And of course the first thing I was offered to eat after the half-marathon was a slab of foie gras! It seems my destiny is enrobed in fat duck liver. Remind me not to go in for any blood work anytime soon – my cholesterol count is probably off the charts…
This was the second time I’ve run the Semi-Marathon de Beaune, 13.1 miles through the vineyards of Beaune, Pommard, Volnay, Meursault and back. It’s the “and back” part that hurts – there are a couple of steep hills from Volnay into Pommard and Pommard into Beaune that are absolute killers. I remember last time thinking the course was cruel and unusual punishment. That was back in my first year of running, in 2010. This time I was able to power through the hills and shave about 25 minutes off of my time from 2010. I do love the downhill part of the course – I need to find a marathon that’s all downhill! I ran a respectable-for-me 1:59, 5 minutes off of my half-marathon best, but I’ll happily take it given the onslaught of foie gras my body’s been subjected to these past several days.
I was invited to dinner last night at the home of François Millet, winemaker at the legendary Domaine Comte de Vogüé in Chambolle-Musigny. I’ve come to know François over the last several years, and he graciously invites me to taste with him at the domaine every time I’m in town. I hold François in the absolute highest respect – he is the reigning poet-warrior-philosopher-winemaker of Burgundy, and perhaps the best in the world, though he is supremely humble and declines any sort of adulation.
To me, this was like being invited to dinner with Paul McCartney if you were a Beatles fan, or to dine with Picasso if art were your thing. It was an evening that exceeded my expectations and that I’ll never forget. Over four hours at the table of intense wine talk, history, philosophy, and great food and wine – a private audience with François and his wife Michelle, and a few amazing bottles.
The aforementioned foie gras was served over spice-bread with a mache salad, and a lovely 1995 Chateau Giraud Sauternes. I would’ve been happy to stop right there, but of course we continued. Braised chicken and wild rice was accompanied by the 2009 Musigny Blanc from the domaine (currently still labeled as “Bourgogne Blanc”. As the vines are now 25+ years old, it will return to being labeled as Musigny Blanc soon – maybe with the 2014 vintage?) Then came a stunning bottle of the 1996 Bonnes Mares to go with the cheeses – all silk and grace with that unmistakable nose of Bonnes Mares leaping out of the glass. To follow – the mind-bendingly aromatic and still youthful 1991 Musigny, from fruit that was sorted grape-by-grape by tweezers to remove the hail-damage, resulting in a scant half-ton per acre that year. The wine is simply magnificent.
IN the cellars at de Vogüé with François Millet
I’ll be back in Chambolle-Musigny tomorrow to taste the 2012s at de Vogüé. Monsieur Millet’s eyes light up when he talks about his 2012s - this is gonna be good. (I last tasted them during malo this past June, and even then one could tell there was something spectacular in the making…)
It seems like the entire world is in Beaune today. Just walking around town I ran into dozens of people I know from all over the planet. I was thrilled to see the new digs of The Cook’s Atelier – the way-cool cooking school run by American Marjorie Taylor and her daughter Kendall Franchini (who worked briefly for us at in Oregon a few years back before moving to Burgundy. Her husband Laurent now has a cool wine shop on the ground floor of the Atelier – be sure to check it out when you visit here.)
Also new in town – the food truck phenomenon has hit Burgundy. Well, at least there’s one, anyway. It’s called B Comme Bourgui – and they do gourmet Burgers and Fries that totally rock. I had the Burger with carmelized onions and melted époisses cheese on a perfect brioche bun. It might have been the best burger I’ve had anywhere, truly. Next time here I expect to find a pod of food carts on the Place Madeleine, perhaps…
I stopped into my favorite bookstore today – Athenaeum in Beaune, where the legend himself Aubert de Villaine of Domaine Romanée-Conti was signing copies of the new book Climats du Vignoble de Bourgogne – celebrating the 1,000 year+ history generic levitra no prescription of the Burgundian vineyards and the campaign to have them declared a UNESCO world-heritage site. If any place deserves that distinction it must certainly be these storied pieces of vineyard land here on the Côte.
I believe word is finally leaking out about an exciting new Burgundy-Oregon project that is underway. Jean-Nicolas Meo of Domaine Meo-Camuzet in Vosne-Romanée has formed a partnership with his friend Jay Boberg from California – who also happens to be an old friend of mine from my music business days in Los Angeles. Their new winery (yet to be officially named) is producing wine in Oregon, and they have started this year, producing a Maresh Vineyard Pinot that they are making in our Scott Paul facilities in Carlton. Part of the project includes a joint-winemaking collaboration, with Jean-Nicolas and our own Kelley Fox – and there will be a special cuvée from this partnership that we’ll release under the Scott Paul label sometime in 2015. Details to come…
Stopped in to Maison du Colombier in Beaune (best wine list in town these days, I do believe) for a glass of Champagne with Jay tonight, and then cruised up to Vosne-Romanée for an apéro at Jean-Nicolas’ house. Now back in Volnay for the night, ready to hit the tasting trail full-on tomorrow. Let’s do this!