Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Bourgogne day 5

Hi all,

Tuesday was our last taste day in Bourgogne. We wanted to start at Vougeot as we didn't see any other wineries in Vougeot.



Grandes Caves de Laforet - Vougeot

Well, this was quite interesting. I wander if the clerk was high : after making a rendezvous and after putting the alarm clock to wake up in time, when we arrived and we asked as usual that we would like to do a wine tasting (degustation de vins) like we did every other place, the clerk said that they do not do a wine-bar and that they only do degustation for people who want to buy wine. I have no doubt on my French , as I 100% sure it is native, so I explained again that yes, we usually do buy wine but before we buy any we would like to taste it to see what we are buying. He then repeated himself again that they are not a wine bar, that they do not serve by the glass and we should go see a bar. So I have no idea what was going through his little brain but we left as even if I managed to clarify on the 3rd attempt I have no reason to give them (which looked like a perfectly ordinary wine merchant in fact !) my business. So that was that.
So instead we came back to Beaunes where I spend a nice time tasting wine.

Atheneum  - Beaunes

So I went back , the 2nd time during the visit, to the Atheneum, where thanks to the Coravin system I was able to taste all kind of wines that no other wine shop will let us. I really like that places , their sales people were always very nice and they really have a diverse extensive wine tasting collection and they are very willing to work with you. My objective was of course to try wines from regions where I couldn't otherwise and I did end up with 2 bottles of Gevry-Chambertin.

Maison Maurice - Beaunes

And then on the way back to the hotel I stopped by Maison Maurice. Also a very sympathetic owner who had nothing opened for a degustation so instead he let me pick what I wanted to try and we worked out a nice tasting menu of 4 wines, 2 whites and 2 reds. Also left with 8 bottles :) I did find the Pommard 1er Cru to be a little expensive and I was a little surprised by the 87 euro price on it but I hope it will be good. I may have 2nd thoughts on that one.

Bourre in Gevrey-Chambertin

And last but not least I wanted to make sure I try some wines from Gevrey , Chambertin and that most northern region of "la Cote d'Or" which I hadn't had the occasion yet. I had left Tuesday afternoon free so that I could , upon seeing the how the previous days go, adapt and schedule what I needed to complete my tour. And using the online Hachette Wine Guide website, I selected the mauson Bourre, where I got a hold of the owner on the phone at the 1st attempt and he was available for a degustation. The owner, Bernard, reminded me of Blair from the Dublere winery. He is the 5th generation running the Bourre winery. His oncle-aunt were the Bourre and they had no kids so he took over and his boys will take over from him. They do not grow much, they buy grapes, but they make a lot of different wines. They have a list of about 25 reds and maybe 20 whites they make or maybe even more. They have wines from everywhere.
We first spent about 30 minutes talking about us to get to know each other more which I though was a great approach. Then we proceeded to the cellar to try wines from the barrel , the 2013 vintage. This was only the 2nd place where we tried from the barrel instead of from the bottle and I asked if this is because he has no more bottles to sell like Dublere, and he said no, that's not the case. I wasn't going to complain of course, as this is the real wine professional tasting : taste from the barrel , spit on the grownd in the cellar and pour the last few drops back in the barrel to make sure we don't lose any !
So here we tried some village, some 1er Cru and 1 Grand Cru, the Chambertin. Bernard explained that after the Romanee-Conti wines the Chambertin Grand Cru , on average, is considered the next level.
I did leave from here with 10 bottles among which some really interesting ones . 2 Chassagne-Montrachet I liked a lot, 2 whites that are just village for 23 euros but are next door to the famous Corton-Charlemagne white Grand Cru, and of course 2 Chambertin Grand Cru which at 120 Euros a bottle I found worth the deeper investigation. I tried the Chambertin Grand Cru 2013 from the barrel so I am now very curious to try the 2007 and such of all these wines.


Again ! Yes, well we wanted to visit the Marche aux Vins. When we went to Napa we ran into a shop where only the accountant, pregnant, was present. And guess what ? She opened the shop for us and she had us try the wines and she opened a good 10 bottles for us. Here ? Well even if the shop closes at 7pm, the last tasting is at 5:30 pm, and yes, they do not care that we leave tomorrow and can not come back. Yes, the acknowledged that they have the glasses and bottles in front of them. It was also true that it was 6:15 so we had a god 45 minutes to try their 10 wines , and that would be enough time but ... you know, why be nice when one can follow a stupid rule that gives you less work? I mean I don't think they care much. So we got also sorry for their asses and went back to the Atheneum. Here we tried a very nice 2011 which wasn't cheap around 60 euros but really nice. But most importantly our friends were able to taste and buy the wines they wanted despite the Marche aux Vins embargo  ! The Marché au Vins missed on about 350 euros of business there...

And thus finished our trip in Bourgogne. I have to say that by the end I felt like my taste buds were sticking out and are burned and during dinner the only thing I wanted was not a Pinot-Noir but more a Cab Sauv. Luckily enough the Gourmandin served us a beautiful Chianti which I loved.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Bourgogne Day 4

Hi all,

Monday was a really interesting day where we focused mostly on proprietaires-exploitants.



