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Final day and homeward bound


Meursault church across Puligny vines…plus a Matchbox stick-on van…

A blog of my third day in Burgundy, delayed by a day as, after my last appointment last evening, I high-tailed it to Reims, thereby cutting my journey time to the Channel Tunnel by two-and-three-quarter hours.

A day of mixed airs in the Côte. At one stage the cloud was laid over the Hautes Côtes like Cape Town's table cloth and, later, proceeded to roll downslope in torn curtains so it seemed as if the vineyards were on fire.

I started the day at a brilliant estate in the Côte Chalonnaise just south of Burgundy's main fine-wine producing region, the Côte d'Or and a grower I had never visited before: Laurent Borgeot. I have no doubt whatsoever that this man should be on everyone's buy list for fabulous value burgundies. Reds and whites from both the Chalonnaise and Burgundy "proper" were exceptional. There's no other word for them. If I can secure some of these I will, without doubt.

We then journeyed as far south in the Côte d'Or as it is possible to be: Dezize-lès-Maranges. Marc Bachelet took us through the 2015 wines of the domaine run by him and his brother Alex:  Bachelet-Monnot. I'll say it again: this is a new-ish domaine, but it is only heading one way. I believe the Bachelet brothers will likely be as celebrated as anyone in the Côte de Beaune in a few years' time.
Right now, things are being tweaked, but gently. This is an utterly riveting range of wines. The differences between the different communes might as well have been carved into limestone tablets for one to suck on, so clear cut are they. Electric performance. Whatever hat I find myself wearing is thoroughly set to the doffed position.

Patrick Essa continues the extraordinary work started by his father-in-law Michel Buisson. He is so certain of what is required to make super-fine wine in any vintage and he is certainly not afraid to shout about it. In 2015, he waited until a significant time after most other vignerons had harvested their vineyards. The ripening had stuck following a run of very dry weather and he knew there was rain on its way. And down the rain came and up the vines sucked the much-needed water. A few extra days, remarkably, resulted in better acidity. The wines are stellar: just delicious, profound Chardonnays grown on some of the most celebrated soils of Meursault.

Lunch was taken and it was a good lunch too, in a very local sort of place where we were quickly surrounded by a squadron of other visiting UK wine merchants. (I started with Oeufs en Meurette, a very Burgundian dish of eggs poached in stock (an over-simplification), followed by an ingeniously name Escarboeuf: a rich beef stew sauced with - you guessed it - snails.)

Groaning with excess weight imparted by our repast, we drove to Volnay, where Jean-Pierre Charlot was sweeping leaves from the front drive of Domaine Joseph Voillot. Jean-Pierre's an Obelixian genius who crafts super-fine red burgundies from his vineyards. His '15s are extraordinary: beautifully hued, wonderfully scented, lusciously fruited, profoundly structured. They define finesse; class.

And then a quick stop in Beaune for me to collect my car; a quick blat up the péage to Morey-St-Denis via Nuits and a sampling session  in the warm tasting room with Sebastien Odoul of Domaine Odoul-Coquard. The wines here are very much an extreme interpretation of the vintage: very rich and deeply coloured, with vast reserves of fruit that seems to press on the insides of one's palate. They are monoliths in waiting.

18h20 I left Sebastien and his wild Pinots; 20h50 I pulled into the underground car park of the Mercure Reims Centre. I did something one should never do in France: ordered a pint of beer. £7.50 later, a glass of Sancerre and a plate of fish stew before snagging a weary lift to my room and a welcome sleep before this morning's drive: 5.5 hours - plus the half hour chunnel train - saw me walking through my front door.

I sit here writing with the certainty that 2015 will give a great many people a great deal of pleasure. I am going to be selective in the wines I offer. But be assured that the ones I do offer will be the sort of liquids to make your senses sing!


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