Sunday, June 28, 2009

France Trip Day Seven – The Jura, from Arlay to Arbois

Healthy soil (left), unhealthy soil (right)

Jean Bourdy, Arlay
Jean-Francois Bourdy is the fifteenth generation to make wine here in Arlay at his family’s estate, founded in 1475. Bourdy is as much museum as working winery, with bottles from vintages ranging back to 1781, all of which, Jean-Francois insists, are drinking beautifully. To prove the point we tasted a 1955 (my birth year) Clos de Jura Rouge made from one-third each Pinot Noir, Poulsard and Trousseau, the three originally red grapes of Arbois. It spent four-plus years in barrel – the normal aging time for Bourdy’s regular wines – and was recorked a couple of years ago at which time it was topped off with more 1995 Rouge. It was indeed still kicking, with silky, juicy fruit. Neat. We also tasted a 1953 Clos de Jura Blanc (100% Chardonnay), which was more advanced, but also still fascinating, not unlike older white Burgundy.

Jean-Francois is adamant about tradition, about maintaining the history of his family’s domaine. He sees his time at the helm as the custodian of a tradition meant to be handed down to his children, their children, and so on. Of course, tradition did not prevent Bourdy from converting to biodynamic viticulture in 2005.

We tasted:
Clos du Jura Rouge ‘05
Clos du Jura Rouge ‘55
Clos du Jura Blanc ‘05
Clos du Jura Blanc ‘53
Vin Jaune de Chateau Chalon ‘02
Vin de Paille ‘02
Galant des Abbesses Macvin (an Arbois version of Pineau des Charentes, blending 1 part marc to 2 parts grape juice cooked with twenty different spices)
Cremant de Jura – we tasted this last because I requested it, and I’m glad I did; it was delicious.

Arrving in Arbois, we checked in to Hotel Jean-Paul Jeunet, then went in search of lunch. After walking several blocks we noticed La Balance, Mets et Vins – this was the surprise of the trip. Local wines, many organic and/or biodynamic, local food, prepared with great flair, intensely, exotically spiced. We spent three hours here, eating jellied beef (tastes much better than it may sound), guinea fowl, coq au vin jaune, two different types of Comté – drinking (all recommended by our terrific server):
Cremant de Jura, Clos des Grives (Bio)
Savignin ’05, Ligier Pere et fils
Trousseau ’05 “Grevilliere,” Daniel Dugois
Vin Jaune ‘76

It was a fabulous lunch, but it made us an hour late for our appointment with Stephane Tissot, who had a big afternoon set up for us…

Stephane Tissot – Arbois
With 40 hectares (about 100 acres) of biodynamically farmed vineyards, this is one of the world’s largest biodynamic estates. Before tasting we drove to the base of Clos la Tour de Couron, piled out of the car, and proceeded to climb to the top of the hill and up into the top of the tower. The plot at the very top of the property has been planted at twice the normal density, with 12,000 vines per hectare. One of the highest sites in Arbois, it offered an amazing view of the village and the countryside.

Next we visited another vineyard on flatter land, with completely different soil structure. In the middle of Tissot’s land, another grower, who uses pesticides and herbicides, has about six rows of vines. Tissot’s vineyards are lush and green, buzzing with life, with deep, high quality soil. The neighbor’s rows had nothing living between them, and distinctly sandy-textured gray soil (see picture above).

The Tissot family is large, with many different branches, and firmly entrenched in the Arbois tradition. Stephane, however, is constantly striving to improve his wine, sometimes coming up with new expressions. He is proud of the wine estate his parents created, but he is not necessarily encumbered by their legacy.

Then we tasted:
Chardonnay ’07, Classic (60% from clay soils, 40% from limestone)
Chardonnay ’07 Les Gravieres (55 year-old vines, 100% limestone)
Chardonnay ’07 La Mailloche (100% clay)
…then the same exact cuve, but from a bottle opened a week earlier, showing no oxidation…
Chardonnay ’07 Les Bruyeres (100% black clay)
Chardonnay ’06 En Barberon
Chardonnay ’06 Clos la Tour de Couron
Arbois Blanc ’82 (Chardonnay, with 10% Savignin)
Trousseau ’07 Singulier (Trousseau is a cousin of Touriga Nacional)
Pinot Noir ’07 En Barberaon
Traminer (Savignin) ’07 (Savignin fermented in stainless steel, no oxidation)
Savignin ’05 (2 years on flor, ala Manzanilla) – At this point Stephane emphasized the fact that the Jura was once part of Spain, and that they introduced the concept of oxidation and flor to the region.
Vin Jaune ’02 (6 years on flor)
Cremant de Jura Brut NV
Cremant de Jura NV “Indegine” – Cremant with native-yeast liqueur de dosage
Spirale ’05 Paserille (Chardonnay/Savignin/Poulsard)
Audace ’06 – 100% Poulsard Passito
PMG ’05 – a concentration of Spirale with 500g/L residual sugar

