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Domaine Chanson Event with Vincent Avenel

Langton’s had the pleasure of hosting Vincent Avenel, General Manager of Domaine Chanson Père et Fils for an evening of new release and back-vintage wines. Tasting red and white Burgundy at Doltone House SOHO @ Jones Bay Wharf in the heart of Sydney Harbour… there are worse ways to spend an evening. Explore our Domaines Chanson portfolio here.

Everything that follows must be taken considering the limited context of Burgundy. Where ‘value’ is used, think ‘Burgundian value.’ Where ‘affordable’ is written, read ‘affordable for Burgundy.’ While Claret fanciers might say the world’s greatest wines hail from Bordeaux, Burgundy lovers will disagree. However, minuscule production volumes in Burgundy fall far short of global demand. What this does to the price is obvious.

Service at Chanson event

Domaine Chanson Père et Fils, established in 1750, is one of the five great Burgundy négociant houses. Though modest in scale compared to its competitors, Chanson still produces Grand Cru wines that can be accessed for prices in line with top tier Australian Pinot and Chardonnay.

Prior to dinner and the tasting, Langton’s sat down to talk with Vincent Avenel. Charming, affable and relaxed, as the General Manager of a Burgundy négociant house, this isn’t exactly a surprise. However, as someone who has recently taken over the reins, he seems as confident in his position as he is in his wines. If only there was a French term for savoir-faire.

Vincent, whose background is in sales and marketing, took over from Guy du Courcel, who had raised the bar for Chanson since his 2002 appointment by owners, Bollinger. Yes, the Champagne house!

‘...there is a lot of pressure.’

We asked Vincent about the challenges of management around harvest time. 

‘During two weeks, the decisions you are going to make in terms of when to pick, how many people you need, what kind of vinification we are going to do, will have a huge impact on the next two or three years. So there is a lot of pressure.’

‘...working with mother nature, we can really feel it.’

The pressure has increased with the temperature soaring across Europe. With heatwaves looking like the new normal, we asked Vincent how Chanson are planning to deal with climate change. 

‘For this year [2019], it’s too early to tell. But what I can tell you is that for the last 20 years I have been working in Burgundy I have seen a huge change. A very good indication is picking dates. 20 years ago, we would start in the middle of September. Now we begin picking at the start of September and in some cases the end of August. So that is an indication that global warming is not just a concept, it is a reality. And, working with mother nature, we can really feel it.’

And the Chanson view of the Australian market for Burgundy? 

‘For us, it’s obviously not a big volume. But it is a very good market for promoting and selling our premium wines. Actually, many of our customers are producers themselves and they buy our wines as we, in Burgundy, are considered the benchmark. Pinot Noir and Chardonnay have become very trendy in the last ten years and Australia is obviously following that trend. And there are lots of good restaurants here, the cuisine level is very high and people very curious about Burgundy.’

Vincent Avenel

After talking to Vincent, we were joined by 60 guests of Langton’s for a masterclass dinner at SOHO @ Jones Bay Wharf. Vincent led the proceedings with a tasting of his latest Grand Cru and Premier Cru Bourgogne blanc and rouge. We were also treated to some back vintage wines that showed the development of the wine over just five years. If patience is your particular virtue, then cellaring these wines will reward over decades. 

Vincent also challenged some of the hallowed names of Burgundy with wines that don’t cost in the thousands, if not the tens-of-thousands (in fact, you’re lucky if you get them at that!). It was a common refrain of guests during the evening on the night; ‘Grand Cru Burgundy at this price? It’s great!’ After a few glasses, Vincent got the crowd going with a song, the details of which will remain a delightful memory for those in attendance. 

Next time, perhaps?

Explore the wines of Domaine Chanson in our portfolio or contact your Langton’s wine broker for different formats, back vintages and forthcoming premium events.

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