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First Day in Burgundy




Etienne Grivot on sparkling form as we taste his 2009 vintage




I flew into Geneva from London City airport last evening and what an excellent service. City airport is easily accessible via the DLR and inside is quiet and a quite reasonable place to while away an hour or so as one waits to depart.

Having learnt from experience, I collected a hire car from the Swiss side of the airport; I struggled to find the French side last time and nearly missed my flight. So, I am travelling 'round Burgundy in a French car with Swiss plates and a SatNav that (probably more than adequately) covers Switzerland, Austria and Germany, but not the country in which I currently find myself, sad to say.

My hotel is a couple of miles outside Beaune "on the plain", as they say and it's pretty and clean, but the beds - at least mine - are covered with mattresses too skinny for me, pillows too lean for my travel weary head. I didn't sleep as well as I would have liked and the morning hit me in the face like a medicine ball on the motorway.

Started the day in Volnay with Michel Lafarge and what a way to round off breakfast. In this dingy, webby cellar extraordinary wines are born into the world. Heaven.

Jean-Marc Boillot came next. This domaine makes an even mix of red and white wine, but it is for their whites that they are largely - and justifiably - celebrated. The reds have a blue cast to them and yes, they are quite extracted. The whites are charming, expressive, complex and profound.

A friend and I then arrived at the Domaines A-F Gros and Francois Parent and there had been something of a midunderstanding, as their main cellars, housing their 2009 and 2010 wines in barrel, are in Beaune, and we were at their domaine in Pommard.. Not too much of a problem, as we tasted bottled wines from the '07 and '08 vintages before retiring for lunch.

Afetr lunch we got to have a look at the A-F Gros/Parent 2009 vintage and very delicious the wines were too.

A visit to Domaine Grivot in Vosne-Romanee is always a high point of my Burgundy week, such is the skill of Etienne, a skill that appears to grow year-on-year. What a range! I commented that one wine was showing firm acidity and Etienne explained that today's weather - bright and very windy - was agitating the wines, as was low pressure. He said this and added, " It's the same with women", although whether he meant that women agitate wine, or wind agitates women, I know not.

I finished up at the domaine of Philippe and Vincent Lecheneaut in Nuits St Georges. I had never been before, but had read good things about what they're doing, so requested an audience. I tasted about 20 wines here. They are quite modern in style - deep in colour, creamy of fruit - and I liked them. I will offer a few...if I can get some, that is.

Feeling jaded after a day of hard tasting. Will sign off, head for the bistro for a late dinner and then sleep the sleep of the needy.
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