Pol Roger, Land Rover and the £60k Burgundy run

Land Rover recently partnered with world renowned wine and champagne brand Pol Roger in delivering a valuable cargo of the most exquisite and unique 2012 Burgundy from the Joseph Drouhin wine estate in Burgundy. Land Rover, more specifically the All-New Range Rover Sport, transported 3 cases of the 2012 vintage from Joseph Drouhin in Burgundy, worth a phenomenal £60,000 to London to have its credentials defined by wine experts such as Jancis Robinson and Tim Atkin at an exclusive tasting in Mayfair, London. The wine is some of the rarest ever made; In a good year, Drouhin’s Corton Charlemagne Grand Cru will fill just six barrels (approx 300 bottles). In 2012 it was down to three, grown on parcels of land barely bigger than a football pitch.

Pol Roger came to Land Rover for their assistance due to their vehicles being world renowned for their smooth capability and luxurious ride quality. It was key that is was driven safely back to the UK as soon as possible after it was bottled as the wine was Unfinished, also know as a cask sample meaning it was crucial that it be transported quickly and carefully to ensure that it didn’t spoil. The term Unfinished means it has not had time to stabilise and at this stage in life has a limited shelf life. The cargo’s journey consisted of a 10-hour drive from Burgundy to the West End….some of it through the eye of a wild storm. Given the challenges faced in the Burgundy region this year, and the reported global wine shortage, its no wonder that Pol were so keen to ensure that its precious cargo made it back to London safely and in the best possible time.

Burgundy is a newcomer to the world of top class wine. Until 40 or 50 years ago, the area was seen as a backwater compared to regions such as Bordeaux. Now, the quality of Burgundy is carefully controlled, even if it means a small production run. London, the base for some of the oldest wine merchants such as Berry Bros & Rudd – which started in St James’ Street in 1698 – remains the centre of the wine buying trade.

In addition to the £60,000’s worth of 2012 Burgundy, the All-New Range Rover Sport also transported a very special bottle of Pol Roger Vintage 1914, which was bought back to London to be donated by Pol Roger in support of the Imperial War Museum First World War Centenary campaign, the patron of which is The Duke of Cambridge. As part of this and to mark the centenary of the First World War, IWM London is opening ground-breaking new First World War galleries in Summer 2014. The bottle of Vintage 1914 will be auctioned at Bonhams early next year to raise money for the campaign.

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Chauffeur for the Chablis

In the boot of the Range Rover is the most expensive new wine on the planet. Three cases of the 2012 vintage from Joseph Drouhin in Burgundy, worth a phenomenal £60,000, are headed for London to have its credentials defined by wine experts such as Jancis Robinson and Tim Atkin.

Given the challenges faced in the region this year, and the reported global wine shortage, its no wonder this is such precious cargo. It is travelling in a car worth as much as its cargo to give it the best chance of arriving in perfect condition.

Wine is produced in extreme climates from the baking deserts of China to twister-hit Tornado Alley in America, but Burgundy is one region where vintners can usually rely on good winemaking weather. Not so in 2012.

The latest vintage had to contend with an arsenal of metrological forces. Early spring frosts delayed growth then heavy rain at flowering time caused millerandage, a condition that makes grapes to grow in a stunted manner. Finally, epic episodes of hail for half an hour at a time pummelled the fruit once fully grown.

It was lucky the wine was ever produced. The harsh summer cut yields to only a fifth the size of good harvest, but what little wine was created has the potential to be a memorable vintage.

“If you think of the whole year it was very demanding during the growing season,” says Véronique Drouhin-Boss, Head Winemaker at Joseph Drouhin. “Once we got the fruit we got very little of them but it’s a beautiful fruit so in the end it is a very good vintage.”

It is not her view, however, but the opinion of some of the world’s most influential critics and brokers in London that will define this wine and its value.

If they like it, then bottles from the same batch in the boot of the Range Rover will be worth thousands of pounds apiece and will rapidly increase in value.

The global demand for wine is now at an all time high. Financial services firm Morgan Stanley says demand exceeded supply by 300 million cases in 2012, and there are currently more than one million wine producers worldwide, making 2.8 billion cases annually. With increased interest from China, Russia and India, there’s still a shortfall and production is down by as much as a quarter from its high in 2004, mainly due to the wild swings of weather conditions.

The wine we are carrying is some of the rarest ever made. In a good year, Drouhin’s Corton Charlemagne Grand Cru will fill just six barrels (approx 300 bottles). In 2012 it was down to three, grown on parcels of land barely bigger than a football pitch.

Burgundy is a newcomer to the world of top class wine. Until 40 or 50 years ago, the area was seen as a backwater compared to regions such as Bordeaux. Now, the quality of Burgundy is carefully controlled, even if it means a small production run.

London, the base for some of the oldest wine merchants such as Berry Bros & Rudd – which started in St James’ Street in 1698 – remains the centre of the wine buying trade. Véronique Drouhin-Boss is pleased her wine will be appraised there.

But first there is a 10-hour drive ahead, from Burgundy to the West End….some of it through the eye of a wild storm. The motorway to the Channel is awash. The wipers fight to clean the rain from the windscreen.

As they emerge from the gloom, every other car and every bump and hole in the road are a potential threat to the precious wine secure in the boot. The crown jewels of Burgundy wine are not quite priceless but they are fragile.

For the Channel crossing, being tossed about in a ferry is not an option. The Eurotunnel a smoother, safer bet for the step onto English soil, before the last leg to London where the critics await.

Holding £200 of Drouhin wine in a single glass, wine expert and TV presenter Tim Atkin sniffs the contents and tips the precious red nectar to his lips. Véronique Drouhin-Boss looks on pensively. Judgment day has arrived.

“Really, really, really good,” comes the response from Atkin. The winemaker grins. “Clearly a very exciting vintage, especially in 2012 which is a very small vintage and very good vintage. In a year where you have demand exceeding supply, prices are going to go up.”

Jack

Professional seat warmer, aggressive tea drinker, and a #DigitalCreative based in Manchester, UK.