The cold weather has hit Burgundy this winter. It doesn’t freeze here every year, but this year the vines are covered in ice. According to Maxime Cromier, my host and a trained oenologist, the cold will kill off some of the bad microbes and will benefit the vineyards when they begin to shoot in Spring. I had a great time being back after a three year hiatus. Nothing much has changed, which is what you’d expect here. We were visiting winemakers and looking at the way oak influenced the taste of different parcels. Granted it was pretty cold in the cellars and most of the wines were still undergoing malolactic fermentation, but I tried my best to sniff out the way different toasts and barrique producers affected taste.
They are pruning this time of the year in this area two hours south of Paris. The dead wood and clippings are burnt to protect disease from spreading and to tidy things up. There are small fires scattered around the vines in steel drum wheelbarrows.
I spent the morning tasting Meursault at Domaine Michelot. The wines were very impressive, particularly his Meursault-Perrieres which is always one of my favorite vineyards for chardonnay. The afternoon was in Beaune and up in Gevrey-Chambertin where we sampled some reds. 2005 was the last great year here for both white and red. Try to scoop some up if you can find it and afford it.
I have grown quite fond of Australian wine lately since I live there, but its attempt at combining elegance, restraint, and power falls short when compared with some of these great wines. Plus, finding any French wine, with the exception of Etienne Guigal’s village Rhone collection, in Australia is not only difficult, but prohibitively expensive due to high import taxes. So rest assured I had my share of Burgundy this time over. Two icons, 1999 Gevrey-Chambertin Vieilles Vignes from Bernard Dugat-Py and 1996 Puligny-Montrachet “Les Folatieres” from Domaine Leflaive, complimented a Michelin experience at Madame L’Oiseau’s new restaturant in Beaune, L’Oiseau de Vignes. I was not going to leave until I was satiated. And after this meal, I was. It got me prepared for the next stop on my docket: Paris.