Going out in style, Burgundy style…
A Mugnier tasting, in the Clos de la Maréchale vineyard. Not a bad way to start the day. (Actually I started it with a nice run from Volnay to Meursault and back, followed by the usual baguette, Nutella and confiture, bien sûr!) Frédéric had suddenly left town without any advance notice to his staff, but his assistant Audrey and vineyard manager Severine met us in the Clos and conducted a fabulous tasting & mini-seminar.
A four vintage vertical of the rouge – ’07 thru’10, and the ’09 & ’10 in white, was preceded by an in-depth tour of the 25-acre Clos and an up-close close look at the viticulture chez Mugnier. Fascinating stuff, and we all learned a lot. The ’08 is drinking beautifully right now, but could easily go another 10-15+.
A tough act to follow, but we managed in fine fashion with a delightful lunch at Le Millésime in Chambolle, directly across the street from Mugnier’s home and winery. Some ’09 Mugnier Chambolle-Musigny was in order, as well as a Dauvissat ’09 Chablis, foie gras crème-brulée, white-bean soup with tempura squid, and a decadent pork loin wrapped in bacon with polenta fries and fresh peas. Major Yum.
We walked that off with an afternoon tour of all of the Côte de Nuits Grand Crus, from La Tâche to Mazis-Chambertin and everything in between, and a stop at the Chateau de Vougeot as well.
Then it was on to Gevrey to taste with Alexandrine Roy at Domaine Marc Roy, where the ‘11s in barrel were showing particularly well. She also poured us her range in bottle from ’10 and ’09 and ‘08, and then took us to see her new parcel of Gevrey village La Justice. Amazing to see how pristine and manicured her well-tended rows are, compared to the neighbors. Truly night and day…
The quintessential Burgundy dining experience for visitors is always the venerable Ma Cusine in Beaune, where Pierrre & Fabienne Escoffier have been holding court for what seems like forever. People say the wine list is picked-over, the food is boring – blah, blah, blah. It is still a rockin’ good time, the food is always delicious, the wine list is more vibrant than ever, and I for one will continue to bring friends and customers there all the time. We had a stellar magnum of ’01 Roumier Chambolle-Musigny les Cras 1er, and a nice ’92 de Vogüé Musigny, among other things. The Musigny was captivating on the nose, a little tired on the palate – très ’92 but delicious all the same.
Yesterday was the last full day of the tour, starting off with an awesome tasting and lunch at J-J Confuron. Alain & Sophie’s son Paul led the tasting this time, through the entire range of 2011s in barrel. Only 13 different wines! Of course the Romanée-St. Vivant was in a class by itself, but it’s younger brothers and sisters all showed well. My fave of the day was the Vosne-Romanée Beaux-Monts 1er. Paul said he thought his dad’s favorite was the Nuits-St. Georges Boudots 1er.
Sophie made the whole group lunch – a tabouleh salad, a green salad, and a ham-cheese-onion-mushroom tart that was to die for. And then of course the cheese. And a heaping bowl of fresh strawberries and cream. Alain disappeared in to the cellar and returned with a ’99 Beaux-Monts that had an amazingly complex nose (the first bottle was not to his liking – a 2nd was clearly fresher and showed brighter fruit), followed by a ’93 Romanée-St. Vivant that was vibrant, fresh, and surprisingly rich on first inspection. 15 minutes in the glass, and the richness then morphed into the lacy silkiness that is the hallmark of RSV. I seem to recall the room going very silent for a while… Wow. Merci Alain & Sophie!
To cap it all off, dinner at the fabulous Le Benaton in Beaune, the tiny Michelin 1-star that never fails to rock my world. A feast for all the senses in every sense of the word. One of the best and most creative foie gras preparations ever was truly a standout, but every one of the endless courses rocked. ’06 Arnoux Vosne-Romanée les Chaumes 1er and an ’07 Ponsot Griotte Chambertin also did not suck too badly.
This morning was the chance for everyone to experience the Saturday market in Beaune, and we were blessed with a bright, sunny day and an abundance of goodness lining the streets. I grabbed some cheeses from Hess, paté and charcuterie and jambon-persillée from Moron, a spice cake, and the best 7-grain bread I’ve ever had anywhere, and we headed to Thiébault Huber’s Clos du Colombier vineyard in Pommard for a farewell casse-croute – lubricated by an amazing bottle of George Laval Brut Nature that I had picked up in Champagne last week. The perfect ending to a wonderful one-week intensive Inside Burgundy experience. Wow.
I loved sharing “my” Burgundy with everyone on the trip, and thank them all for making it a total blast. Our driver and major-domo Brooke B made it all a seamless breeze, and it seems a good time was indeed had by all. Now, a couple of days of rest and a few more meetings, then back home to Oregon on Monday. I am already itching to return to the Côte…