We spend our day off with a bit of sightseeing, and some catching up on email. A short trip north to the Reims Cathedral is well worth the drive. The massive gothic masterpiece, built in stages over thousands of years and carefully restored (with, of all things, Rockefeller funding) post WWI, is magnificent; as the French say, impressionant.
Wine writer Rajat Parr describes St. Aubin as the “insider’s white Burgundy.” Wedged in a valley between Chassagne and Puligny, this town produces white Burgundy with hints of Montrachet’s golden richness, but a less stratospheric price tag.
We leave Beaune this morning under cloudy skies. As the fog lifts and the drizzle clears, we drive northwest to Chablis, Burgundy’s satellite region. Our first appointment is en centre ville — a family producer of classic, mineral Chablis. The 2013s are perhaps the best they’ve made in recent memory, full of life and energy, and in perfect balance.
Last day in Burgundy. We head south on the highway towards Macon, back to the region where we once spent a year living. The softly rolling hills are covered in wheat, forests, and vines, and our car dips gently as we rise and fall with the rhythm of the countryside.
With a morning off from tastings, I take the car for a stretch up the Côte d’Or for photo collection. The soft morning sun quickly rises past the haze and clouds to paint a picture perfect blue sky above the shimmering green rows of vines. Many vignerons are in the fields this week — treating with insect deterrents, pruning the top canopies of the vines, and checking on the floraison.
For most Burgundy enthusiasts, Vosne-Romanée is Mecca. The wines of Vosne have been celebrated since at least the 13th century, and it is generally considered “the greatest Pinot Noir village on earth.”* Or, as a monk wrote centuries ago, “there are no ordinary wines in Vosne.”
A quick coffee before heading south today — again a clear blue sky with warm sun and a mild breeze. The floraison (flowering) happened last week, and the weather was perfect; the vignerons are trés content with the the flowering of their vines, and have begun their 100 day countdown to the maturation of the fruit.
Coffee in the apartment and a warm baguette from the boulangerie next door. Our first tasting is a new producer in Gevrey, in a beautiful 18th century house with a welcoming courtyard. The domaine is a very exciting new find, with excellent Gevrey-Chambertins at the villages, premier cru, and grand cru levels.
Jean-Louis Amiot is on a roll. In the last few years Amiot has hit his stride, producing consistently excellent wines in vintages that have been anything but easy. Yesterday we visited the domaine to taste his 2013s, and were once again impressed at the quality in a difficult year. They’ll be included in next month’s July Futures.
The Gare de Lyon buzzed quietly at 6:30 this morning, with sleepy travelers standing blankfaced in line for their coffee. The train to Dijon was sunny and sleepy as it rocketed smoothly through the lush French countryside.
Sunday coffee in Châtelet on the way to Porte de Clingancourt. We meet a local friend for a morning tour of the Les Puces market, which is sprawling and full of amazing antiques: copper pots, Victorian dresses, Louis XIV furniture, and everything in between.
Spend even a few days tasting Burgundy, and the power of terroir is hard to miss. During a brief visit last week, we sampled Volnay, Savigny, Givry, Mercurey, and Pommard — five wines made from the same grape and the same region. But the characters of these wines could not be more disparate.
A quick breakfast at the Abbey, before heading north to Paris. We drop the car at the Gare de Lyon, take the metro to the Marais, and find a crêperie for lunch. Chèvre and salad, then butter and sugar, with dry sparkling cidre to match. It’s cooler here, with a blue cloudless sky.
Breakfast is in the light-filled winter dining room — soft boiled eggs, croissants, local yogurt, chèvre and locally smoked salmon. We borrow a pair of bikes from the Abbey, and set out on a 25k loop around the surrounding countryside.
Croissants and coffee this morning on the Place Carnot, Beaune’s central square. We head south mid morning through the Côte d’Or and out the St. Aubin valley to the Chateau de la Rochepot. The castle dates from the 13th century, and was carefully and lovingly restored in the 19th century by a local family. Rochepot boasts classic Burgundian tiled roofs, a bright and sunny courtyard, and a 230 foot well through solid rock dug entirely by hand in 1228.