Sunday, March 22, 2009

Parcels of Hautes Côtes des Nuits Vineyard Available for Under $10,000. USD

This is a rare opportunity to own a piece of a Burgundy vineyard. We happened upon an interesting add, by chance as we were looking on the internet for a vineyard to buy. We came across this innovative idea that allows for multiple owners of an already well-established Burgundy vineyard. I am talking about Burgundy, France...home of some of the most desired wines in the world.
About 3 km as the crow flies from Nuits St. Georges is the tiny hamlet of Villars Fontaine, where an historic vineyard is selling off plots of land for 6.100 euros/parcel. The parcels are 200 sq. metres each, defined by the average amount of grapes one person can pick in a day. As the owner of one such parcel, I would like to tell you about the wine, and the benefits of becoming involved in this unique partnership/co-ownership.
We have been co-owners for the past two years, have received a slight revenue for the rental of our land, and are able to bring home (we are Canadian, but we presently live in Italy), 100 bottles of AOC Burgundy wine, at cost + 20% once a year. This is a rare opportunity as Burgundy vineyards seldom change hands. Because of this wine's ability to age beyond 20 years (there are some Burgundy whites still on sale today dating back to the 1850's), we view this as an investment.

In 1973, Bernard Hudelot, a native of Villars Fontaine and professor of oenology at Université de Bourgogne, purchased and replanted the vineyard that had originally been planted in the 11 century by the monks of St-Denis, under the protection of the Sirs de Vergy family. While historically the vines planted at this elevation didn’t obtain the ripeness of other more favorable spots in the Côtes d’Or, Bernard Hudelot feels that climate change, as observed over the past 15 years, has now placed these vines at an optimum elevation. To illustrate this point, M. Hudelot’s literature on the state of his vineyard is filled with references from renowned climatologists and enologists on how climate change is affecting the state of the vines and wines in Burgundy. In an article written by Franck Bassoleil, a journalist for a local Burgundy newspaper, Le Bien Public, the author outlines that in 2003, vineyard owners harvested their grapes by the unprecedented date of 19th of August. He references the statistical work of Dr. Lavalle, published in 1855 that indicates that the earliest date ever for grape harvesting would have been 26 of August 1420. For the moment, these references are isolated and remain inconclusive as to whether or not climate change, in the near future will have a real impact on the quality of the vines and wines in Burgundy. It is clear that Bernard Hudelot would like to think so.

The evidence that I would like to put forth to you that this is a good investment is in the quality of the wine itself. These are wines that will age 20 to 30 years without loosing their structure and freshness. The reds are aged from between 30 to 48 months in new oak. They are bottled without filtration using egg-whites as a fining agent. The wines begin to come into themselves after about 10 years for the reds. It is the Chardonnays at this point that are of exceptional quality. After spending 18 months in new oak they have a life that will see them through to at least 30 years. They are derived from excellent white marl soils and have recently won a blind taste test over Bâtard-Montrachet, Montrachet and Corton Charlemagne for the 1990 vintage. We brought home the 2002 vintage and so convinced am I of the quality of these wines, that I am willing to send you a bottle to try for yourself, should you be seriously interested in purchasing a plot of land, as long as it doesn't cost me an arm and a leg to get it to you(while my quantities last).
Bernard Hudelot has recently purchased the Château “Le Pré aux Dames” that was originally part of the estate. He has sold over 500 parcels and it is his intention to sell off all remaining 400 or so plots. A professional paid staff, who are also co-owners currently maintain the vines and create the wines of this estate. They are also co-managers. There is a meeting of all partner/owners once a year in May where we review the results of the previous year’s harvest. In principal each partner/owner has the opportunity to buy 100 bottles per parcels owned of Burgundy from that year’s harvest at cost + 20%. The 20% covers all the costs involved in operating this vineyard. Earlier years are also availabe for purchase at a reduced price to the co-owners. M. Hudelot also offers his cellars for the cellaring of your wine, should you wish to let them age on location. In 2010 all management of this vineyard will be relinquished in its entirety to the co/owner-partners.
M. Hudelot is hopeful that he will sell the remaining 400 parcels.
Such transactions are legal in Bourgogne and are done under the supervision of the law firm Nourissat et Misserey in Dijon. This type of ownership is called G.F.A or Groupement Foncier Agricole.
The Appelation Hautes Côtes des Nuits was awarded in 1961 over an area that covers about 2.500 hectares and I own a piece of it.
For my tasting notes on the 2002 Chardonnay from this estate, please see the first entry in this blog.
I would be happy to answer any questions that you might have regarding this wine or becoming a partner/co-owner.

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