This past winter I visited Burgundy which was fantastic. I spent 4 nights in Beaune and visited 4 domaines. As well as tasting wine, eating amazing brie, camembert and other French cheese, I sampled some of the local cuisine, visited markets and practiced my French.
I last went to Burgundy back in 2011 when I worked at Westbury Communications and was involved in the Discover the Origin campaign. I was lucky enough to be able to visit Burgundy three times in the space of 9 months. I thoroughly enjoyed meeting the winemakers and those involved in marketing the wines, as well as tasting them. Tasting premiers alongside grand and village wines while the winemaker explained the viti and vinification process was such an eye opener. I think if possible, everyone should try wines alongside a winemaker. Just as an artist can best describe their artwork, a winemaker does the same.
So, this time, to have the opportunity to go back to Europe and be able to visit domaines just for my personal interest with other like-minded wine lovers was, well, just perfect for me.
We started the week by visiting Domaine Henri Gouges in Nuits-St-Gouges. It is one of the most famous and most prestigious domaines in Nuits-St-Georges. They don’t often open their doors but I was pleased they were able to do so just for us. Antoine Gouges was kind enough to show us his family domaine, which has been in the family since 1919. He also took the time to take us through a selection of his wines as well as explaining about the domaine and winemaking techniques.
We also learnt that Domaine Henri Gouges is the only domaine to produce Pinot Blanc, well more accurately, a Premier Cru. Pinot Blanc is a mutation from Pinot Noir. As I understand it, it was Henri who found it in the vineyard and I believe over the years once grafted some were given to other winemakers in the area.
Harvest will be around this time with 60 pickers coming for the 1 week. I would love to come here and help. I’m not thinking it would be easy at all but I would certainly learn a lot. The soil here is a mixture of pink limestone and clay.
Domaine Henri Gouges covers 14.5 hectares of vineyards and includes vineyards in six Nuits St. Georges 1er Crus. The wines made here are nothing I have tried before. They are a different spectrum and are made to last years if not decades.
You can find them in Australia imported by Domaine Wine Shippers. I had one once at a Full Bottle tasting last year for about $150 – wow! But that’s what happens when you have to ship such highly demanded wines half way across the globe and after import tax, importer margin, store margins, well it’s still cheaper than a plane ticket to Burgundy!
After we visited the domaine we had a coffee and a bit of food in a local café in the town of Nuits St-Georges, a short walk from the cellar door. We stayed there until the rain passed.
The following day, in the rain, we visited Domaine Yves Boyer Martenot in the picturesque village of Meursault. It was after the second world war, in 1945, that André Boyer inherited the property from his mother Lucie. André then married Juliette Devèze in the same year. Their son Yves married Marie Cécile Martenot whose father was a winemaker in Meursault. It is their son; Vincent Boyer their son who now owns the domaine.
Pauline at the cellar door, took us through their range of wines available on tasting and I was so tempted to buy them to ship to Australia. However when I found out that it would costs 200 euros to ship just 6 bottles and this didn’t include Australian import tax, well I thought again!
The oak used for barrel aging are all sourced from the region. The clay soil gives a more rich wine and the limestone adds minerality and a linear aspect to the wine here. I enjoyed trying the wines with Pauline explaining the wine making techniques. We tried a Meursault Bourgogne, then two Meursaults from different vineyards; En L’Ormeau and Les Navaux followed by two Premier Cru Meursaults. The reds consisted of a Bourgogne rouge, a red from Pommard.
Then we headed up to St Romain where we had our picnic among the vines and the scattered showers. We had bought some lovely cakes in the boulangerie in Meursault and coupled with the camembert and some baguettes it was a delicious lunch with a stunning view.
Coste-Caumartin in Pommard was our visit scheduled for 2pm.This estate has been in the family since 1793 and when you enter the domaine you can see the famous well, dug in the Middle Ages. The domaine is now 30 acres and produces 60,000 bottles per year. Red wines make 72% of production and 28% of white wines.
The following day we went to Chavy -Chouet and met with Romaric who is the 8th generation winemaker. The Chavy family have been in the Côte de Beaune, for generations with vineyards in villages; Puligny-Montrachet, Meursault . They own a total of 13 hectares. My husband and I had this wine at our wedding 2 years ago and in July we went to visit the domaine based in Meursault. Romaric started winemaking back when most kids were just entering secondary school . At the age of 13, he went to a wine school nearby in Burgundy and over the years did various months as an apprentice at a range of wineries. From 22 years old, he became the winemaker and took over from his dad Hubert. His wines are highly sought after and they only have visits on appointments.
I’d love to do a vintage here – it would be 8 days of hard labour living at the winery but it would be fantastic! They normally have 40 pickers during this time. Today they bottle most of what they produce whereas when Hubert was the winemaker, most was sold to négociants. If you like the 2014s, get hold of the 2014 as early you can. Both 2012 and 2014 saw hail damage (2012 was worse) so there won’t be much of the 2014 out.