Burgundy In Boulder: The festival of festivals
October 4, 2017
Burgundy. Boulder. Fall. Three of my favorite things. And next week in Boulder, they blend together at the Annual Boulder Burgundy Festival.
Since 2010, when master sommelier and owner of the Boulder Wine Merchant, Brett Zimmerman, first dipped a toe into the concept of creating a celebration of the wines of the region that he is so knowledgeable and passionate about, Burg hounds and Burg-o-philes have made an annual pilgrimage to the Flatirons. They come to meet the people who make the wines, sell the wines and write about the wines.
But most of all they come to taste the wines.
"From the beginning we really just wanted a way to make Burgundy more accessible to people," Zimmerman said about the genesis of the festival. "It may dilute our allocations a bit," he chuckled in reference to the limited number of fine wines he receives from each producer and each vintage. "But it is worth it to help build a community of Burgundy lovers."
Essentially, the festival is a bacchanalia of outstanding tasting and dining events, accented by speakers who guide drinkers through the beauty, the complexity and the subtlety of the great chardonnay and pinot noir wines from Burgundy.
This year's festival begins Friday, Oct. 13, and runs through Sunday, Oct. 15. As in the past, it offers a selection of Burgundy's best in a series of tasting and dining events, many at the premier local restaurants. Boulder Burgundy Festival will host a who's who of outstanding wine professionals as well.
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The speakers include a compendium of professionals from different disciplines. Begin with Jay Fletcher, and Aspenite who is considered one of America's wine treasures. A master sommelier himself, Jay is a mentor to many of those who have studied in the Court of Master Sommeliers Program. He will pair with Jason Smith to lead the kickoff event, a seminar and tasting of old and rare Burgundy at the St. Julien Hotel on Friday.
Saturday will see two separate wine events at restaurants considered to be the pinnacle of outstanding wine service in America. The Flagstaff House, whose wine list has been honored with a Wine Spectator Grand Award since 1983 (they have a mind-boggling inventory of 18,000 bottles and 2,900 selections on their list), will feature a Paulée (harvest celebration) style event with sommeliers from all over the country pouring 50 wines from the region.
And that night, Frasca Food and Wine, and their James Beard Award-winning wine program, will host New York Times wine writer Eric Asimov and winemaker Rajat Parr of Sandhi and Domaine de la Cote as they pair and pour the wines of Vineyard Brands. This dinner event, which has a lofty $395 price tag, is nirvana for Burgundy connoisseurs. "It is a commitment," Zimmerman said about the price. "But for people who have some exposure to fine wines, they know that a wine like a '99 Clos de Tart is expensive." The opportunity to taste these wines at one sitting is rare indeed.
While there are a plethora of other events, including a Chablis brunch at Arcana and a dinner at PMG, it is the grand tasting that may offer the best value for those interested in tasting Burgundian wines that showcase the entire region.
Sunday from 3-6 p.m. at the St. Julien Hotel, over 200 wines will be available for tasting. The tickets, which sell for $125 for this event, are limited to just 180. That means, theoretically, more wines than people. "While there will be a number of great wines available (see the adjacent list for just a sampling), some people may discover that they prefer the village wines that are poured and are not so expensive," says Zimmerman. This is a great way to increase your knowledge of Burgundy and get an overview of the wines.
As the Boulder Burgundy Festival has grown in stature it has become a big draw for wine aficionados nationally. "It's really gratifying to have people from all over come to the event, not just from Colorado," Zimmerman noted. "We have groups of friends who come every year from Kansas City and Texas. We even have someone who makes it from Italy each year."
It has been a good run for the Boulder Burgundy Festival, "You know, it really began because I just wanted to pour some good wines and throw a great party," Zimmerman said with a sense of wonder.
Kelly J. Hayes lives in the soon-to-be-designated appellation of Old Snowmass. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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