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First day in the Côte

Above photo shows Mark Haisma in a rare state of relaxation in his newly built winery

Those thinking about holidaying in France at this time of year had better pick their spot with care; better yet, consider a stay in one of the lovelier parts of the what I was thinking as I drove south from Calais to Beaune yesterday, with varying volumes of airborne water flinging themselves against my window and smearing the headlights during the three-hour portion of peage darkness. This was following my drive from Wiltshire to Folkestone in the brightest sunshine, under the bluest of blue skies.

Waking this morning in Beaune and a twitched curtain revealed rather more beneficent conditions. Setting out in distinctly chipper frame of mind, I was quickly rendered frustrated by my péage dongle thing that automatically raises the barrier and charges my bank account directly for the toll. Except, following two years of idleness (I caught a train down last vintage), it's on the blink. And it's taken me all day to work out that I have to wave it about lustily behind the windscreen for it to attain full efficacy.

Anywho...the wines. First visit was to the same Mark Haisma who appears in the above pic. Mark's an Aussie who washed up on Burgundian shores eight-or-so years ago. He started building relationships with vineyard owners and now makes a range of cuvées from fruit that he picks himself in vineyards worked by their owners. And I like his wines a great deal. Mark cut his teeth at Yarra Yering, so not only knows about making Pinot Noir, but also warmer climate varietals and at the end of our burgundy tasting we sampled Mark's new baby - a blend of old vine Grenache and Syrah from Northern Rhone schist (utterly delicious wine) - as well as his fabulous 2015 Cornas. I intend to see if I can secure an allocation of Mark's wines.

From Mark I headed down to Domaine Gouges in Nuits. What a range! I find the terroirs of Nuits fascinating: 41 premiers crus all offering some distinct identity. The Gouges wines in 2015 are elegant and sophisticated liquids.

I lunched at the Complexe Sportif in Gevrey; hadn't beeen sitting down long when I was joined was joined unexpectedly by Mark Haisma and wine writer Bill Nanson and we made a garrulous trio as we chewed over our thoughts on the vintage, as well as the delicious food at Le Complexe.

Following lunch, I visited Marsannay-le-Côte right in the north of the Côte de Nuits. There I tasted with Christophe Coillot. His Marsannays are utterly sublime; can be consumed with great pleasure in the near future, but will keep 5 or 6 years no problem.

Next up was a real treat: the cellar of Domaine Robert Chevillon, where we tasted with Bertrand Chevillon. And wow, have I had a feast of Nuits today. Gouges and Chevillon are the go-to estates to visit for a lesson in Nuits St Georges terroir and Chevillon's wines are luminously lovely things. I am enamoured!

And lastly to Morey St Denis for a tasting in the welcomingly warm tasting room at Taupenot Merme. Romain Taupenot was his usual talkative self and gave a good chance for one to pose all the questions one could think of re the vintage and what it has produced. It was a great treat to finish the tasting with the 2015 wine crafted from this domaine's small parcel of the Clos des Lambrays.

So...what a day! Impressions at the end of Monday are that the whole world will want to buy and will enjoy drinking the red 2015 burgundy vintage. The wines are outrageously delicious. I am smiling at them even as I write. The one mild caveat is that they perhaps do not carry as especially pronounced stamp of terroir, but as I have discovered, that has never put off the consumer!

A demain!

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