Dublere in Savigny-les-Beaunes.

Dublere is an ex American journalist who when working from London in the 80s grew into liking Bourgogne so much that he decided to move here 20+ years ago and start his own wine making facility.
He describes himself as a farmer, as he says that 85% of his time is in the vineyard and that the vineyard makes the wine.
He is the 1st wine maker we met who only had 2013 vintage to taste, and we did a tasting from the barrels as he sells his production in the bottle nearly in full every year. He only had to sell a few (10 or so bottles) from only some of his wines and vintages.
Here we tried maybe 5 Grand Cru , about 10 1er Cru and 5 or so other wines. He explained really well all our questions about vineyard regulations and so on. He has wines from a lot of different appelations. It was really probably the most interesting visit. Usually he doesn't take visitors but thanks to the introduction from my friend Toshi from La Nuit Blanche in Ginza we were able to visit.
We bought about 1 case here, among which some grand cru, Corton I think.
It is pleasant and impressive to see what an American business man can do in 20 years starting small. He does about 35,000 bottles per year now. For example one of his main buyers is the Gordon Ramsey restaurant chain.
Unfortunately also he explained that in Bourgogne they use to have hail every other year only but for the last 4 years they had hail, and bad one, every year. His production for 2014 in some places is only 30% of the normal amount.

Fribourg in Villers-La-Faye

In the afternoon we visited a domaine in Villers-la-Faye which is over the hills in the Hautes Cotes de Nuits appellation. The domaine is a small house and they focus on the Hautes Cotes and such. We tried a few wines from this appelations and we bought some reds that we found pleasant. It was interesting to compare wines in the 10-20 euro range with the ones we tried that morning.

Thibert - Corgoloin

And at 4pm we went to another very family oriented domaine where Mr. Thibert who lives in a house that looks like any other house down the street took us through the garage, through a little working space in to a wine cellar that looked very old. He seems to be really small and doing everything himself. He's been doing it for 25 years as he explained and focused on Nuits-St-Georges. I did not know what to expect and the 1st wines were just ok, but the 4rd and last one, a 1er Cru from memory, was one of our favorites. He explained that because Pinot Noir is so low in tannis one can and should, on the more elegant climats, extract as much as possible from the skins. So as a result one can get a wine with deep black aromas and very interesting that will age very well. I look forward to trying it in the US and also seeing how it will age for a while.


Sunday, December 28, 2014

Bourgogne Day 3

Hi all,

Today was a quieter day, given it was Sunday.

The plan was to focus on the southern part, Pommard and Meursault.
On the way to the Chateau de Pommard, which is open non stop all day, and has free tasting, we ended up stopping at the Nuiton-Beaunoy winery and tasting room.



Nuiton-Beaunoy between Beaunes et Pommard

They are next to the highway but while we were there we saw quite a few locals come in and just buy 6+ bottles of wine.
We tried about 10 of their wines. Despite their marketing saying they specialize in Hautes Cotes de Nuits I didn't find that to be true at all.
They will have you try pretty much any of the wines they have on the least, about 25 + wines. We picked and chose and tried some Hautes Cotes, some Village, some 1er Cru and even 2 Grand Cru.
A very nice place to see a large diversity. They are a federation of 88 wine makers so they have a lot of products.
We did leave with 2 of the Grand Cru, 2 of the Monopole they have , 2 1er Cru in White and 2 Monthelie.
Their 2 Grand Cru, both red, are interesting. We loved the Corton but their second one was very animal, very strange, and more expensive (maybe due to its uniqueness).

Chateau de Pommard

 Then we did make it to the Chateau de Pommard. We didn't take the visit but went straight for the wines tasting. It was free and the taster was really nice but he seemed to not care much about order or talking about the wines. He served us straight the 1er Cru they had in White , which we didn't like too much, and then the 2008 Pommard prestige before we could even discuss trying other whites.
We had to discuss a little bit and we setup some tasting order which he then respected.
But overall we didn't buy anything , unfortunately we didn't like the reds ( especially a red had a very strange nose). So overall we were quite disappointed by the Chateau de Pommard wines despite the nice environment.
We then had lunch 2 minutes walking downtown Pommard. We didn't try any more wines there but we had the Delagrange Pommard 1er Cru at the "Le Pommard" restaurant. And we liked this Pommard red so much ( a lot of spices and black fruits) that we left with bottles from the restaurant.

Gauffroy in Meursault

And last but not least today we had an appointment in Mersault, with a Proprietaire-Recoltant , the Gauffroy family, downtown Mersault.

