Tag Archives: Burgundy

L’Univerre restaurant in Bordeaux – a wine lover’s paradise

Burgundy in Bordeaux? How kinky can you get? And yet… there’s a restaurant in the center of Bordeaux that has a phenomenal selection of wines from the Côte d’Or (and elsewhere).

I first knew Fabrice Moisan when he managed a restaurant called Verretigo on the rue Georges Bonnac. The décor did not suggest it, but the food was good and wine list phenomenal, with a great selection of Burgundy (!) and oddball wines you’d never expect to see in Bordeaux in a million years, such as fine German wines. What’s more, the prices were downright reasonable.
Two years ago, Fabrice and his associates created Univerre (another play on words…) and moved to a new location, 40 rue Georges Bonnac, also in the Mériadeck district close to the heart of the city. The décor is more in keeping with the restaurant’s standing this time and has gained a devoted clientele.


A visit to l’Univerre’s website will give you a good feel for the place: http://www.univerre-restaurant.com/ And you can enjoy drooling over the wine list: some 1,300 different ones to choose from! The main list is 50 pages long. As incredible as this may seem, Burgundy has pride of place. Confused or overwhelmed by all these “foreign” wines? Fabrice will be glad to guide you!
The first thing you see when you enter the restaurant is the small Pinot Bar which serves fine wines by the glass thanks to a Eurocave dispenser with neutral gas that keeps the wines from going off. The dining room itself is rather small, with just ten tables. The decor is simple and modern, and one wall has a plate glass window with a wonderful view of bottles, some quite rare (Henri Jayer Cros Parantoux anyone?).

The cuisine? Let’s start off by saying that this is a restaurant for wine lovers so the food is necessarily good. But, let’s be honest: the star at l’Univerre is what’s in the glass. The menu is limited, featuring tried-and-true options. My first course was veal kidneys with garlic and parsley, and the main course was a tournedos of aged Aubrac beef. The latter was wonderful and served with chips and shallots cooked in butter.

The wines? We drank a Chablis and a red Burgundy.

 

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2007 Premier Cru La Forêt from Vincent Dauvissat (60 euros) was very enjoyable. The color was medium-deep with chartreuse highlights and showed some age. The understated nose was very typical of its appellation with lemony and delicate orange blossom overtones. The wine had a lovely soft attack, going on to show gooseberry and white currant flavours before evolving into a nippy, dry, mineral aftertaste with good texture and little evidence of oak ageing. The acidity was very precise and there was something deliciously lip-smacking and appetizing about this Chablis. It is quite enjoyable to drink now, but will last for years. The serving temperature was perhaps a tad too cold.

 


2007 Gevery Chambertin Premier Cru Clos Saint Jacques, vieilles vignes, from Domaine Fourrier (200 euros) went extremely well with the beef. This climat is considered by many Burgundy aficionados to deserve an upgrade to grand cru status along with the likes of Meursault Perrières, Nuits Saint Georges Les Saint Georges, Pommard Les Rugiens Bas, and a few others. Furthermore, Jean-Marie Fourrier is a highly-reputed winemaker.
The color was looking a little older than its years. The nose was sleek and sophisticated with very pure, soft, candied fruit nuances along with some musky and new leather overtones. In fact, the bouquet was altogether sensual, perfumed, and very classy, with cranberry and powdered talc aromas – a real treat just to smell, and impossible to describe with mere words…. Fresh, silky, and spherical on the palate, the wine seemed more ripe than many others from that vintage, and the oak influence was just right. In fact, this 2007 Clos Saint Jacques was so enjoyable that the mind boggles to think what it must taste like in a great year! I found it to be squarely in its drinking window.
Interestingly, Fabrice decanted the wine. I approve, although I know that some Burgundy lovers scoff at this.
I should also point out that Univerre uses impeccable Zalto glasses.

