Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Burgundy Trip

Monday 23rd

A bumpy late flight got me to Lyon airport at 11:30 pm where unusually JMS was on time to pick me up! In the car was also Helen McEvoy and Becca Reeves, two of our wine buyers and we whizzed off deep into the Mâconnais arriving 100km’s later in the village of Tournus to stay at the lovely 'Le Rampart' hotel.

Tuesday 24th

After a quick breakfast we all met up to go for a huge tasting at Cave de Mancey with the incredible Bernard Derain! We had a look round the cellar first to see the winemaking facilities (very impressive) and barrel store.

We then found ourselves at Bernard’s wine shop and tasting room where Bernard led us through a wine journey of Burgundy, tasting glasses in hand we started with the whites, followed by the sparkling and finally onto the reds. It was a long but excellent tasting during which we were also entertained by Alain Roy. The 2008’s are superb throughout the whole region and below is a list of a few of what I tasted!


AOC Macon Villages 2006-2009
Cave de Mancey
Domaine Vercheres
Domaine Dupre
Domaine de Borie
Domaine Touzot

Chateau La Saude AOC Montagny 1er cru
Domaine Feuillarde AOC Saint Veran
Domaine Chataignerai La Boirier AOC Pouilly Fuisse
Domaine Michel Briday AOC Rully
Domaine Chambris AOC Haut Cotes de Beaune
Clos du Cronin Bitouzet Prieur AOC Mersault
Bitouzet Prieur AOC Mersault 1er cru
Domaine Vincent et Francois Jouard AOC Chassagne Montrachet
Domaine Vincent et Francois Jouard AOC Chassagne Montrachet 1er cru 'La Maltrose'
Domaine Vincent et Francois Jouard AOC Chassagne Montrachet 1er cru 'La Chaumees'

Red 2008

Domaine Chiofflet-Valdinaire Clos du Choue AOC Givry 1er cru
Domaine Labry AOC Hautes Cotes du Beaune Louis Laquin AOC Satenay
Domaine de Miex-Folout AOC Mecury 1er cru
Domaine des Chambris AOC Hautes Cotes de Nuits Bitouzet-Prieur AOC Volnay Domaine Jerome Sordets AOC Pommard 'Les Vignots'
Domaine Jerome Sordets AOC Pommard 1er cru 'Les Fremiers'
Edmound Cornu AOC Ladoix
Edmound Cornu AOC Ladoix 1er cru 'Le Bois Rousset'
Jean-Claude Belland AOC Aloxe Corton 1er cru
Christian Clergy AOC Chambolle-Musigny
Jean Chauvenet AOC Nuit St.Georges
Dupont-Tisserandot AOC Gevrey Chambertin
Dupont-Tisserandot AOC Gevrey Chambertin 1er cru 'Lavaux Saint Jaques'
Didier Chevillion AOC Gevrey Chambertin 'vieille vignes'
Jean-Claude Belland AOC Chambertin Grand Cru
Dupont-Tisserandot AOC Charmes- Chambertin Grand Cru
Dupont-Tisserandot AOC Mazis- Chambertin Grand Cru

Merci beaucoup Bernard!

We had a well deserved bite to eat and left at 14:30 with a car boot full of Magnums kindly given to us. We headed down through Burgundy and the Rhone towards our next tasting at Domaine de L'hortus in AOC Pic Saint Loup in the Languedoc.

We arrived at l'Hortus just before 6pm and were met by the charismatic Yves and Jean Orliac. We tasted some lovely 2009's including Roussanne, Muscat, Sauvignon Blanc and Gris, barrel fermented Chardonnay, Syrah and Grenache.

Afterwards we tasted the whole range from the 2007 and 2008 vintages. These were absolutely stunning wines and are what we winemakers refer to as 'wines made purely in the vineyard' meaning that there is a huge amount of technical work in the field so that the grapes arrive in such perfection there is minimalistic work in the cellar.

Do look out for more wines from Domaine de l'Hortus – I personally recommend the Dolines de l'Hortus 2007. We said our goodbyes and began the long (450km) drive to meet Andrée Ferrandiz in Narbonne for dinner at the L'estagnol restaurant

Wednesday 25th

Just a short 100km drive today to Limoux to meet Laurent Mingaud and Guihellm Marty at the Sieur d’Arques winery to do a small 45 wine tasting! The tasting included Chardonnays, Viogniers, Mauzacs and a new Roch Lacour vintage, which tasted beautiful and is definitely going to be on my table this Christmas.

At the end of the tasting we were treated to a four-wine tasting of the single vineyards from the Clocher range. The 100% Chardonnay Clochers wines are made from grapes harvested from the most exceptional plots in the four Limoux terroirs with each Clocher wine having the name of its village of origin and its winemaker. The star vineyards from 2007 that we tasted were:

De la Serpent
De la Digne d’Aval
De Tourreilles
De Cepe

For lunch we were all treated to the legendary picnic! Homemade quiches, salads, Spanish Omelette, hams, cheeses, smoked salmon; merci beaucoup Andrée!

After lunch we made our way 25km’s North to Carcassonne for the second of today’s three tastings. We were met at Domaine Lalande by our friend and winemaker Richard Osbourne who was waiting with another 40 wines for us to taste. Richard came to France 20 years ago from Australia for a 3 month flying winemaker contract and never left! He is very funny and kept us very amused during the tasting.

One more tasting to go! So we once again back in the car and retracing our steps to Narbonne to meet Hervé Sabadeil and Laurent Torres. We tasted 53 wines here which included 2009 white Colombards and Ugni Blancs from Gascony, Sauvignons and Chardonnays from the Midi. The reds were also 2009’s and there was some really lovely Grenache, Syrah and Pinot Noirs.

A little fatigued Hervé and Laurent lifted our spirits and invited us to dinner at the fabulous Petit Comptoir restaurant in the centre of Narbonne.

The menu is small but the food is to die for I went for the ris de veau with wild mushrooms matched beautifully with a glass of white AOC Corbières from Chateau Ollieux Romarins. After all the tasting today it felt strange not to spit it out!! Fortunately the hotel was very close by so no late night driving tonight.

Thursday 26th

On the road early back again to Domaine Lalande in Carcassone (getting to know the 50km stretch of road quite well!) to meet the owner Pierre Degrotte, Andrée and the cellar master Antonio to taste the 2009 Whites and the Pinot Noirs.

We tasted 40 wines consisting of Maccabeu, Bourboulenc, Vermentino, Grenache Noir, Syrah, Mouvedre and Pinot Noir. Once tasted, JMS and I set to work on blending the 2009 Champs d’Etoile. The Champs d'Etoile 2009 blending components are stunning and this is certainly one to grab when it’s released!

Another Andrée picnic but a very rapid one! We all bundled back into the car and made the last 350km leg of our tour to Bordeaux airport for the 5pm flight to London.

Friday 27th

To finish off the week I went right to the north of the Medoc early this morning to check our 2006 Grand Chai Medoc and to prepare the wine for the upcoming bottling. Our secret source is located on the excellent terroir of Begadon just north of St.Estephe some very good neighbours include Chateaux Rollan de By and Chateau Vieux Robin. The wine was looking very good, really powerful aromas of cassis and spice with a silky palate.

Next week I am off to Italy!


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