On this annual visit to our European wineries - I found myself in Burgundy with a free day (normally reserved for catching up on laundry and booking train or plane tickets to my next destination) - So I jumped in the car with my seasoned professional wine traveller ‘Haggie’ - and we made our way to Nuits-Saint Georges to see if we could call on Laboure-Roi.
The history of Laboure-Roi dates back to 1832, when it was founded by Monsieur ‘Laboure’ and Monsieur ‘Roi’. The Burgundy négociants firm of Laboure-Roi, today owned by brothers Armand, Louis and Philippe Cottin, is involved not only in selling wines, but first and foremost, aging - to be released only when they show the ‘terroir’ from which they come. With the expert advice of their five oenologists, they select the grapes and juice, conduct the vinification process and then age the wines in barrels, tanks or bottles.
Laboure-Roi is a new breed of Burgundy négociants, a commercially savvy company and whose exports account for 70% of their business. Enterprising they may be, but they also have a huge respect for the traditions of Burgundy; Louis and Armand are descendants of a long line of Burgundian business families and their focus is to continually lift the status of this renowned region. As they put it themselves: "The team, as a whole, does its best to improve the cultural and sensorial art of the Great Wines of Burgundy, because that is the tradition of our region."
Working closely with top growers, Laboure-Roi have an intimate understanding of the unique terroir of the individual sites; by creating and owning one of the most advanced laboratories in France, they also embrace technology and innovation. The wines themselves are elegant and balanced, often with an appealing feminine edge; Chardonnays have finesse and subtle power, Pinot Noirs complexity and character.
We drove past the original winery / cellars on the main road through Nuits-Saint Georges and found our way through the back streets to their new site and head-office. Being that it was harvest time - I was not expecting to see too many of the winemaking team or have much time to spend with others - but we were warmly welcomed by Helen Holyoak (Sales Administration Manager) - and we spent some time catching up on the vintage with Patrick Sosnowicz (Export Manager) - who talked us through the vintage and the fruit that had already come in and how several of the previous vintages were developing in barrel and bottle.
Time was short, so we excused ourselves, not to delay them any further, and we found time later in the day - to open a bottle or two (or was it three) of the Laboure-Roi wines - just to reacquaint ourselves with these very approachable, easy drinking styles of wine.