To fully appreciate the diversity of the terroir of the Côte d’Or in Burgundy one must see it with the naked eye. To feel the soils under your feet, and to appreciate the varying degrees of sun exposure along the Côte, I highly recommend a vineyard run (regardless of how rough around the edges the previous evening’s festivities has rendered you!).
Then there’s the romantic and picturesque town of Beaune. You start your day at one of the many town squares with a perfectly crafted pain au chocolat and a café (read: four), as you witness the town wake up. Breakfast is followed by strolling through the narrow cobblestone roads, picking fresh cheeses, baguettes and local produce for your afternoon picnic, and eventually settling into a cozy chair outside one of the many wine bars to taste wines by the glass as you watch the Beaune world go by. In the evening you descend into one of the dozens of ‘cellar’ restaurants that could double as barrel rooms where you undoubtedly enjoy fine wines and gourmet food from the region. How does foie gras, escargots, coq au vin and boeuf bourgignon all cooked a la bourgignonne – in Burgundian wine – sound? Followed up by enough cheese to sink a ship!
Maison Louis Jadot:
Much to our surprise, Louis Jadot was the favourite visit, and here’s why: considering the current trend of cult/small-grower-preferred wines, we did not expect to receive such a warm, intimate, and ultimately the most memorable, welcome from one of the prominent producers of this region. Jadot has the power of the qi. The winery is in the shape of an octagon, at the heart of which a small platform is perched six feet off the ground under a domed skylight. During long harvest days this is the spot where workers come to re-energize.
Onto the extensive barrel room! Louis Jadot produces an astounding 125 wines, of which we were fortunate to taste 19 from some of the top sites – Puligny Montrachet, Meursault, Chassagne Montrachet, Gevrey-Chambertain, to name a few… and your spittoon comes in the form of the gravel floor underfoot.
Merci to Monsieur Olivier Masmondet, our very fun and very suave host.
Domaine Comte Senard:
There is no better welcome to a Domaine than that from a Grand Cru Chardonnay-eating Golden Retriever. Domaine Comte Senard, located in Aloxe-Corton, is set high up on the Côte with its Grand Cru sites enclosed by an ancient stone clos. They produce the only red Grande Cru in the Côte de Beaune. Comte Senard owns the oldest cellars in Burgundy which they discovered during an expansion, and in their good fortune unearthed intact bottles from the region – what a coup!
In contrast, we capped off our Domaine tours with a visit with Alex Gambal, a modern day Texan making modern wines… in Burgundy? Who would have thought this was possible?! With the Napoleonic Code of land inheritance, farmers rule this region. Alex Gambal has gracefully managed to penetrate the traditional political landscape. He shared some of his tales of trials and tribulations of doing business here where verbal contracts are only as good as the Texan pony he rode in on. Well done Alex. (co-written)