Non-stop action, up and down the Côtes...
We were blessed with the last few glorious days of an Indian Summer here as we went to visit our producers in the Mâconnais and Beaujolais. That window has now closed, it seems, as temps have plummeted from the 70s to the low 50s, and we may get the first freeze of the year tonight. Yikes!
First stop was in Fuissé at the dramatically beautiful Chateau des Rontets for tasting and lunch with Fabio Montrasi - my favorite Italian-Burgundian! Despite losing 90% of his crop to hail in 2016, he’s in good spirits and optimistic overall. Tasting his delicious (but frightfully rare) ‘16s explains his good mood. Plus - there’s a new addition to the lineup - a killer Bourgogne Blanc that I’m excited to bring in early next year. (It’s a great story - many of the vignerons in the Mâconnais who were not hammered by the hail in ’16 offered to sell fruit to those who lost most of their crops, to help make up some of the loss. Much of this cuvée is from fruit bought from the Lafon parcels in Mâcon-Chardonnay.)
It was post-card perfect in the Beaujolais when we pulled in to Antoine Sunier’s spread in Regnié. I don’t remember having too many tastings outdoors, with sunglasses on, in late October. The wines lived up to the day - both Antoine’s and his brother-mentor Julien Sunier. Tasting both of their lineups side by side is always a treat. Both of their domaines keep getting better and better. They are really leading the way in meticulous, hands-on viticulture here. It’s such a shame that some 90% of the fruit in the region is farmed conventionally (if it’s “farmed” at all), and sold to the negoce or co-ops. The Sunier wines, and their brethren, are proof that the terroir has golden potential. Sadly, so much of it remains untapped.
We’d hardly really spent any time in Lyon before, so popped in (just 40 minutes or so from the Sunier’s) for a fun 24 hours. A gorgeous, friendly, welcoming, exciting city. I really want to get back and spend more time there as soon as possible - great food culture, great vibe, parts of which we found very Portland-esque.
Next stop was back in Fuissé at Domaine Thibert, where winemaker Christophe Thibert had just heard the news he’d been selected as the vigneron of the year! Bravo and well-deserved indeed. He laid a bottle of his amazing 2013 Pouilly-Fuissé Les Cras on us - truly great juice. Will save that for an apéro one night soon with a nice hunk of 24-month aged Comté cheese. Yes, please!
I also had the chance to attend the 12th annual Artisan Vignerons du Mâconnais tasting down in Hurigny. 27 of the best, organic and-or Biodynamic producers in southern Burgundy were on hand to share their wares. What a great tasting. I was floored by the quality on display at table after table - truly a lot of world-class juice. The producers were engaged, engaging, passionate, and welcoming - eager to share their work with you, It was a stark contrast to the Vignerons Independants tasting we went to in Dijon last week.
At the Dijon event, none of the dozens of producers on hand seemed interested in being there or explaining their domaines or wines to you. You were not greeted or welcomed to their tables - it was as if they couldn’t be bothered. The quality of the wines overall was poor to mediocre in general. Martha tasted something that showed promise, and asked the producer if they were available for the US. The producer replied “to export to the US is complicated. If somebody else was willing to do all the work, we could be interested.” Wow! Overall - it was a great display of lack of effort, and how it manifests itself in the wines. I sometimes think people don’t believe me when I say that 90% of Burgundy is not very interesting, but it is sadly true.
The 7-day wine-cruise we’re hosting on the Seine sails on Thursday, and before we leave I’ll be working on more finishing touches on our film. Then I’ll be off to Champagne again for a few days, this time to do the dosage trials with Sophie Cossy for the next release of our Caveau Extra-Brut. Then I’ll be back in Beaune for the Trois Glorieuses weekend, the Paulée, and the sneak-preview screening of our movie. Other than that, not much is going on - except for finalizing arrangements with the 6-9 new producers that will be joining the Caveau family next year! I’m so excited. Can’t release any details yet, but be assured there is more delicious Burgundy from the Côte de Nuits, Côte de Beaune, the Mâconnais and Champagne headed your way than ever before. Oh baby…