Oh good lord, to be in France, drinking French wine, eating French food.
I’m a lifetime believer, and I just got let into the inner sanctum of the temple. Here’s an illustration. If you’re wine tasting in California, most likely you'll walk into a tasting room with a staff all its own. Someone will pour you one of the wines they make. If it's a big winery chances are they make a couple hundred thousand bottles of their main wine. Or a million. You may never meet any member of the 25 person winemaking staff. In burgundy, many of these wineries make 10.000 bottles in a good, plentiful vintage. When the winemaker takes you straight down to the cellar and starts popping corks, it's a big deal. There's no marketing budget or magazine ads behind these wines. Just a winemaker, their wines, and some barrels in an ancient cellar.
Cristophe Roumier greeted us at the door of his winery today. For someone visiting burgundy for the first time, this is a big deal. If Burgundy were an old religion, he'd be one of its high priests. It's like an aspiring actor moving out to LA and meeting George Clooney on set their first day. We headed straight down to the cellar. This was my first tasting in Burgundy, and damn it was a good one. Not only did we get to taste barrel samples of the 2017 vintage, which has yet to finish malolatic fermentation, but we also popped some bottles of 2016 and 2015. The 2015 and 2016 Bonnes Mares were absolutely off the chain. If you’re wondering what Bonnes Mares is, it’s a grand cru vineyard, one of the best spots of land in the whole of Burgundy. Christophe Roumier was an extremely generous host.
In France, buying even some basic groceries is a whole different experience. In a small town like Beaune, the markets in the town are all split between specialties. The butcher shop provided the weight of our lunch, and the boulangerie gave us something to spread paté en croûte over. It's insane how good of a lunch you can have with a handful of things you picked up from the corner store. I had really been hoping to find a Panera, but the boulangerie was good enough.
After lunch it was back to Meursault and Volnay. We visited Domaine Génot-Boulanger to taste their lineup. The house is one third of a massive château building built in the 1600s. Guillaume was our host, and took us out to the vineyards in the village of Meursault to see where some of the world's greatest whites are made. I am continually struck by how humble everything is in Burgundy. There's no glamorous signs, no wineries with golf courses and spas, no fake castles built 10 years ago. Just vineyards and tiny little wineries. This is a place that is as honest as possible about who and what it is.
This ethos was still felt at Marquis d'Angervilles, a storied estate in Volnay. Even better than drinking the Clos de Ducs wine in the Clos de Ducs vineyard was drinking the water from the freshwater spring sputtering right out of the ground. You could call it Eau de Ducs.
Our evening concluded with a trip to Caves Madeleine in Beaune. Smoked trout with potato. Two things that are heaven together, especially with champagne. Phew. There's still more to eat and drink. Time to put in work.