particularly as I had to leave for the airport at 5.30 the next morning!

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