Episode 472 of I’ll Drink to That! was released recently, and it features Anthony Hanson MW. Anthony Hanson is the author of the book Burgundy, which was originally published in 1982 and then revised for a second edition in 1995. He is also today a consultant for Haynes Hanson & Clark, as well as The Fine Wine Experience in Hong Kong.
We often think of Burgundy as a traditional wine region, composed of small growers in vaulted cellars who are doing today more or less what their families have done for generations. But after listening to Anthony Hanson describe how much Burgundy has changed since the 1960s, it becomes clear that such a “traditional” conception of Burgundy cannot be correct. To name one reason why, there has been a tremendous growth since the middle of the twentieth century in the number of domaines bottling a large amount of their own production. Previously, that wine (or those grapes) had been going off to the negoce. Each successive time that Hanson has described the domaine bottlers – first in his 1982 book, then in the 1995 edition, and now in this interview talking about the current situation – their ranks have increased considerably. If one only considers that by bottling a large percentage of their own wine, many of today’s new domaines couldn’t – by definition – be doing what their fathers were doing, then one has to reconsider the ease with which we throw around that “traditional” descriptor for Burgundy. Dad (or granddad) probably sold the wine off in bulk, not in bottle, and that wine would have been blended and most likely “corrected,” as well. They probably weren’t raising the wine the way a small grower would today, for bottling themselves. Of course there have been other sea changes in Burgundy over the decades as well, and Hanson addresses those in turn: the first and second generation of clones, the spread of chemical fertilizers, consulting oenologists like Guy Accad, the declining use of chaptalization, Parker’s influence, premox, and climate change. What we think of as a traditional region has been constantly in flux. Hanson, who lives in Burgundy, does an excellent job in this interview of providing context to the many changes.
I’ll Drink to That is the world’s most listened-to wine podcast, hosted by Levi Dalton. Levi has had a long career working as a sommelier in some of the most distinguished and acclaimed dining rooms in America. He has served wine to guests of Restaurant Daniel, Masa, and Alto, all in Manhattan. Levi has also contributed articles on wine themes to publications such as The Art of Eating, Wine & Spirits magazine, Bon Appetit online, and Eater NY. Check out his pictures on Instagram and follow him on Twitter: @leviopenswine