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A Lucky Meeting and Another Glittering Day




Chassagne and yet more sunshine





Last night I wandered into town - mercifully close - to seek out a venue for dinner. I was hungry, having had a roll and a yoghurt for breakfast and a meagre filling station sandwich for lunch. The closest opportunity was presented by Bisoh, one of Beaune's two Japanese eateries.

Seated at the bar, I was about to whip out a paperback and start reading (knowing this would only serve to emphasise the Norman No-Mates effect, but caring not one jot) when a pair of friendly faces appeared - both belonging to ex work colleagues - and invited me to join them. What luck!

We drank some interesting wine, too. The first was a white 1er Cru St Aubin from the Montceau vineyard and made by Marc Colin. I tasted this from cask last year; had found it to be excellent. Alas, it was like sucking lemons sprinkled with talcum powder. It will be very good in another year or so, but we didn't finish it.

I chose the red and having just been to visit Benoit at the Chateau de Chorey, I was interested to see how his 2001 Beaune 1er Cru Les Cras was drinking. The answer? Fabulously well; a light-bodied and delicious burgundy in full maturity.

We continued to chat and decided that champagne was in order and what an extraordinary bottle we picked out: Clos des Caudalies from De Souza. This is a super-dry Blanc de Blancs that spent nearly three years on its lees. Packed with flavour, this is a wine to drink as the French do i.e. with food.

I rose this morning to a Beaune again bathed in bright sunshine. Driving around the Cote today has been a real pleasure. The trees are fabulously bright in their autumn plumage, the vineyards coloured yellow and shades of olive green as the vines start thinking about bedding down for winter.

Drouhin-Laroze, Jean Grivot and Maison Champy this morning, Morey-Coffinet and Digioia-Royer this afternoon.

The Drouhin-Laroze wines are lovely, pure and full of profound terroir. Etienne Grivot's are nothing short of spectacular. He compares the vintage to 1993 which sounds like mad salespeak until one actually tries what he's made. As ever, they have an extra bit of everything.

At Champy I tasted a small range of their lesser wines and save for a slightly awkward Bourgogne Blanc everything was really impressive. This vineyard-owning negociant (if that makes sense!) is going from strength to strength. I will look forward to tasting their more senior wines in due course.

At Morey-Coffinet young Thibault Morey took me through a range of white wines that glittered like the afternoon sun, or the light of a hundred bulbs twinkling in a lime and chalk chandelier. I must say that I find the soils of Chassagne fascinating, perhaps more so that those of Puligny next door.

Finally, an ill-planned blast north back up to Chambolle to visit M Digioia. A visit here gives one the opportunity to taste various wines several times each, each sample drawn from a different barrel, each barrel made by a different cooper from different oak. Beautiful, beautiful Chambolle here.

Now back in the hotel and very much looking forward to my dinner. I wonder if I've any chance of finding more friends with whom to eat.

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