A veteran of the food and wine industry, with hospitality industry footprints stamped across France, UK and Hong Kong, Eric Desgouttes has been running the Greater China business of Kerry Wines with quintessential French flair, combining his nose for fine wines and palate for gourmet food. Chez Desgouttes, Eric is an accomplished home chef, turning out delicious food for his family and friends, alongside his wife Rachael, aka pastry chef.
Here I scribbled some notes while watching Eric prepare the dishes. We chatted about his epiphany moment with Bourgogne wines, who he admires most in Bourgogne, and which Bourgogne wine he would serve with his roasted veal rack with morels.
IN: Describe your relationship with Bourgogne.
ED: Started pretty late. When I moved to England to work at the tender age of 24, the Sommelier from The Connaught Hotel helped me in the discovery of this region.
IN: Which descriptors would you choose for Bourgogne wine: sophisticated or contemporary; simplistic or enigmatic; dynamic or traditional; serene or schizophrenic; monotone or colourful?
ED: Sopisticated. Enigmatic. Dynamic. Both Serene and Schizophrenic…..[definitely] Colourful! Always a complicated region but we’ve seen some great improvements in the last 15 years.
IN: Has climate change been a good or bad thing for Bourgogne?
ED: I am not a scientist but yes, it has been an improvement as we now very rarely see an under-ripe/vegetal vintage.
IN: Market forces have driven some Bourgogne wines to unattainable levels. Is this a threat or an opportunity?
ED: A threat. It does concern me, with the potential of seeing the top appellations belonging only to big corporations or the ultra wealthy. In some ways, it has been good for some less well-known appellations due to the cost increase of the more famous names.
IN: Which is your best value-for-money Bourgogne wine buy?
ED: Saint-Véran, Santenay, Pernand-Vergelesses, to name a few.
IN: Looking ahead, which Bourgogne appellation is the one to watch in the next 5-10 years?
ED: Will Beaujolais be considered part of Burgundy? If so, I hope to see it gaining more attention.
IN: Have you tried the wines made with the “other” grape varieties of Bourgogne? Aligoté, Gamay, César, Sauvignon Blanc, etc?
ED: Yes, I am slowly discovering Gamay and Aligoté and it will be a nice alternative for the entry and mid-level wines.
IN: If you could choose one appellation to be promoted as a Grand Cru candidate, which one would it be?
ED: For red wines, I would probably say Chambolle-Musigny Les Amoureuses or Gevrey-Chambertin Clos St Jacques. For whites, Meursault- Perrières. Already today, the market prices of these wines are often superior to those of many Grand Crus!!
IN: Is meeting the demand for its wines a challenge for Bourgogne as a region?
ED: The negative effect is the price pressure on the regional and village appellation wines. At a certain price point, there exist many other options for consumers and we may see a drop.
IN: Is there a personality from Bourgogne you most admire?
ED: Probably the Ramonet brothers – great wines, generous and approachable personalities and the wines remain affordable on release.
IN: Which Bourgogne vintage do you identify with the most?
ED: For white: 1989, they have been drinking so well and show no sign of oxidation from the best estates. Just had a Chevalier Montrachet M. Niellon, it was magic!!
For Red: Probably 2005 vintage, still a bit young but it will deliver so much pleasure and will last a long time.
IN: Which Bourgogne wine best describes you as a person? Which dish would best pair with you as a Bourgogne wine?
ED: I would say Chambertin from Domaine Rousseau and I would love to have it with a roast veal rack with fresh morels!!