Burgundy Visit - Easter 2007
DWS seems to be blessed with sunny weather. After last year’s golden April in the Southern Rhone our return visit to the Côte d’Or began as it was to continue in unseasonably warm, clear weather, marred only by the last minute absence through illness of stalwart and former organiser John Howard, and consequently Barbara and their (and our) friend Eileen Price. We assembled at our base hotel L’Ouvrée in Savigny les Beaune. It is a tradition in the village that hotels, bars and restaurants do not put tables outside until May, but as the patron, Alain Pierrat had told us that the vines were three weeks were ahead of what they should be, he was persuaded that the same should apply to his terrace, where we met for a pre-dinner Kir Royal and the usual unnecessary introduction from the organiser. Dinner was a very good five courses of Burgundian specialities and wines from Savigny and Gevrey Chambertin.
The first visit on Thursday was to the only repeat from 2000. It was to Domaine Fougeray de Beauclair at Marsannay la Côte. The proprietor, our old friend Patrice Ollivier, was, we thought , somewhat preoccupied with his forthcoming extension, but nevertheless there was an excellent tasting of his wines – and a Picpoul de Pinet from his father-in-law Jean Louis Fougeray’s estate in the South. Notable among Patrice’s wine was a tank sample of the 2005 Grand Cru Bonne Mare. Lunch was al fresco in the main pedestrianised street in Nuits St Georges.
A further drive north brought us to Fixin and the tiny but beautiful winery of Claudine Moine-Champy, oenologist, “Dame de l’Ordre des Dames du Vin et de la Table” representing Burgundy and a leading light in the “Femmes en Vin de Bourgogne” Claudine runs her 4’5 hectares in Fixin and Gevrey Chambertin with the aid of a nephew (and numerous cats!) . The Fixin “Champs de Charmes” and the Gevrey “Les Evocelles” were particularly well liked. Some of us even bought her “Bourgogne Passe Tous Grains”.
The third visit was just along the Routes des Grands Crus to Gevrey Chambertin and the highly rated Domaine Lucien Boillot. Boillot is a well known name in the Côte de Beaune but Lucien Boillot moved to Gevrey while keeping vines in Pommard and its neighbours. The estate is now run by Lucien’s son Pierre and his wife Sophie. They have no fewer than nine premier crus. We tasted a wide range of wines, both from barrel and bottle.
On returning we linked up, by the magic of a speaker on a mobile phone, with John Howard, who, in his absence, has donated sparkling wine to toast Barbara’s birthday.
On Friday we left early for the attractive village of St. Romain and a visit to Tonnellerie François Frères, one of the leading barrel making companies in the world. Arnaud, our guide for the visit, explained all aspects of barrel making from the splitting of the staves to the finished product. Then down the hill to Henri et Gilles Buisson for an excellent tasting of this under rated appellation (and some of the family’s wines from other villages). Tom, our American member, who had once more flown from Seattle was particularly, excelled in his probing questions. Buying wine was delayed because of a total failure of a major credit card company’s system.
This delayed our arrival at the impressive Château de Chassagne-Montrachet for lunch, with a tasting of no fewer than twelve wines from Michel Picard’s estate, preceded by a tour of the Château led by the charming Marie-Florence Grim.
Saturday’s journey was very short; just to the end of the visit. The wines of the Domaine du Prieuré have been a favourite of the organisers for many years so they felt that they had to include a visit to Jean-Michel Maurice’s winery as part of the tour. When the Havenhands first new the domaine Jean-Michel had been voted the best young winemaker in the area. His son, Stephen, was a schoolboy. Stephen, having spent some time in Australia, has joined his father as winemaker. As “Guide Hachette” says “This was one of our ‘Coups de Coeur’ and with Stephen returned from Australia and with his BTS (Brevet de Technicien Superièure) in his pocket, will maintain the honour of the Domaine. Father, mother and son greeted us and Stephen gave us a tour, including an explanation of viticulture in the Moutier Amet vineyard at the rear of the chais. Madame assisted with the tasting – a splendid tour d’horizon of the wines. A great many were bought (and delivered to the hotel that afternoon).
After the coach got lost in the village because the driver believed his satnav rather than the advice that the coach could not get down the Rue du Jarron we arrived at Parigot et Richard, leading makers of Cremant de Bourgogne. After unsteadily negotiating steep steps into the cellar and then the tasting room there followed another marathon tasting of some excellent wines, Afterwards some took the coach back to the hotel, others stayed in the village for lunch at the “New Rock Café”.
The traditional last night dinner was held at the Michelin Rosetted “Le Vieux Moulin” in Bouilland. The leisurely meal, accompanied by wines from Monsieur Maurice, was in the modern French style and was deemed excellent.
The trip ended on the Sunday morning as it has begun – in bright sunshine.