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More Than One Frisson

Oppressively lovely weather in the vineyards of Maranges

I had the luxury of being picked up from my hotel at 08h30 yesterday morning. Emma's family have for years represented some of Burgundy's finest domaines in the UK and she was to lead me through a day of tasting. We drove five minutes down the road, at which point I then had the luxury of being driven back to my hotel to fetch my tasting book. Getting towards the end of my tasting week; brain not fully engaged.

In the sort of weather you see in the photograph above, we headed south through the Côte de Beaune to the village of Maranges, to where I had never been before. It's a pretty, working village, not exactly bustling, but having a sense of purpose.

We visisted the Domaine Bachelet-Monnot and here two young Bachelet brothers have started to create a fast spreading frisson of excitement with their wines.

Together, they talk you through the range, sometimes stopping each other with a bit of lighthearted fraternal legpulling and the odd suggestion that what the other had said wasn't strictly accurate. Their wine making efforts, however, create something(s) of extraordinary harmony.

I am not over-familiar with the wines of Maranges, but from the line-up, red and white, that we tasted (and that I am hoping to offer in due course) my interest has been thoroughly piqued. They buy fruit in Puligny and Chassagne, too, as well as Bâtard-Montrachet. Holy smokes! I cannot with great honesty say that I tasted wines much better than this - certainly at these prices - all trip. They are in great demand. Parker's been here and the news has been broken to the world. I will beg an allocation if I can.

Up the road, we stopped for photo opportunities and what opportunities! Aside from the photograph above, I will publish others in due course.

From Maranges, we coasted through golden vines under a ceiling of cobalt sky etched with the white chalk marks of vapour trails. Gerard Boudot, genius of the Domaine Etienne Sauzet, awaited us in Puligny.

I cannot here put into words the exquisite beauty of what we tasted. It was like sitting down at table with seraphim. There are a handful of great names in the Cote de Beaune - Domaines Leflaive, Ramonet, Carillon - and Sauzet is not the least of that illustrious gang by any means. Boudot's kind with his time, intimately knowledgeable about his vineyards and, for those keen to learn, a purveyor of concentrated chunks of rich information. Will not this visit shadow the rest of the day, I ask myself as we drove away from Puligny? Well, no. Variety, as we know, is a tonic.

We visited Francois Jobard next and if any domaine can serve to follow Sauzet with aplomb, this is it. The style has changed in recent years. This used to be a source of amazing whites wines that were undrinkable for 15 years or more. Now - without losing intensity - the quality is clear to see. Wow!

Next to Michelot. An utterly different style here. Clean, pure; lacking no sort of expression. User-friendly's the wrong way to put it, but they are very, very delicious and offer extraordinary value.

And lastly, to visit Jean-Pierre Charlot at the Domaine Joseph Voillot in Volnay. It was, I think, Allen Meadows who described these as red burgundies for those who love Riesling. Let me explain. Jean-Pierre is a master. His wines etch a) beautiful fruit and b) clearly defined terroir onto one's palate. They are sculptures in Pinot. And they are utterly beautiful. Sort of red Rieslings, then.

We stopped for a glass of wine with Emma's dad at Le Montrachet, that starred restaurant-with-rooms in Puligny and from there headed into town to grab some food at Bisoh, the Japanese eatery in Beaune to which I had been a couple of nights before and to which I was more than happy to be returning.

I rose early this morning and set off for Geneva. Much of the drive was undertaken in mist, with denser patches of fog. Then, as I climbed into the hills of the Haute-Savoie, the air cleared and autumn-coloured vistas opened up. Viaduct-tunnel-viaduct-tunnel and then the nightmare of having to drop the hire car back at the virtually inaccessible French side of the airport.

Home again, with Chardonnay and Pinot aromas haunting my tired mind. Supper calls; supper and bed.
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