Founded in 1731 by Michel Bouchard, Bouchard Pere & Fils is one of Burgundy’s oldest négociant houses, however with more than 130 hectares under their ownership, they are also one of the largest landowners in the region. From their 74 hectares of 1er Cru vineyards, Bouchard produces 28 Premiers Crus, but their flagship wine is unquestionably their monopole Beaune Grèves 1er Cru Vignes de l’Enfant Jésus. Located just north of the city centre of Beaune, Beaune Greves is considered one of Beaune’s top 1er Crus and while it covers a rather vast 32 hectares, the very best vineyards within it are located at the very centre where the 3.9 hectare Vignes de L’Enfant Jesus plot is located. The 2018 vintage was an excellent one for the Cote de Beaune who had suffered from a debilitating amount of hail storms and frost in recent years, and who flourished under the ample sunshine of the vintage. It is no surprise than that both William Kelley of the Wine Advocate and Neal Martin of Vinous both awarded its best ever score of 92-94 points. Available today at the price of £420 per case of six IB, Neal Martin makes the point in particular that this exceptional wine, “punches with many more expensive Premier Crus in the Côte de Nuits.” Indeed the red wines of the Cote de Nuits have historically been considered more esteemed than those of the Cote de Beaune and therefore have traded at a considerable premium. However, as pricing becomes increasingly untenable for 1er and Grand Cru vineyards in Gevrey-Chambertin and Vosne-Romanee, the comparable value of a wine with the historic pedigree of Beaune Grèves Vignes de l’Enfant Jésus only becomes more apparent.
The name Vigne de L’Enfants Jésus which translates to “Vineyard of the Christ Child” is thought to date back to 1638 when Anne of Austria gave birth to the Sun King, King Louis XIV after several devastating still births. As the legend goes, the birth of this long awaited heir to the French throne had been predicted by a Carmelite nun, Marguerite du Saint-Sacrement, who had founded the order of the “Domestiques de la famille du Saint Enfant Jesus.” In order to celebrate both the successful prediction and the joyous occasion of the birth, the Carmelite order named its most prestigious Beaune Vineyard “Vignes de L’Enfant Jesus.” After many centuries under the ownership of the Carmelite order, and following the French revolution, the Bouchard Père & Fils purchased the entire 3.9 hectare plot in 1791, which today is the most celebrated monopole in their considerable portfolio.
Bouchard Père & Fils have no shortage of historical impact in the village of Beaune, and in fact one of their most notable purchases was in 1820 when Bernard Bouchard acquired the Chateau de Beaune, a former royal fortress built in the 15th Century by King Louis XI. With several of the original towers and ramparts still standing today, its most notable feature is the vast network of cellars that run 10 metres underground and, which house over 2,000 priceless bottles dating back to the 19th century. In 1995 Bouchard Père & Fils was bought by Joseph Henriot, whose family have been growers and producers in Champagne for over 200 years. Bouchard Père & Fils has seen a dramatic transformation since its purchase by the champagne house Henriot in 1995. Following a period of serious investment, the quality and popularity of the brand has absolutely sky-rocketed in recent years and is finally living up to the enormous potential that their wealth of blue chip vineyards holdings would warrant.