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Day 2 in Burgundy - Touring the Cote de Beaune




A view from the top; a feast for the eyes from the heights above Blagny



Thibault Morey was in typically relaxed mood when we arrived for a tasting of the wines of Domaine Morey-Coffinet at 09h00 this morning. Why shouldn't he be? His family own a beautiful house over large vaulted cellars (where one tastes the wine) high up in the town of Chassagne, from where emanate numerous cuvees of fabulous wines, white and red.

One the way to Chassagne I had been unable to avoid pulling over as and when photo-opportunities presented themselves, such was the ntense beauty of the crystal morning, the Côte glinting under blue skies and crisp early morning sunshine.

The vineyards are in variously denuded states. Some are still quite shaggy with greenery. Others contain skeletal vines, the only adornment of which are small unwanted clusters of fruit, something of which the enormous flocks of starlings are extremely grateful, no doubt. Still other vineyards are in an inbetween state, not yet dormant, yet not fully awake, their dozing taking those most autumnal colours: yellow, russet, even purple.

We tasted through the range at Morey-Coffinet, the early wines showing the charm and sheer hedonism that is, in some quarters, the watermark of this vintage. Up the quality spectrum, however, and things turned serious. The Chassagne 1er Cru Les Fairendes is again quite superb; a showstopper. And the Puligny Pucelles is showing every sign that the vineyard is maturing.

I went alone to my next rendezvous, not because my tasting buddy was uninterested in the domaine to which I was heading, it was simply that his family (wife and three small children) had been rambling 'round Chassagne for the duration of our Morey-Coffinet session and now required some attention.

Domaine Buisson-Charles in Meursault is making some of the most exciting Chardonnay wines to be found anywhere; and I mean, anywhere. God alone knows what would happen if this estate had access to some Montrachet fruit. Something would, I expect, blow. I tasted some of the most profound white wines I have ever had in a glass, limped liquids with a density of colour, aroma and flavour, supreme complexity and the utmost beauty. If you have any interest in the white wines of Meursault, Burgundy or, for that matter, fine white wine of any sort, you owe it to yourself to try these. I was simply staggered.

Lunch was taken with Tasting Buddy and family at the Auberge des Vignes on the RN74 by Volnay and very good it was, as ever.

Next visit was to Marc Colin, whose sons Damien and Joseph now run the estate. Lots of wine here: brilliant whites and reds from St Aubin, that Santenay from a 106-year-old vineyard that we offered last vintage (when it was a mere 105) and the more senior wines of Chassagne and Puligny. As at Morey-Coffinet there are some great value drinkers here, as well as a number of extremely complex and fascinating liquids for one's cellar.

Last visit of the day was to Remi Rollin in Pernand-Vergelesses. This is only my second visit here and, as last year, I was inspired. We (Tasting Buddy and I) started each coloured flight with an Hautes Côtes de Beaune and both red and white were wonderfully delicious. The village Pernand-Vergelesses that followed were both, red and white, profound, expressive and age-worthy. And things just got better and better from there. This is an exceptional source of Côtes de Beaune wines and I intend to offer them again this year.

And the whole day's tasting has been undertaken beneath the clearest autumn skies, the brightest sunshine. Crossing from Meursault to Puligny I suddenly noticed a collection of dwellings higher up the slope and we quickly worked out that it must be the Hameau de Blagny, to which neither TB nor myself had ever been. Having some time on our hands, we pointed the car's nose upslope and drove through Blagny (where the meagre soils produce white wines of great class) and continued up and over the shoulder of the hill. From those heights I snapped off a few photographs, one of which can be seen above.

What a day! What wines! Let's hope for more of the same tomorrow...
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