Mondiale Event - Tasting of Burgundy Wines

Led by Winemaker Alex Gambal

Sunday, November 03, 2013


Mr. Alex Gambal, an American by birth and upbringing, is one of the very few non-French who has successfully established roots in Burgundy as a vineyard owner, vintner and negociant. He will share with us his wines and experiences in Burgundy.


The Beautiful Burgundies of Maison Alex Gambal


On November 3, 2013, thirty-six members and guests of the Chicago Société Mondiale Du Vin experienced the beautiful Burgundy wines of Maison Alex Gambal at an event attended by the winemaker. Bailli Mon Roldan also welcomed Bailli Bruce Foundree and other distinguished guests from the Lakeshore Chaîne as ties between the two chapters continue to strengthen under his diplomatic leadership.

The evening began with a reception at LM Bistro, a Parisian-style eatery located in the River North. Attendees admired the French chalkboard art and vintage chandeliers as they sipped 2004 J. Lassalle Champagne Brut 1er Cru Blanc de Blancs, a powerful Champagne with pronounced citrus flavors. Servers also offered delicious Pamplemousse Cocktails, created with house-made grapefruit vodka, Chambord, chamomile and lemon. Chef de Cuisine Ben Reaves created three different canapés for the reception: beef tartar with caper, Dijon vinaigrette and a rye crouton; scallop mousse with truffle asparagus salad; and celery root soup shooters with mustard caviar and pumpernickel.

Affable American Alex Gambal greeted guests and was eager to tell us his story. Originally from Washington D.C. and the real estate world, his passion for Burgundy steered him to this complex and fascinating wine region. He enrolled in Beaune’s viticultural school for adults, and then created Maison Alex Gambal in 1997 with the objective of expressing terroir, purity and character in all of his wines. Maison Alex Gambal now produces 60,000 bottles annually and is sold in over twenty countries.

Following the reception, members and guests sat down to a multi-course meal and Alex Gambal wine tasting. Each attendee had seven large wineglasses, so the first order of business was determining stemware ownership. Once that task was completed the dinner and tasting began in earnest.

Four Alex Gambal Chardonnays were offered, each from the Côte de Beaune subregion of Burgundy. Each of these terroir-driven white wines was beautifully balanced and possessed a long finish. The 2008 Chassagne Montrachet 1er Cru Clos St. Jean exhibited aromas of stone and white flowers with rich and intense citrus flavors. The 2001 Meursault 1er Cru Genevrieres had spicy, tropical fruit nose, refined flavors and very fine minerality. The 2008 Corton Charlemagne Grand Cru was made from Pernand-Vergelesses grapes aged in one-third new wood. Its aromas of orchard fruit with spice hints merged into precise apple flavors with ample acidity.

Last but not least, we were thrilled to try the 2011 Bâtard-Montrachet Grand. Alex acquired vines in the Grand-Cru Vineyard Bâtard-Montrachet in March 2011, becoming the first non-Frenchman in history to own vines in this legendary area. His first effort from this vineyard exhibits citrus and spice notes with powerful, rich flavors. While most Maison Alex Gambal wines are moderately priced, the average retail price of this wine is $350. What a treat!

Three Pinot Noir wines from Burgundy’s Côte de Nuits subregion were offered as well. The 2009 Clos de Vougeot Grand Cru Ripe offered notes of spice, black fruit with a long, smoky finish. The 2009 Échézeaux Grand Cru was a silky, full-bodied wine that will benefit from additional years of aging. The stylish 2010 Latricières-Chambertin Grand Cru exhibited red currant aromas and had a very fine and long finish.

Four courses accompanied the wines, which were all poured at the beginning of the meal. The first course was a mushroom consommé with a quenelle of fall vegetables and thyme followed by braised veal cheeks with crispy sweetbreads, pickled tongue and mushrooms. Next, we enjoyed a course of three cheeses: Petit Basque, St. André and Maytag Blue, accompanied by cherry jam, candied walnuts and pain au levain. For dessert Chef Reaves prepared Glacé de Délice de Bourgogne with poached pear, honey brioche and vin jaune.

As we completed the dinner Alex Gambal talked about his philosophy of wine making and answered our questions. Winemaking at Maison Alex Gambal is based on long-standing Burgundian practices and traditions. First and foremost is an artisanal focus on the vineyard and the work necessary to have the ripest and most healthy grapes because great wine is not possible without high-quality grapes. Alex lets nature express each vintage uniquely by using indigenous yeasts that occur naturally on the grapes. In keeping with Burgundian custom, Alex Gambal whites are barrel fermented and both of his red and white wines are matured on their lies with just one racking prior to bottling.

As the evening concluded, Vice Echanson Michael Belsley and Bailli de Chicago Mon Roldan thanked Alex Gambal for presenting his extraordinary Burgundy wines. They also acknowledged LM Bistro and Chef Reaves for his fine culinary offerings. Members of both the Chicago and Lakeshore Chapters were truly honored to attend this educational and palate-pleasing experience. À votre santé!


Dear Confrères and Consoeurs:

Please join us for a unique opportunity to dine with, and drink the wines of, Burgundy wine maker and negociant Alex Gambal. Founded in 1997 with a goal of fully expressing the purity, terroir and character of each vintage, Maison Alex Gambal produces complex wines that have won worldwide critical acclaim. Today, Gambal’s wines are distributed in over 20 countries. Come hear Gambal describe his wine making philosophy, including how he views wines as a living product up to their bottling, which is done naturally, by gravity, without filtration and following the phases of the moon. We will have an opportunity to taste four whites and four reds from Maison Alex Gambal (Please see attached list).

This event is not to be missed. Long time Chicago Chaine member, Maitre de Table Restaurateur Nicole Outrequin Quaisser, together with her husband, Stephan, are welcoming us to their restaurant, LM Bistro, for this event. LM Bistro’s Chef de Cusiine Ben Reaves will be preparing a savory menu to compliment and accentuate the French wines we will be tasting during the event. Prior to joining the Quaissers at LM Bistro, Chef Reaves was chef de cuisine at Brasserie 54 by LM, a Sous Chef at Premise Restaurant and worked with Graham Elliot.

Space is very limited so please sign up early for this unique opportunity!

Price Per Person $175 Mondiale Member and Guest ($195 Non-Mondiale Member)
Dress Code Smart Casual
Start/End 4:30 PM/8:00PM
Parking Metered Street Parking

In vino veritas,

Michael Belsley