Arrived in Burgundy today for a quick trip and thought I'd share some observations "on the fly" - so here is the pretty much unedited daily update - We arrived in Paris in the snow - wish Kath was here - can't be anything much more romantic than Paris a la neige, can there? In any case got our car (great little Ford I have never seen in the US - why don't we have the Euro models?) and headed south to Beaune to meet Olivier Daubresse and Pascal Maillard for a "wet lunch" and proper welcome to Burgundy. Quick check in at at our hotel to freshen up and a quick glass of Aloxe Corton Blanc 2007 Maillard: a lovely palate cleansing aperitif and perfect after a whole day of work yesterday, an overnight flight, and a 3 hour drive in snow from Paris to Beaune. Now we are ready for lunch!
Drove from the hotel to Le Chassagne and what a start to the trip! We began with Jean Marc Morey Chassagne Caillerets 2006: gold-ish rich and ripe, served with a trio of mouthwatering amuse bouches, followed by a first course of pureed winter root vegetables, savory thin sliced smoked duck, silver dollar sized floating fois gras (what else?), and a little toasty crostini - warming, satisfying, delicious and perfect on a cold winter's day. Quite noticeable was that JB's alarm went off during this course reminding us that we were enjoying this incredible lunch when the majority of our eastern US compatriots were just rubbing the sleep from their eyes - it made the long trip sooo worth it - breakfast of champions!
Next course began with a mystery wine that turned out to be a Gagnard Delegrange Chassagne Montrachet Blanc 1985 - Evolved, past primary fruit stage: nuts, acacia, wild flower honey, mature yet with freshness and focus. We all guessed about 5+ years too young, and higher pedigree too, thinking it must be good premier cru. Shared a bite of Oliviers meltingly silky, rich fois gras terrine and my own Rieullette of crab with salmon caviar and petite micro greens, both superb.
Next course started blind with Maillard Chorey Les Beaune 2007, brought by Pascal - beautiful aromatics of fresh crushed cherries and an hint of herbs - lavender? Mid weight, lithesome and fresh. Served with braised oxtail, super tender, with mushrooms sauteed in butter and parsley and a sauce of reduced wine, cherries (?) shallots that had a sweet/sour acidity that really complimented the wine and kept the rich meat lively. Finally brillat savarin in toasted three level dainty, crisp dark bread w/truffle oil somewhere and lovely greens lightly coated in a delicate vinaigrette. No dessert just a quick coffee and off to Lamy Pillot
At Lamy Pillot, Daniel apologized for the mess as they were preparing for the upcoming St Vincent festival at the end of the month. The winery entrance was strewn with huge Alice in Wonderland-like "forest floor" theme props: mushrooms, snails, all cartoon like and really well done. (Did we over do it at lunch or is that a dog sized escargot over there?) The celebration is quite an event, with tens of thousands of people coming to eat drink and make merry. In the old days you paid your dues, got your glass and had carte blanche to drink as much as you could. Apparently the powers that be had to clamp down and sell attendees a glass and packet of 6 or 7 tickets, each good for a taste of wine. This measure was adopted after wholesale drinking resulted, rumor has it, in 50 cases of alcohol induced coma one year. Not to worry, Daniel assures me that they didn't limit the number of glass/ticket packages one can buy!
Without too much drudgery, heres the list of wines tasted at Lamy Pillot - a very impressive line up with strong efforts in 2008 and especially in 2009 whites (the reds showing great potential but early days!) huge. More detailed notes to follow.
Tasted all of the following, most in both the 2008 and 2009 vintages: St Aubin Les pucelles, St Aubin Les Combes, Saint Aubin 1er Cru; Chassagne Montrachet Village, Clos St Jean, Grand Montagne, Morgeot, Caillerets, La romanee 2008 and Le Montrachet. And in the reds in 2008 and 09 vintges: St. Aubin Argilieres, Les castet; Chassagne Village, Boudriottes, Morgeot and ending with a lovely 1989 St Aubin Argillieres to wrap up. Quick stop at Bzkot in Puligny to say hello, tasted 2008 Bourg Blanc, 2008 ac puligny Montrachet - Stoney fullish classy beautiful and 2008 Rouselle (sp?)
Dinner at Le petit paradis in Beaune, quite good! Drank Rapet 2007 Prnand Vergelesses 1er Cru Le clos de village blanc and 1986 (!) Lamy Pillot Chassagne Morgeot blanc - en magnum. Still tight, evolved but racy even. Mature but fresh lovely and complex - merci! Reds included Volnay 1990 caillerets and 1991 St. Aubin Castets - youthful ruby red. A busy but excellent day!
Down to Earth Wine is about what I love in the wine biz: small growers making honest wines that are the expression of the vineyards, grapes and people where they are made. It is about learning about why wines taste the way they do and delving beyond the numerical scores that have become a shorthand for knowledge. It's looking at wine from the ground up.
To me, the most amazing thing about wine is its ability capture and express the conditions of the time and place where they were grown. I find that in my 30 years involved with wine that the best wines are often the result of a philosophy of winemaking that believes that these natural influences should be the main story, creating wines with transparency, elegance, balance and finesse that allows the nature in the wine to shine though.
To help navigate the posts, they are categorized by type, and now include Vignettes: thoughts and musings on regions, travels, dinners and experiences; Cellar Defenders: favorite value wines; Vins de garde: Wine for the cellar; and Vins Vert, great organic, Biodynamic and naturally made wines.
Taste, travel, experiment, enjoy!