Betrothed at age 11, Louis XIII of France and Anne of Austria, from the Kingdom of Spain, couldn’t care less for each other.
By the age of 14, the couple came under increasing pressure from both sides to consummate their marriage and forestall any possibility of annulment. Louis demurred, and his mom famously ignored the young Queen Anne, choosing to remain acting Queen herself. Even in 1617, when the 16-year-old Louis got the gumption to oust his mother from the throne, assassinate most of her lovers, and seize power himself, the bedroom remained turbid.
It wasn’t until 1619, under intense lobbying from the court, that The Deed was finally done. But sadly, after several miscarriages, ardor again slipped away. What followed was a cold, nearly two-decade period where Louis was off fighting wars and Anne came increasingly under suspicion, as some of those wars involved her dad’s empire, Spain.
And then, a miracle happened.
Legend has it that a Carmelite nun, Marguerite du Saint-Sacrament, prophesied the birth of a long-anticipated heir to the French throne via a miracle straight from God. An official newspaper of the day exclaimed “it was a marvel when least expected.”
“It” being the birth of le Roi Soleil, or Louis the Fourteenth, issue and heir to the French throne.
So happy was Louis XIII at the long-awaited birth of his son that he dedicated all of France to the Virgin Mary and specifically donated four hectares of vines in Beaune Grèves to the Carmelites and Marguerite du Saint-Sacrament, which the nuns named Vigne de l’Enfant Jesus, shortened: The Baby Jesus (he’s even pictured on the label).
Why do I recite this history to you?
Because this vineyard, under Bouchard’s ownership since the French Revolution in 1791, continues to produce amazing red Burgundy to this day. Drinking Bouchard’s 2012 Beaune Grèves Vigne de l’Enfant Jesus is practically a religious experience.
It’s the essence of Pinot Noir in all its naked purity: a phenomenally intense nose of raspberries, white plums, pomegranate, molasses, and Anjou pear deliver an exceptional olfactory experience, the kind that fills the room with its intensity. Here is a wine that almost makes you want to not drink it in order to continue savoring its ever-changing aromatic complexity.
But drink it you shall, and further layers of divineness will be revealed: An unbelievably rich and seductive palate— but with focus and a frame—delivers the velvety-textured essence of Pinot Noir. Its poise and balance are amazing, seeming to effortlessly combine the confidence and muscle of Pommard with the silky suaveness of Volnay. Here is a Burgundy vineyard that puts many Grand Crus vineyards to shame. While tasty and delicious now, it will last for 40 more years in your cellar. The 2012 proves why Bouchard pours l’Enfant Jesus at tastings after all of their Grands Crus – it’s that monumental.
This Christmas (if you celebrate Christmas), put a little Baby Jesus in your life – with this marvelous Burgundy.
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