Friday, April 2, 2010

Pinch me! Am I dreaming?

Like everyone living away from home, when one is away from family and friends, some moments in life can get really lonely and tough and you start questioning, am I doing the right thing? These questions pop up considerably often especially when you just turned a year older!

Well, today is a day where I can fully and surely answer; yes I am doing the right thing! A field trip organised by our Wine Tourism lecturer Mrs. Laurence Cogan turned out to be a very interesting day with Grand Cru tastings plus in-depth information about the Grand Cru road in Burgundy. It was actually a great pleasure to have the author of Vineyard Trails, Mr. Claude Chapuis as our guide all day long. Mr. Chapuis is a walking wine and history book. He has knowledge from viticulture to winemaking, from wine trails in Burgundy to many other regions in the world where he worked, like Perth in Australia and Marlborough in New Zealand. One interesting fact we learnt from Mr. Chapuis today was that Nuits Saint Georges wine was the first wine taken to the moon or better, to have one of the craters of the moon is actually called 'St-Georges’, after Jules Verne's Captain Anders chose to toast his moon-landing with a bottle of Nuits. We can therefore say that wines from the Cote de Nuits are astronomically good!!! :)

So after a very informative and interesting drive by Mr.Chapuis along the Cote de Nuits we actually started our first wine tasting at Domaine Comte Senard in Aloxe-Corton, the only village which has Grand Crus in both red and white. The tasting presented by a very knowledgeable sommelier, Emily and she took us through from Village to Premier Cru to all the Grand Cru wines. It was really interesting to taste Grand Crus from different climates and compare them together, especially given that we tasted the same producer. My favourite, really difficult to pick, yet I would surely take with me a Grand Cru Corton Clos du Roi to my first trip to the moon. We had a 2006 vintage so the colour was really vibrant ruby with a very rich red fruit nose and a powerful, structured palate showing complexity and potential. Gladly, I will be revisiting this domaine very soon. I booked a table for lunch just to impress another Maltese wino visiting me soon.

After such a pleasant start we stopped over at a very interesting wine shop just outside Beaune, CPH. This shop has a great selection of Burgundy and Champagne wines on the ground level and a very good selection of wines from the rest of France and the world on the first floor. A very well equipped and easy to navigate wine shop with some attractive prices too.

After this short stop we were all looking forward to lunch at La Table d’Olivier Leflaive. I had visited the winery of Olivier Leflaive a couple of months ago for a tasting and the wines are pretty impressive. I cannot say less for both the lunch and wine served today. Approached by Simon Aplin a very proficient sommelier, we started off lunch with a nice refreshing Bourgogne Les Setilles 2008 and some cheese Gougeres. Then we were served a terrine of tuna which matched perfectly the balanced acidity of the Rully 1er Cru Rabource 2007. And for main course, drum rolls, a delicious chicken in puff pastry served with mushroom sauce. With this dish we were served two wines, Puligny-Montrachet 2007 and Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru Champ Gain 2007. I found both wines matched the dish perfectly since both wines had crisp acidity and minerality which counterbalanced the structure of the mushroom sauce. Also, as Simon pointed out, these two wines tasted together really brought out the different characteristics of these wines, the diversity of terrior and wine making. The Puligny Montrachet is a blend of different vineyard plots along the village of Puligny Montrachet and mostly had exotic fruits on the nose. The Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru Champ Gain, was a bit closed at the beginning with mostly smoky aromas from the oak present but then it evolved in lovely citrus fruits and on the mouth one could immediately notice the lasting minerality.

After happily filling our tummies, we proceeded with our wine tour and stopped at the village of Auxey-Duresses. This village like St.Aubin and St.Romain is not so well-known but for me represents very good value and good quality wines. Maybe here the wine makers work harder to make their wine stand out and I really enjoy wines from this village, especially wines from Michel Prunier & Fille. My first visit to this winery was actually around October during the Caves Ouvertes at Auxey-Duresses. I also met Estelle Prunier last week during the Grands Jours and had the great pleasure to taste 1978 and 1988 vintages from their selection. Like always Estelle was very helpful and gave us a fine tasting of their various wines including Auxey-Duresses 1er Cru of which we happily bought a bottle each (only 15 Euros from the cellar).

Lastly we visited the Chateau de Corton Andre at the centre of the Aloxe Corton Village. Unfortunately, their wines don’t stand out as much as the colourful roof tiles of their Chateau which is believed to be of Flemish origins and is one of the most striking characteristics of the Burgundian architecture in the area.

Well, a successful day indeed which clearly covered the study topic of this field work, which I forgot to mention at the start of the blog.... Wine Tourism in Burgundy: Friendly or Cold? Easy or Difficult? Truth or Myth? Maybe, you should take the time to discover it for yourself! You’ll surely not be disappointed!

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