Bottles being gradually swallowed by the mould in Antoine Jobard's cellar
Writing this early Friday morning, as I didn't get back until late last night following a most enjoyable meal in Bissoh, one of two Japanese restaurants in Beaune. We'd broken for lunch earlier in the day and eaten a really pretty substantial lunch; most welcome as we were all pretty hungry after some intensive wine tasting.
The morning had started outisde my hotel, as I was picked up by Emma, whose family business represents some of the finest domaines of Burgundy. She whisked me south in comfort to the village of Maranges, there to taste the wines of the Domaine Bachelet-Monnot. The drive to Maranges offers the most fabulous vistas; last year we had stopped under cobalt skies and sunshine to admire the view and snap off some photographs. This time we were in too much of a hurry, but Cheilly-les-Maranges, lying in the valley to our left and wreathed in a light eiderdown of mist, was looking stunningly lovely.
The young Marc and Alex Bachelet are producing some quite fabulous wines in the south of Burgundy. We started with a Bourgogne Blanc that would knock most producer's village Puligny into a cocked hat and followed with profound wines from Maranges and then tasted up the Cote, finishing with a superb Batard-Montrachet. I am, apparently, not to ask for any of this latter wine. A refusal often offends...
It's not a long drive from Maranges to Meursault, but we accomplished it is record time. We were late and Tasting Buddy had been hanging about for some time in the gateway of the Domaine Francois et Antoine Jobard. We got stick in toot sweet. Antoinre's father used to make a style of white wine that was rather unforgiving, his Meursaults not being drinkable for a decade or more. Antoine has changed the style and, although these wines are now some of the best keepers around, they are also enjoyable in their youth. And what wines! These are concentrated, intense Chardonnays that glint like moonlight on steel across one's senses. We finished with a 1998 Meursault 1er Cru Les Genevrieres, a wine that came across as being years younger than it actually was, but showed all the elegance of the vineyard and quite beautiful fruit and structure. No hurry!
Joseph Voillot in Volnay was next. Jean-Pierre Charlot, wine maker, has been having problems with his knees and was hobbling on two crutches. He is, however, having no problem whatsoever with his wines, which are quite stunning in 2009. They are often stunning, it must be said. It is one of the travesties of my job that these wines are not bought by the pallet-load by Bowes Wine clients. They offer majestically beautiful fruit and are quite capable of lasting for decades. What, as they say, is not to like?
A quick lunch - the local dishes jambon persille followed by andouillette (the latter really pretty stinky) - and we sped off to Chassagne for a tasting at the Domaine Paul Pillot. Brilliant wines here tasted with Thierry Pillot, Paul's extremely amicable son. These offer richer fruit experiences than the Jobard wines, are perhaps less laser-guided, but have terroir in spades. Superb tasting.
Not time to dawdle! Just as I was starting to feel spoilt rotten, we arrived at Etienne Sauzet in Puligny and spend a fascinating, fact-filled hour with Gerard Boudot, long time wine maker here. As ever, the wines are a sensation. Gerard is a Chardonnay deity and we tasted the brightest, purest and loveliest wines here.
And then to our last tasting, with Pierre Morey. To go from Sauzet to Morey is to have one's senses twisted around by two of the finest wine makers working in the white wine firmament. The precision of a Swiss watch, the fruit pure like a crystal or gemstone, the profound minerality of each vineyard mapped out across one's tongue. Words cannot express the experience with any sufficiency, alas.
And now I require breakfast. I am touring the Cote de Nuits today and will need those tastebuds to be in top form. More later!