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Fuel Expenditure Gone Wrong; Wines Gone Very Right














A sample of Fixin awaiting our attention outside the Domaine Mortet in Arnaud's absence

I didn't get a chance to pen a post on either my penultimate or final day in Burgundy. Dinner kept me out late for the former, and a woeful collection of misadventures ensured a tardy finish my last night, delivering me back to the gite exhausted in the darkness, fatigued and desperate for a square meal.

Thursday line-up: Digioia-Royer in Chambolle; François Lamarche in Vosne; Jean Chauvenet in Nuits. Pause. Lunch. Camus-Bruchon in Savigny; Tollot-Beaut in Chorey.

Friday line-up: Jean Grivot in Vosne; Rebourgeon-Mure in Pommard. Pause. Lunch. Taupenot-Merme in Morey; Mortet in Gevrey; Rossignol-Trapet in Gevrey; Drouhin-Laroze in Gevrey.

Thursday went off like clockwork and continued to reinforce our belief that 2010 is indeed a very great burgundy vintage. I have never tasted wines so fine at Lamarche nor, perhaps, at Chauvenet, at which domaine a shift in style has taken place. It's a shift which is, one has the impression, occurring all over the commune of Nuits-St-Georges: a move to minimise Nuits' natural toughness and craft liquids more approachable, but that still display clearly that fascinating terroir that makes Nuits such an excellent hunting ground for burgundy enthusiasts. Christophe Drag at Chauvenet showed us a beautiful collection of his 2010s and the change appears to have been effected seamlessly and highly successfully.

And you have to admire the wines at Camus-Bruchon. Largely unknown to all but the most avid burgundy afficionado they nevertheless continue to produce some of the finest wines of Savigny-lès-Beaune, ergo some of the best values in the region.

Dinner that evening was courtesy of a UK importer from whom we secure allocations of a number of very fine wines, including burgundy. Food was extremely palateable, but the wines were luminary. A bottle of 2007 Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru les Referts from Louis Carillon was on the go when we arrived and very good it was too: showing its oak in its youthfulness, but rich and mineral and complete. Bottle number two was rather grander: the 2004 Montrachet of Ramonet. Of course, one hopes that one has the chance to drink this wine again when it is at its absolute apogee, but boy is this stuff impressive, seeming to define fineness.

A magnum of '93 Volnay Santenots from Lafon folowed and was deliciously energetic, as are so many wines of that vintage.

Friday was an altogether more complicated day. Late morning found Tasting Buddy and me at a petrol station in some despair. I had squirted 30 litres of unleaded into my diesel car and we were instantly earth-bound. A garage sent a man, but he confirmed that he needed to deal with the problem back at base. We were loaded onto/into a truck and soon delivered.

I placed a call to the UK agent of the wines of our afternoon's domaine visits and she quickly appeared and kindly ferryed us about all afternoon. Best of all, we took a call during our frist appointment to say that the car was all done and ready to collect. I had paid €50 for the petrol, now destroyed or, more likely, residing in the tank of one of the garage's staff cars. The work to empty the tank, including the tow, cost €212. The I refilled the tank with diesel: €118. A pricey day all-in-all!

I had never been to Taupenot-Merme before and sitting in a cosy dining room right by the grand cru vineyard of Clos des Lambrays we had a very good tasting. I will certainly offer some of these...as I will with every other producer at which we tasted. Grivot wines were very exciting; Mortet's one wine of which I can secure an allocation - the Fixin - is outrageously expensive for a Fixin, but is better than many domaine's 1er Crus from terroir considered vastly more senior. At Rossignol-Trapet the wines seems to get better and better. The 2010s are utterly fabulous. And Drouhin-Laroze. What a way to finish. Spoilt rotten, we felt.

Last up, I went to visit Daniel Rebourgeon in Pommard. I have a big soft spot for this domaine. Daniel is a very friendly sort who, after studying wine making in the same class as Jean-Pierre Charlot of the Domaine Joseph Voillot in Pommard, went on to teach wine making for a period before settling into the family domaine. The wines are, as ever, super-pale, yet concentrated, intense and beautiful. They are also ridiculously cheap for what they are. We finished with a 1962 Volnay village wine and it was quite extraordinary: still loaded with fruit, gently mocha-scented and flavoured. What fun.

We cleaned the gite and headed for the Channel tunnel. As we rolled down the ramp and onto the train the screen on the dashboard that shows the range for the remaining fuel ticked down to 0 miles and I then spent the 35 minute journey imagining us being pushed off the train by an irate band of those occupying the cars behind us, but we made it to the fuelling stop UK-side and were more relaxed for the 2.5 hour remainder of our journey home.

By all accounts, the 2011 vintage in Bordeaux is extremely mixed. Without doubt, the 2010 Burgundy vintage has produced stunning, concentrated, fresh and intense wines that are absolutely dripping in terroir. Can I ask those considering giving Bordeaux a miss this year to spend their usual budget for those wines on Burgundy instead? Pretty please?? This just might turn out to be the finest thing in your portfolio.
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