Oregon Winemaking Symposium, held for two days at the University of California at Davis. Representing Burgundy was a cadre of 15 winemakers and enologists who shared their winemaking savvy with their counterparts from the West Coast.
Californians featured in the series of lectures and tastings included such well-known winemakers as Bob Cabral of Williams Selyem, Byron Kosuge of Saintsbury, Greg La Follette of Flowers, Terry Adams of Sonoma-Cutrer and Ted Lemon of Littorai, along with a team of enologists from UC Davis and Oregon State University.
From Burgundy, winemakers such as Jean-Yves Bizot of Domaine Bizot in Vosne-Romanee, Jean-Paul Durup of Chateau de Maligny in Chablis, Frederic Lafarge of Domaine Michel Lafarge in Volnay and Bernard Hudelot of Domaine de Montmain in Villars Fontaine were accompanied by a group of scientists from the University of Burgundy.
On hand to listen and taste were some 400 winemakers, mostly from California, all of whom were hungry to learn more about Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, the two great wine grapes of Burgundy. (In Beaujolais, which is also part of Burgundy, the Gamay grape reigns, as Dominique Piron reminded the crowd with his Domaine de la Chanaise Morgon 1996.)
Pouring rare wines such as the Williams Selyem Hirsch Vineyard 1996 for 400 is challenging, and happily, the wine showed well. But the Burgundians, who prefer to wait a bit before drinking their own wines, arrived with vintages that were more evolved, displaying greater finesse and elegance. A top contender was Domaine de Montmain 1988, which served up classic raspberry, truffle and tobacco flavors, reminding attendees that it pays to cellar good Pinot Noir.
Shared by everyone was a passion for great wine and the culture that creates it. With presentations ranging from hard technology to softer philosophy and aesthetics, "Rave 99" reflected the essence of all wine -- a blend of science and art.