For more than three years, Burgundy lovers have known how to find the shop of Reinout Albrecht and his partner Mildred Janssen in Amsterdam, having previously imported wines for the Dutch on-trade. You always feel welcome there and, thanks to the Coravin system, almost all bottles at Albrecht Janssen can be tasted without removing the cork.
1. What is your earliest wine memory?
"It was not a Burgundy but a Bordeaux. A Saint-Émilion Grand Cru. That's all I remember, unfortunately. I think I was 12. At Christmas, my father had prepared, as he usually did, a Mecklenburg goose. He took from his small wine cellar one of the bottles imported by a good friend of his. This was my first real glass of wine, and I never forgot the texture, smell and taste but also never found out exactly what it was."
2. Why is Burgundy your dream region?
"Burgundy is not a dream. Burgundy is also not love at first sight. They are wines you have to get to know, wines that you come to appreciate more with every glass. You find out that the complexity of a Burgundy cannot be found anywhere else, and slowly but surely you fall in love. Nowhere else will you find so many different wines in such a small area, and from so few grape varieties. Each patch of land of a few hundred metres has its own wine with its own character. The wine therefore bears the name of that vineyard first, and only then comes the producer in a very small way."
3. What is the most difficult thing about running a wine business?
"Your stock. Burgundy is mainly about wine from small producers. There is not much of that and you have to buy early, a few years before the sale. And then just hope that a few years later you don't turn out to have bought too much of one wine and too little of another. You have to assess what your customers are going to like, which is very exciting. But you also have to estimate how the economy is developing, whether your customers will have more or less money."
4. If you were a grape variety, which one would it be?
"I would like to mention pinot noir, Burgundy's most important grape next to chardonnay. Small, with a thin skin, delicate, spicy, full of fruit and zest for life. A little acidic, but also earthy, demanding, very complex, but basically cheerful and companionable."
5. Which bottle goes with you to a desert island?
"A bottle of Savigny les Beaune 1er Cru les Vergelesses White. The little sister of the Charlemagne. An intense wine, with lots of flint, overwhelming nose, concentrated and full, dry, with almost unnameable complex fruit. Every sip leaves a long memory thanks to the minerality of this top wine. I am also thinking of the Maranges 1er Cru le Clos des Rois. Santenay's neighbour, but rougher and more upbeat. The wine has hefty, round tannins, which are well offset by the fruit. Definitely not a seasoned top wine, but a typical red burgundy with quirkiness, friendliness, a bit stiff, but ultimately very generous. Exactly the character of the burgundy winemaker."
Read more interviews in WINELIFE #55. Order it here!
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