Burgundy, Beaune and the occasional beer

Lay & Wheeler Burgundy 2012 Buying TripNick’s latest blog post does not tell the full story I’m afraid. I accompanied Nick on his latest foray into Burgundy – a treat under any circumstances, but a special visit for me as it was only my third to the region and my first in temperatures above zero degrees.

On arrival in Beaune, the weather was fine and we spent a warm evening in Beaune at Ma Cuisine (fabulous), talking about the day ahead and England’s ‘performance’ against Italy in the Euros.

Sadly, day one saw more dismal weather (so much for a break from the wonderful June back home), but insignificant, as we visit Emmanuel at Humbert, Frédéric at Rousseau and the marvellous Anne Gros, all before lunch in Nuits-St-Georges. Post lunch, we saw Jean Grivot, Michel Gros, Marie-Andrée at Mugneret Gibourg and finally Sebastian and Sylvain Cathiard. 7pm and, exhausted, we were back in Beaune for the ‘menu’ at L’Hotel (excellent).

Day two saw a better day (it was sunny, for a start) and we started at Arlot where the new winemaker, Jacques Devauges, took us through the 2011s with speed and precision. Then down to Arlaud, where we met Cyprien and the resident cat (who is barred from the winery). Arlaud are bio-dynamic and it’s interesting to hear his stance on the current climate and the challenges it brings. Following that, we were off to the stunning surroundings at Lambrays, before lunch in Nuits again – this time just a sandwich on the run! Too hot! The afternoon was spent talking to two potential new suppliers, the latter of which involved tasting more than twenty wines in fantastic surroundings back in Beaune. At 7pm, there was time for a beer in the square (still sunny), followed by Portugal v Spain – dire.

Day three and, before we headed home via the ‘delightful’ terminal 3 in Lyon, we travelled to Meursault, getting lost en route to Patrick Javillier and also spending time with Celine at Fontaine Gagnard and another possible supplier in Chassagne – all before noon. Then it was job-done and off home via a chaotic Stansted.

I never knew that tasting wine could be such hard work, but – believe me – tasting 150 wines in the early stages of production isn’t easy; concentration is a must, otherwise you very quickly become lost – especially if your French is ‘poor’! Having said that, the experience was fantastic; the region is fascinating and the producers are extraordinary. Whilst our visit was predominantly arranged to taste the 2011s I soon realised that I should have purchased the 2010 vintage when I had the chance. On the face of it the 2011s will be very good and, in comparison to 2009 and 2010, earlier drinking, but the 2010’s we were shown are developing into something quite fantastic.

Dave Smith, Director

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