Meursault is extremely charming, authentic and worth a drive around but the construction changed a lot of things and it is very hard to find anything as google is confused on some one way streets.
But we did find it, and Mme Gauffroy , who's father established the winery probably more then 100 years ago, welcomed us. She was extremely friendly and helped us taste their Meursault Village white and red and their Meursault Les Charmes 1er Cru and their 1er Cru in Red also.
We absolutely adored the whites which were extremely cheap (14 euro and 18 euro, so we got 3 of each). The Meursault Village red had an amazing nose but the body at the very end had a little yeast taste I do not like much, so we decided to skip that one, unfortunately.
We talked a lot with Mme Gauffroy , native French helps certainly, and she gave us the inside out of the difference between tastings wines at "negociants" vs " proprietaries-recoltants". Her view was that wines will be much cheaper and better quality when tried and bought at the winery ("proprietaries recoltants) then at the wine merchants ( negociants). Unfortunately given the time of the year most proprietaires are on vacation and so far we only met the 3 :
Natalie Vigot in Vosne Romanee
Fam. Gavinet in Nuits-Saint-Georges
And of course Fam. Gauffroy.
But tomorrow and Tuesday we are doing proprietaires only !


Visiting Bourgogne day 1 and 2

Hi all,

Just keeping notes as we go so that I don't get completely lost at the end.
Visiting Bourgogne between Christmas and New Years is far from being ideal, as many wineries are on vacation, but we make do by actually calling the wine makers and speaking to them in French on the phone.

In all cases our hotel in Beaunes, le Cep , is maybe among the best we ever stayed at. The quality of the services is unbelievable and it is very well located. We can only recommend it. And the restaurant next door, l'Oiseaux des Vignes, is also amazing, both for the food and the wine  : they serve 70 wines by the glass, all 1er Cru and higher !



L'Oiseau des Vignes

Dinner at l'Oiseau des vignes, clos sommelier Tomy Germaneau had a great PRESTIGE 5 wine selection. He also recommended we visit :
Domaine Jean Noel Gagnard, 9 places des Noyers 21190 a Chassagne-Montrachet.
Also Domaine Marc Colinet Fils , 9 rue de la Chateniere 21190 a St. Aubin.
They were both closed until Jan :(



Delagranges in Beaunes

Delagranges (centre Beaunes, proprietes a Mersault) : mostly Volnay in red I think. Volnay Clos du Village , monopole, and Volnay 1er Cru les Caillerets.

Atheneum in Beaunes

Atheneum : wine shop, use a Coravin, tried all kind of amazing wines, 10+, left with Grands Cru Clot Vougeot, the Pulligny-Montrachet La Velle , Vendenges Botyrisees Michel ....

La P'tite Cave

La P'tite Cave , centre Beaunes aussi. Here tried a few wines and bought some Mercuray. Very nice , Bouhin Stephanie, recommended I talk to to Domaine d'Ardhuy , Clos des Langres, 21700 Corgoloin , 03 80 62 98 73. But they are closed until Jan :(
Afternoon :

Natalie Vigot in Vosne Romanee

Visited domaine Natalie Vigot in Vosne Romanee. Pick up in office du tourisme. She has 1 hec (10,000 sq m) but only cultivates 1800 sq m in Vosne Romanee Village and 1800 sq m in Vosne Romanee 1er Cru. Her lot is a little higher on the hill and very close to Romanee Conti, of course. Got some 1er Cru , 3 bottles, of 2 different years. At 45 Euro they look like a good deal. She makes a living from this little winery and does everything herself.

Jacques Francois in Nuits-Saint-Georges

On the way back to Beaune stopped at the wine shop Jacques Francois in Nuits-Saint-Georges. Tried some Marsannay, and bought some Marsannay from Roty winery. Also some Bousselots Les Saint Georges, 1er Cru, et Nuits St Georges Village Christophe Chevaux.




On Friday skipped caves Patriarches, I hope to go back maybe.
But had a very nice lunch in Beaunes where I had a Maranges , La Fussiere 1er Cru.
In the afternoon did 3 wineries :
Caveau Moillard , also center Nuits-Saint-Georges. Had some amazing Chassagne-Montrachet, white of course. Then tried a few reds but only really liked the Hautes Cotes de Nuits red, which was very rich in Cassis , even maybe Cassis gem. The interesting part is that here you can self-tour the winery facilities.


Then I drove around and randomly ran into domaine Gavinet. Since 1880 , in Nuits St George, for 4 or 5 generations. They do their wine as 3 family members. They had a nice selection but I didn't like it much. 1 white, Haute Cote de Nuits et 4 reds, among which a Grand Cru. I didn't try the Grand Cru, but the rest were very well priced but I didn't like them too much, just bought 3 bottles of Nuits St George Village at 15 euro each. I wish I could have tried the Grand Cru :)


And the last visit of the day was the Domaine Dufouleur, also downtown Saint Georges. They are part of a large family , their branch sells the wine and their cousins make it. They have it staged for visitors, and have a cute tasting room. Upfront they will only offer to taste the 4 cheapest options of wines in the region : Hautes Cotes de Nuit , Red and White, and Nuits St George Village red and white and only 1 Nuits St George 1er Cru. We also got to try a Volnay les Caillerets 1er Cru 2006 which happened to be open. However, all these "cheaper" wines were all 2008 or about 6 years old and we were very surprised by the quality, once again mostly by the whites. So we left with a case of the Nuits St George Village white and a few bottles of the Volnay and Nuits St George 1er Crus.
Today, we have plans for Chateau de Pommard, Domaine Gauffroy et peut etre le Marche aux Vins a Beaunes.