Master Sommelier Brett Zimmerman, who took over at the Boulder Wine Merchant just over a year ago, was recently consulting on a customer's cellar when a conundrum led to a new activity. "The client said, 'I want to reload with a bunch of Burgundy, but I don't get a chance to taste those things,'" Zimmerman explains. "So I thought, let's do something fun."
"Something fun" meant planning a two-day Burgundy festival, during which Zimmerman will partner with Boulder restaurants, suppliers and other local master sommeliers -- including Bobby Stuckey and Richard Betts -- to give the public a chance to learn more about one of France's most prolific wine regions while also tasting a lot of high-quality wine.
"Burgundy is so producer-driven that you really have to taste these wines or find people that you trust to direct you to them," Zimmerman says. "People aren't always willing to roll the dice for something they haven't tasted, so we wanted to work it from a couple of different angles: We wanted to make it beneficial for suppliers and restaurants, and we also wanted to get people excited to drink Burgundy."
To accomplish that, he organized a festival with four events ranging in price, all offering ample opportunity to taste, pair and chat about Burgundy.
The festival kicks off on October 29 with a lunch at Mateo that's "casual," says Zimmerman. "We'll open three or four bottles of a bunch of things, and it'll be like a big cocktail party with family-style food. We'll taste a bunch of stuff."
The same night, Frasca Food and Wine will host a dinner pairing top-notch wines to a prix fixe menu. "We can't crack open all Grand Cru wines," Zimmerman says, "but we'll open some pretty special stuff." That dinner is limited to twenty people and costs $250 a plate.
The next day, Zimmerman will partner with Stuckey and Betts to give a seminar on the wine region, opening wines from the same producer and same vintages and demonstrating the difference between, say, a Meursault AOC wine and a Meursault Premier Cru. The goal of the seminar, he explains, is to "illustrate why site is important in Burgundy."
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And later that day, interested patrons will have the opportunity to taste dozens of versions of Burgundy: The Mediterranean is hosting a grand tasting, where twelve distributors will display eight to fifteen wines each.The $25 ticket will get you unlimited access to what they're pouring, and you'll get to nibble on passed tapas, too.
If you need more justification to drink some really excellent juice, Zimmerman notes that proceeds from the tasting and seminar are going to the Growe Foundation, a Boulder-area organization that focuses on educating kids about local, organic food.
The sommelier also says that he plans to make this event annual, and also organize more festivals surrounding terroir-driven, site-specific wines. For more information on this inaugural festival, go to the Boulder Wine Merchant website.