Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Visit to Burgundy, part I

This weekend I visited Burgundy with my friend and Burgundy-connoisseur Jan van Roekel. He is creator of the Burgoholic website and had only been four times to Burgundy this year, so he thought it would be a good idea to visit a fifth time. Today I will write about our first day, later I will add a Burgundy part II story about Day II. In short: we had a number of very inspiring meetings with great winemakers, we visited some mouthwatering wine stores, and we spent quite some time in exciting restaurants.

Friday morning: Domaine Jean Tardy, Vosne-Romanée
On 25 March 2006 I attended a comprehensive tasting in Nuits-Saint-Georges, with many wines from many Côtes-de-Nuits appellations. In the Vosne-Romanée corner Guillaume Tardy introduced me to his wine; it appeared to be my best encounter that afternoon. I asked him where I could buy his wines, but these seemed difficult to find, so he sold me two bottles "under the counter". I promised myself to visit Guillaume in the future. Not only he had great wine, but he was very friendly also. Last Friday we met again.

Guillaume Tardy, winemaker at Domaine Jean TardyGUILLAUME TARDY OF DOMAINE JEAN TARDY, VOSNE-ROMANEE

After his study Oenology at the University of Dijon and an eight months work experience in Australia, Guillaume (now 30) got in charge of the winemaking at the family domain in 2001. Ever since he is combining the traditional knowledge that he has acquired from working with his father Jean, with his own – say more modern – insights. We tasted all wines from the 2006 vintage from barrel, and we were thrilled. Every wine is a different exponent of Guillaume’s idea of winemaking: the result should be an accessible wine with healthy forward fruit, and that embedded in a suave and tempting texture (when trying to summarize his wines in one sentence).

One of the things that account for the type of fruit in Tardy’s wines is that he does not crush the grapes before they enter the fermentation vat. That means that much of the fermentation takes place within the grapes, more or less comparable with the so-called maçeration carbonique method, known for producing very spontaneous, lively fruit. Another thing is that during barrel aging, Tardy doesn’t do any racking (i.e. transferring a wine off its sediments into a clean barrel). In doing so, more is kept within the wine: the wine ages on its lees.

Now it also got clear to me why I wouldn’t have been able to find his wine: almost everything is exported to far away countries: mostly US and the Far East. Last year only a small proportion was bought by Alain Ducasse for his three Michelin stars restaurant in Paris.

After this highly interesting visit we had lunch at the well-known restaurant Ma Cuisine in Beaune – especially their heavenly tarte au chocolat would be a valid reason to return.

Friday afternoon: Domaine Marc Morey, Chassagne-Montrachet
In the afternoon we visited the well-known Domaine Marc Morey in Chassagne-Montrachet. Sabine Mollard, granddaughter of Marc Morey, had us taste various Chassagne-Montrachets from the years 2006, 2005 and 2004. I was especially impressed by the endless finish of these young whites. Grand wines that will last long, and these rich characters are best enjoyed with something good to eat.

Domaine Marc Morey
The Marc Morey label is quite characteristic with its green background, and Jan and I had just mentioned to each other that the design is not particularly beautiful... and what a coincidence: for the 2006 vintage new labels are going to be used! Totally different, and definitely more stylish. I was so stupid not to take a picture of it...

At the end of the day we visited two wine stores that stand out for both their collection and their good prices: Le Cavon de Bacchus in Nuits-Saint-Georges and Le Cellier de la Cabiote in Beaune (and we couldn't resist buying some jewels).

We concluded this great day in Caves Madeleine (Beaune) where I had my first Pied de Cochon, pig’s trotter. While enjoying this remarkable piece of meat, tendons, toes, bones, skin and fat we listened to owner Laurent Brelim who explained to us that great wines should not be opened when there is a low pressure atmosphere (it was raining the whole weekend...), and even more strict: you should only open a bottle of a great wine when the moon is changing. So, keep that in mind when looking at your own cellar treasures!

Day II (Visits to Mischief and Mayhem and to David Clark) will follow soon.

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