There’s a small branch of the Univerre (shop and wine bar) in the 6th arrondissement of Paris http://www.lasuite-atelier.com/projet/univerre-paris-up/ with a function room for tastings.
The associates have also set up a business in Hong Kong, where they are agents for several Burgundy producers (Roulot, Cathiard, etc.).

Classic French wines, including a 2001 Ch. La Conseillante

1996 Charles Heidsieck

 

Many wine dinners start out with a glass or two of Champagne, but people rarely give this more than passing mention when remembering the line-up of wines they have tasted. I think this is a pity, so I’ll break the mold and give special praise to a 1996 vintage Champagne from Charles Heidsieck.
I have a soft spot for Charles Heidseick (owned by the Descours family, along with Piper Heidsieck, since 2011) because I did a six month internship there in Reims when I was a college student.
I honestly think that this is one of the best grandes marques available today, from the Brut Réserve on up.
1996 is widely considered a fine vintage, and Mr. Parker rates it 97/100, considering it “slow to mature”.
The wine we had was in excellent shape, neither too young nor too old. The color was medium-gold and the bouquet was wonderfully subtle: slightly biscuity, understated, sophisticated, and sexy. The wine followed through in much the same way on the palate, with not a hair out of place, and a long, cool aftertaste. Wonderful.

Our guests that evening were Jakai Zhang (Ch. Le Bon Pasteur in Pomerol), Nerissa Chen (Ch. Kirwan), and Denis Darriet, owner of Ch. Seguin in Canéjan (appellation Pessac-Léognan). Feedback was very positive about the upcoming 2015 vintage which started today, August 24th, in Bordeaux for grapes destined to make Crémant.

 

2002 Corton Charlemagne

The first course was accompanied by a 2002 Corton Charlemagne from Domaine Bruno Clair. This also had sentimental value to me since it was a gift from the winemaker, Philippe Brun, whom my wife and I met when we lived in the Napa Valley years ago.
Mercifully, the wine did not suffer from the Burgundian blight of premature oxidation (I had two back-up bottles of chilled white wine just in case). The color was pale gold and the nose ultra-classic and exquisite. Not even an inkling of oxidation. Rather than hazelnut overtones I often find in white Burgundy, there were fine almond nuances. The wine surprised me by being not very rich on the palate, but it lived up to its grand cru status by the way it so gracefully evolved into a super long aftertaste, with controlled power. This wine is delicious now, but has the stuffing to age much longer.
Enough to restore one’s faith in white Burgundy.

2007 Château d'Ampuis

I am a great fan of Côte Rôtie, and have attended the Marché aux Vins in Ampuis (http://www.marche-aux-vins-ampuis-cote-rotie.com/) on three occasions. I very much recommend this 4-day event, with the proviso that you go on Friday and/or Saturday morning. Seeing as it is open to the public, there are simply too many people thereafter. Among a host of other wines, I bought two bottles of 2007 Château d’Ampuis 4 years ago at the Guigal stand. This was one of the most impressive wines I tasted all day.
Seeing as I had two bottles, I thought I would try one on the young side to see how it was doing.
The color was very deep and vibrant and the nose had the tell-tale aromas of fine Côte Rôtie: violet, black pepper, and even a smell of blood and raw meat (not as gruesome as it sounds). Despite what one may read in wine books, I tend to think of Côte Rôtie as a feminine wine. However, this one was fairly butch and had plenty of energy, vigor, and ageing potential. Yes, I will wait a long time before opening the second bottle.

2001 Château La Conseillante

 

The wine with the cheese course was 2001 Châteu La Conseillante. This was served blind, and most people thought it from a more recent vintage. The color certainly looked younger than its age and the nose had the trademark humus and truffle aromas of the finest Pomerol. The wine was luscious on the palate and very rich, but not overpowering or alcoholic – the balancing act of the finest Bordeaux. The texture was funky, velvety and even what I call “furry”. The aftertaste was assertive and featured deep black fruit nuances. As good as this was, the wine will improve further. It also confirms the good opinion I have of the 2001 vintage – and Château La Conseillante.