Burgundy Wine

“Bourgogne and I” : Jeremy Stockman

Jeremey Stockman is the deputy managing director of Hong Kong's biggest wine retailer. In this interview he chats to Ivy Ng about one of this favorite wine regions, Bourgogne.

Originally from the UK, Australia was where Jeremy Stockman really built his wine industry career. Fifteen years with the Coles Liquor Group saw Jeremy progressing his career in various positions but his labour of love was building Vintage Cellars into a national chain featuring fine wines from around the world. The year 2010 marked Jeremy’s next big move: his appointment at Watson’s Wine, Hong Kong’s largest wine retailer with 13 stores on Hong Kong island and a growing online platform. 

As the retailer’s Deputy Managing Director, Jeremy is normally a busy man to get hold of, between business management and work-related travels.  Under normal circumstances, I would more likely bump into Jeremy in Bourgogne than in the streets of Hong Kong.  This year’s unusual circumstances have given me (“IN”) the opportunity to catch up with Jeremy (“JS”) on his relationship with one of his favourite regions: Bourgogne!

IN: Describe your relationship with Bourgogne.

JS: A labour of love for decades: such enjoyment but always so much more to discover.

IN: Has climate change been a good or bad thing for Bourgogne? Why or why not?

JS: Climate change has not been a good thing in general as there are more climatic problems such as hail and frost in the vineyard. It also challenges consistency for Chardonnay & Pinot Noir.

IN: Market forces have driven some Bourgogne wines to unattainable levels. Is this a threat or an opportunity? Has there been a knock-on effect, positive or negative, on more affordable appellations?  Which is your best value-for-money Bourgogne wine buy (a particular wine or an appellation)?

JS: Threat: as it does make many Bourgogne wines out of the reach of most. Some traditional Bourgogne customers can’t afford the price and look elsewhere. Market forces (demand > supply) have driven some Bourgogne wines to unattainable levels.

Also, land value will force some families to sell (we have seen several high profile examples recently).

However, a positive affect is to explore more affordable appellations such as Savigny-lès-Beaune, Chorey-lès-Beaune, etc.

IN: Looking ahead, which Bourgogne appellation is the one to watch in the next 5-10 years? Why?

JS: I think there are many reasonably priced appellations that will get more attention. Improved viticulture and wine making increase their attractiveness. Examples include (but not limited to), Santenay, Rully, Mercurey, Mâcon.

IN: Have you tried the wines made with the “other” grape varieties of Bourgogne? Aligoté, Gamay, César, Sauvignon Blanc, etc? Please describe your experience.

JS: Yes I have. Some wonderful examples include the Aligoté of A&P de Villaine made by Pierre Benoit and Pinot Gris in the Vougeot Blanc* from Domaine de la Vougeraie.

[*Author’s note: The dominant (95%) variety for this wine is Chardonnay but Pinot Gris gives the wine its unique character.]

IN: The climats of Bourgogne were inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in July 2015. This represented a crowning moment for Bourgogne, through the convictions and efforts of its men and women.  If you could think of another milestone achievement for Bourgogne as a region, what could it be?

JS: Another milestone achievement more generally for Bourgogne as a region is the sophisticated pursual of organic and biodynamic philosophies.

IN: If you could choose one appellation to be promoted as a Grand Cru candidate, which one would it be (please also specify the climat)? Why?  

JS: Hmm: there are several that come to mind as potential all based on quality of wines coming from the appellation:

Meursault-Perrières

Vosne-Romanée: Cros Parantoux; Aux Malconsorts; Les Petits Monts…and potentially others.

IN: Is meeting the demand for its wines a challenge for Bourgogne as a region? What do you suggest to balance the demand?

JS: I think that there needs to be more awareness in Bourgogne on where the wines end up. We all know how much the top wines are traded and the more this happens the less the wines can be guaranteed in terms of provenance and condition (these are delicate wines that suffer if not stored properly). Clearly many allocations are quickly traded for profit and are not sold to consumers (collectors, restaurants). I encourage producers to ask their distributors where the wines are sold.

IN: Which Bourgogne vintage do you identify with the most? Why?

[I didn’t get a vintage from Jeremy but I would think 2010, the year he started at Watson’s Wine, could be a strong candidate? A successful vintage despite the climatic challenges. A vintage where the experience and hard work of vignerons paid off! A vintage that focuses on finesse and balance, rather than power and concentration.]

IN: Which Bourgogne wine best describes you as a person? (Please choose one from the 84 AOCs in Bourgogne.) Which dish would best pair with you as a Bourgogne wine?

[I have yet to find out which Bourgogne wine best describes Jeremy! However, he did share with me his favourite Bourgogne dish.]

JS: Boeuf Bourguignon – such a classic and a “go to” for me as I grew up working in my parents’ French bistro and this was always a favourite.

Credit: Cote d’Or Tourisme

*The article first appeared on Cheese and Wine HK website.

About Ivy Ng

Ivy Ng is a certified Bourgogne Wine Official Ambassador and worked as the former publisher of the drinks business Hong Kong. She is a graduate of WSET Level 4 Diploma and the UC Davis Extension Winemaking Certificate Program. She is an accomplished wine educator as well as a cheesemaker.

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