Bure Family Wines was founded by Valeri (Val) Bure and his wife Candace Cameron Bure. Valeri was a professional hockey player for a number of both Canadian and American hockey teams. Born in Moscow he eventually moved to North America to play hockey in 1991 and enjoyed an 11-year career in the NHL. He also played on two Russian Olympic winning hockey teams – winning both a bronze and a silver medal. He was not the first athlete in this family; his father Valdimir won 4 Olympic medals at three Olympics for Russia.
Candace is an actress most notable for her roll on the popular TV Show, Full House.
During his professional playing career Valeri traveled around the world and in tandem, developed an interest in food and wine. His veteran teammates with the Montreal Canadiens introduced him to wine and soon his cellar grew from a small collection to housing wines from his travels around the world. Collecting wine has become even more of a passion since he retired from the NHL in 2005.
During a trip to Napa Valley, he visited the beautiful estate winery of Chateau Boswell and met Josh Peeples (who we originally met with years ago to try the early Bure wines). Josh introduced the Bure’s to winemaker Luc Morlet who crafted a number of the Bure vintages. Bure’s current winemaker is Benoit Touquette (reference Realm Cellars).
Valeri looked for land for about 7 years before finding the right property. He wanted a site located on the west side of the valley but facing east (less late afternoon and evening sun exposure). The previous owner of what is now the Bure estate vineyard was at lunch with the Bure’s real estate agent, and he casually mentioned he might be interested in selling his property. The real estate owner called Valeri the next day to tell him. A year passed before the prior owner was finally ready to sell.
The Bure’s purchased a 2-acre hillside piece of land north of the town of St. Helena in 2012 which they use as a second home (their primary residence is in Malibu, Los Angeles). This property is located on coveted St. Helena bench-land, a part of the sub-appellation that is elevated from the valley floor at the edge of the Mayacamas mountain range. This is a premium vineyard neighborhood: neighbors include Colgin’s Tychson Hill Vineyard, Grace Family Vineyards, Revana Winery and Vineyard 29.
And while they source most of the grapes for their wines from premium parcels both in Napa and neighboring Sonoma County, an approximately 0.6 of an acre of Cabernet Sauvignon is planted on this tiny parcel (1,873 vines). It was originally planted in 2001 using bud wood from the Bosché clone obtained from Dick Grace, founder of Grace Family Vineyards.
The Bure’s produce several Cabernet Sauvignon bottlings; until 2017 they produced two white wines from Sonoma County: a Ritchie Vineyard designate Chardonnay and a white blend called Nuit Blanch.
The Bure philosophy is to produce carefully and thoughtfully crafted wines from exceptional vineyard sites. It is important to note that the Bure very limited production bottlings are balanced in their youth and remain balanced throughout their life.
The Bure 2017 Nuite Blanche (translates into French as ‘white night’) is a blend of 85% Sauvignon Blanc and 15% Sémillon. Its pretty bouquet includes aromas of honeycomb, baking spices, honeysuckle and citrus blossom. This wine is clean and crisp across the palate, featuring superb balance and excellent acidity. It shows a rounded and slight creamy texture and offers flavors of tangerine and mandarin.
The Bure white wines age very well. The 2013 Nuite Blanche is a testament to this (we tasted this wine 9 years post vintage). It is medium golden in color; the aromatics are engaging and include pineapple, honeycomb, caramel, lemon zest and a hint of hazelnut. The palate is about its depth of flavor, richness and texture. It offers a creamy mouth feel which is tempered nicely by a still bright acidity which continues to persist for some time on the finish.
Ritchie Vineyard is considered one of the most premium vineyards for Chardonnay and Pinot Noir in Sonoma County. The Bure 2016 Malena Ritchie Creek Chardonnay (Sonoma County) is medium gold in color; the aromatics are highly appealing and include aromas of crème Brule, walnut skin, orange marmalade and caramel. As it opens it shows aromas of apricot and peach. This wine offers a creamy texture complemented nicely with its lively acidity. The palate offers a diversity of flavor including of mango and papaya, mandarin and toasted hazelnut. The finish is long and richly flavored. This impressive bottling (we tasted 6 year post vintage) is a wine that one simply cannot put down once they start drinking.
