As my birthday present (as if this entire trip wasn’t enough), Virginia secured us spots on an all-day wine tour to three wineries offering premier cru and grand cru tastings. We weren’t given any notice on which wineries we were visiting and were curious to see what the day would hold.
We were picked up at 8:45am by Patrick, our tour guide. We were first on his list as we were the only people not staying in Beaune, so we had a chance to get to know him a little bit. He’s both British and French, which means (a) his facility with both languages is excellent, and (b) he’s not too worried personally about Brexit. He also had a dry, snarky sense of humor, which always helps the day go by better.
After picking up the other tour participants (we were six in all), we headed to our first winery: Domaine D’Ardhuy. The domaine is located at the intersection of the Côte de Beaune and Côte de Nuits, and the chateau stands alone surrounded by vineyards. In particular, it’s on the Clos des Langres vineyard, a D’Ardhuy monopole (meaning they own the entire vineyard. As a side note, most vineyards in Burgundy have multiple owners.). Our winery tour guide was very charming, and she took us through the cellars and back up to the tasting room. We tasted several wines, and the best by far was the Vosne Romanée premier cru “Les Chaumes” 2014. After tasting it, I went searching the shelves and saw they had the 2012, so we bought a few bottles of that to take home. We also saw they had their 2004 Corton Charlemagne grand cru and picked that up. (We’ve had one bottle so far and it’s magnificent. We’ll go back before the end of the trip.)
Our second winery was Henri de Villamont in Savigny-les-Beaune. The winery is impressive to look at and explore — it has a manor house separate from the facility, and they’ve built a tasting room connected to the winemaking by the cellar. Though we tasted red wines, Virginia and I ended up focusing on white wines. In particular, they had a few village crus from older vintages, which inspired us to buy three bottles for a “golden triangle” tasting of Meursault, Puligny-Montrachet, and Chassagne-Montrachet.
After two wineries, we all needed lunch, which was conveniently next on the schedule. Patrick drove us to the village of Levernois and the Bistrot du Bord de l’Eau. We were seated outside, overlooking their gardens, and proceeded to have a classic French three-course lunch. The chef offered both classic dishes (with slight twists) and more modern cuisine, and all of it was excellent.
After lunch and coffee, we set off again for our last winery of the day: Domaine Michel Nöellat in Vosne-Romanée. This ended up being our favorite, in large part because Alain and Isabel Nöellat, the fifth-generation owners, were there. They were greeting people, conducting business, and watching their grandson. The wines were outstanding as well. Vosne-Romanée is the center of Pinot Noir, with many of the region’s grand cru vineyards immediately outside the village. So this was the place to be for high-end red wine, and they didn’t disappoint. We bought several to take home, and then I noticed some library wines to drink here. We bought a 2008 Vosne-Romanée premier cru “Les Suchots” and Nuits-St-Georges premier cru “Les Boudots” from 2008, 2005, and 2001. Powerful wines with backbone and black fruit, these have been some of the best wines we’ve tasted to date (I’m writing this over a week after this visit).
Patrick then dropped us all off, first in Beaune and then in Puligny-Montrachet. It was easily our most full day, but the pacing (and of course, all the wine) made it very enjoyable. We kept dinner simple (more leftovers thanks to Jeffrey and Doug), adding carrots and the rest of the chicken to make a thicker stew.
After such a full day, we both slept in thinking we had nothing we needed to do. And then we realized the Meursault market was Fridays instead of Saturdays, and we’d better get there soon if we didn’t want to miss it. We had wanted to walk there for both the scenery and the exercise, so we packed up and headed out.
Meursault is about 4km away, roughly a 50-minute walk. Unfortunately, walking through vineyards means there’s no shade to ward off the sun, which was high in the sky and very hot. We arrived in Meursault a little bit more drained than expected, only to find that the market was much smaller than we anticipated after Chagny and Louhans. Still, we could pick up a few things to get us to Sunday.
We had lunch at the Hotel des Arts in the main square. Rather than the usual three-course meal, we stuck to large green salads (braised chicken for me, Epoisses cheese on toast for Virginia) and 50cl of a clean and crisp Bourgogne Aligoté. (Aligoté is the other white grape allowed in Burgundy, and it’s used for table wine, Kir cocktails, and mustard.)
After lunch, we walked back home. The wine probably didn’t help much with the walk, but I had remembered to bring water for the trip. Once we go back, we stayed put, enjoying the hot tub in the afternoon and then hanging out in the kitchen in the evening.