This past weekend Paul, Rupert and Dominic Symington were in Burgundy together with their colleagues from Primum Familiae Vini, a group of eleven of the most prestigious winemaking families in the world.
Every year the members come together to show their wines in a key market – this past February in London and in 2011 in Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, Brazil. But in addition to the rather spectacular public events, including gala dinners, charity auctions and press tastings, the group also meet for private working weekends. This weekend in Burgundy was the annual meeting to to share best practice, discuss developments in the wine world, and agree on activities for the coming year, as well as transfer the presidency – this year from Frederic Drouhin to Julien de Beaumarchais de Rothschild for 2013.
Dominic wrote in to say “It was great fun, with many members of all the families, including a good number from the next generation. It’s always nice to mix with friends and fellow wine-makers in an environment away from commercial pressure.” Though their wineries are located in a dozen different regions, the group share many common concerns not just of wine production and distribution, but managing and ensuring the future of a family business, and the protection of their vineyards, regions and unique heritage.
Business and pleasure naturally go together among winemakers, and Dominic describes the weekend’s events as a combination of serious discussions and brilliant wine and food:
At the end of the Annual Meeting we had a picnic lunch in Drouhin’s Premier Cru Clos de Mouches vineyards south of Beaune which began with a delicious Chablis Premier Cru aperitif, followed by both white and red wines from the Clos de Mouches. During the picnic we enjoyed a fascinating talk from Aubert de Villaine, proprietor of Domaine de la Romanée Conti, on the history and terroir of Burgundy and his efforts to get the region classified as a Unesco World Heritage Site. This was followed by a very technical presentation on the geology and different soil types within the region and their influence on the wines.
In the evening the team from the Michelin starred restaurant Hostellerie de Levernois served dinner in the Chambre du Roi at the Hospices de Beaune. Naturally more superb wines from fellow PFV members were served including Pol Roger 2002 magnum, Meursault Premier Cru Perrières 2002, Montrachet Marquis de Laguiche Grand Cru 2004 magnum, Chateau Mouton Rothschild 2001, an outstanding Griotte Chambertin Grand Cru 1985 and a fantastically youthful Warre’s 1980 Vintage Port.