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    Sexual confusion protects vineyards from pests
Maggie Beale
2005-06-03 06:32

The Burgundy region is often overshadowed by Bordeaux - except by very discerning connoisseurs who are happy to welcome a new genre of young wine producers. Among the top vineyards in Burgundy are Five Grand Crus, Seven Premier Crus and Domaine Bertagna.

Domaine Bertagna is fortunate enough to have two very personable young women who are both gifted wine producers: Director Eva Reh-Siddle - one of the Gunther Reh family who bought the chateau in 1983 - and Estate Manager Claire Forestier.

Wine making in Burgundy goes back to Roman times. Vougeot - home of the Bertagna winery - was established by Cistercian monks in the 14th century. There was massive investment in the mid-1980s and a change of methods included a firm refusal to use chemical products such as insecticides and fertilizers throughout the establishment.

"At the winery our philosophy is that wines are made in the vineyard and not in the cellar. Our philosophy of integrated production respects the ecological balance of the soils, and the environment as a whole," said Paul Armitage of Domaine Bertagna during a whirlwind visit to Hong Kong.

As part of their reasoned prevention scheme, sexual-confusion capsules are used to eliminate pests. And the vines own life-rhythm cycle is under study to develop a cosmic-time cycle calendar for working the vineyards.

Their recipe for success is clear: Start with perfect vines planted in a most unique area within a fabulous terroir, and look after them carefully. At harvest time, choose the most perfect grapes and treat them with utmost passion to render elegant wines full of vigour and exemplary balance.

Putting their beliefs to the test at a private tasting last week, I tried five of the Domaine Bertagna wines and found:

Bourgogne Hauts Cotes de Nuits 2003 is a vigorous wine, purple-tinged bright red with red cherry flavours and aromas, hints of soft summer fruits and a certain austerity in the finish. Velvety, full mouthfeel and lingering finish.

Vougeot Clos de la Perriere Monopole 2002 is aged 100 per cent in oak, 25 per cent of which is new. Mauve on the rim, it is brilliant, lively and velvety with some leather and red plums. With soft lush tannins, it is a feminine wine with a long dry finish.

Nuits Saint Georges, Premier Cru Les Murgers 2002 - pigeon blood red and quite masculine on nose and palate. Big cherry flavours, chewy with tobacco hints and a long finish, it has more aggressive tannins than the previous wine. Age for at least five to six years before opening; it should go another 12 to 15 years easily.

The Clos St Denis 2002 had coffee and black cherries on the nose, it was a little hollow on mid-palate but wonderfully full at first sip.

Vougeot Blanc Premier Cru 2002 is straw yellow in colour, creamy, with balanced acidity, and with some oak and a touch of pineapple on the palate. Long finish.

A second pass at the wines 30 minutes or so later put the Vougeot Clos de la Perriere Monopole 2002 firmly in place as a wine to drink now. A brief test with my Wine Key tool confirmed what my palate had already discerned; it would drink well for the next six to eight years.

Easily able to go twice that length of time before peaking, the Nuits Saint Georges, Premier Cru Les Murgers 2002 is a must to collect for your cellar - if you can find it. These are classy wines, in limited supply and not for the "top up with sprite brigade".

To order, contact:

Maggie Beale is an international food and wine critic and judge; and president of Wine Writers Circle. She can be reached at:

(HK Edition 06/03/2005 page4)


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