The 2014 Bure Malena Ritchie Creek Chardonnay is noticeably golden amber in the glass. The bouquet offers a diverse aromatic spread including notes of hazelnut, almond, honeysuckle, hints of butter and baking spices. Immediately intriguing is the wine’s texture; it is almost saline, oily and briny and offers a noticeable viscosity and suppleness across the palate. But the texture is complemented very nicely with brightness of fruit and acidity. Flavors of lemon lime linger and a resulting brightness linger on the finish for quite some time. This bottling has held up very well 6 years after vintage date (at the time of our tasting). And the name for this Chardonnay, Malena, was derived from combining the first two letters of each of the Bure children’s names: Maksim, Lev and Natasha.
The 2012 Bure Thirteen named in honor of the number 13 worn by Valeri during his professional hockey career. This wine was sourced from several premium vineyards including one near Dominus Winery in Yountville and the other from arguably the most famous vineyard site in the country, To Kalon in the heart of the Oakville sub appellation. The bouquet is layered with aromas of tobacco, leather, a hint of green pepper and a sweetness of cassis and rhubarb. Offers flavors of dark cherry and blackberry with a noticeable density and concentration. We tasted this bottling eight years after vintage; the tannins while showing good grip were not course or heavy. It lingers juicy with excellent acidity.
A typical production from their tiny estate vineyard is 10 barrels but after carefully selecting only the best lots, they usually only bottle between 6-8 barrels of this wine each year (150 to 200 cases). After fermenting the grapes from their inaugural vintage, Valeri was immediately impressed with the aromatics of the young wine. He wondered if there was something they could do the next year to replicate its aromatic nirvana. It turns out, there was nothing he needed to do; after smelling subsequent vintages, he realized it was the combination of their particular Cabernet Sauvignon clone and the site which consistently produced these beautiful aromatics.
The 2019 Bure Estate Cabernet Sauvignon is dark ruby/purple and almost opaque in the glass; the bouquet is seductive with a beautiful union of floral and fruit aromatics including of violets, blueberry, boysenberry and mulberry. As the bouquet evolves in the glass it reveals additional subtle scents of mint/wintergreen and a hint of clove. The aromas are about the purity of the fruit with the oak being a subtle complementary characteristic rather than a distracting one. This bottling offers layers of darker fruit flavors including of plum and cherry. A noteworthy aspect about this wine is its textural feel; the tannins are dense, dusty and earthy but surprisingly well resolved in their youth (we tasted this bottling only 3 years post vintage). One wine writer said this wine won’t age well because of its absence of tannins. He was wrong; their estate wine always produces a similar amount of high tannins each year.
The 2016 Bure Estate Cabernet Sauvignon shows berry fruits on the bouquet including blueberry and blackberry; the aromatics are ripe showcasing the purity of fruit yet also simultaneously elegant. Notes of violets. Supple and smooth across the palate, this wine is concentrated but without the heavy grip of tannins. Fine grained. Noteworthy for its balance. This bottling is also somewhat savory on the palate and has a very long life ahead of it.
The Bure’s Majesty’s blend is named as a tribute to Valeri’s family connection to the royal Russian family. The Bure family were originally from Switzerland; they were invited by the Russian Czar and the royal family to craft premium watches for the royal family including Valeri’s great grandfather. The Bure’s did so for more than 100 years for Russian tsars including Nicholas II who was wearing one of their watches when he was executed in 1918.
A Bure label was stamped on every watch produced; architect, designer and artist Michael Roché slightly altered the Bure label for use on their wine bottles. A hockey stick is clutched in one of the bird’s talons and an image of a watch in the other. This is a nice tribute to both Valeri’s long career as well as to his grandfather for his renowned watches.
The 2006 Bure Family Majesty’s Blend is a blend of 85% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14% Cabernet Franc and 1% Merlot. The majority of the fruit for this wine came from the cooler Coombsville growing region east of the town of Napa. This bottling offers notes of earthiness, dustiness and cigar smoke on the bouquet. This wine is extremely soft up front with plenty of fruit including blackberry and black cherry along with a slight kiss of vanilla. The dustiness that shows on the bouquet picks up again towards the finish. The tannins are well structured yet are in balance. This wine has bright fruit and lively acidity and will continue to evolve nicely with additional aging.
The best way to acquire these very limited production wines is to join their wait list to be added to their membership list as nearly all their wines are sold direct to consumer, although one can find select wines at the French Laundry in Yountville. For more information, visit: www.burefamilywinery.com