Exhausted, we limped back to the hotel in time to change before dinner at the hotel restaurant, the Michelin 2-star Jean-Paul Jeunet. Dinner was spectacular, but we were so tired and a little full from that amazing lunch. There’s an obvious lesson here: one big meal a day is enough!
We drank:
Cremant de Jura Rosé – Domaine Rolet
Chardonnay ’02 – Emmanuel Houillon, Arbois Pupillin
Trousseau ’88 Cuvée Saint Paul – Camille Loye, Arbois
Chateau Chalon ’00 – Jean Macie
We ate spendidly, too, but I’m too tired to recount. Later.

France Trip Day Six – Beaujolais

Chateau Thivin, Cote de Brouilly

After spending a good part of the morning in a great bookstore in Beaune, we headed down to Beaujolais, taking the back roads at first – through Mercurey and Givry – before finding our way back to the autoroute and racing down to Villie Morgon for our 3pm appointment with Marcel Lapierre. If you can believe it, we skipped lunch! Beaujolais is a different place from the Cote d’Or, with many more hills and valleys. It was another beautiful day.

Marcel Lapierre – Morgon
Maarcel Lapierre’s domain is certified organic (though they decline to label their wine as such, feeling their process is actually more stringent than certification requires), and they bottle 40% of their production without addition of sulphur. Average vine age is about 65 years, with some parcels over one hundred. They do not filter, but their wines are so pristine and clear you might think they did (until you taste them). We tasted with Marcel’s son Mathieu.

Morgon ’08 – sassy strawberry/floral, fresh and peppery
Morgon ’08 Sans Soufre – not unlike the first ’08, but a bit more tender and juicy.
Morgon MMVII Cuvee Marcel Lapierre – an old vines cuvee, with amazing concentration and depth.
Vin de Pays des Gaules – actually 100% Morgon ’08 from “young” (less than 20 years here) vines, only 5-6 day maceration as opposed to the regular 2-3 weeks.
Morgon ’07 Sans Soufre – pretty, ready to gulp
Morgon ’06 – a little reduction (sulphur) in the nose. This is a good thing, It blows off with a little swirling, leaving a deep, rich core of fruit.
Morgon ’05 – complex, spicy strawberries, savory, marvelous. Mathieu says this was a great vintage in Beaujolais.
Morgon ’03 – when we told Mathieu we hadn’t eaten lunch, he sent us back to the center of Morgon to a boulangerie to pick up snacks, giving us three opened bottles and this unopened bottles, to drink with our little picnic. The wine was delicious, as was the food.

Chateau Thivin, Cote de Brouilly
We were hosted by the sixth generation Claude Geoffray at this incredible 13th century estate on the border between Brouilly and Cotes de Brouilly. The two crus differ in situation and soil composition. Brouilly soils are mostly pink granite, and they’re situated below on the lower land surrounding Mont Brouilly. Cote de Brouilly vineyards are on the steep slopes of the Mont Brouilly, and the soil is dominated by blue schist.

We tasted:
Beaujolais-Villages Blanc ’08 “Margeuritte” – 100% Chardonnay grown on a parcel in Cote de Brouilly with high clay content not great for Gamay, but ideal for Chardonnay.
Brouilly ’08 – Fresh, strawberry/white pepper – brilliant character, and completely different from Thivin’s Cote de Brouilly, even the label.
Cote de Brouilly ’08 – This is darker, almost blueberry – vivid, penetrating, not as overtly fruity as Brouilly, but terrific.
Brouilly ’07 – more fleshed out than ‘08, but still firm and fresh.
Cote de Brouilly ’07 – classic Thivin.
Cote de Brouilly ’06 Cuvée Zaccharie – oak-aged cuve selected from best lots in cellar – a different, deeper expression, but it works if you give it time.
Cote de Brouilly ’00 La Chapelle – a special parcel high on the slope – this is mature, but full of fruit – savory apricot/cherry/mushroom flavors. Neat.

We drove back to Beaune and dined at the Hotel. Another bottle of Philliponnat Rosé Champagne, then a fascinating white: Heritieres du Comte Lafon Macon-Bussiers ’03…the waiter was reluctant to serve it; he was probably afraid of the mold covering most of the label; but it was fresh, light in color, beautifully developed, maybe a little low in acidity, but delicious. We finished our last dinner in Beaune with Matrot Volnay-Santenots 1er Cru ’05 – terrific, if young yet…I’d be happy to have a case to follow its progress over the next decade or so.

Before I pack for our drive to Arbois tomorrow, a thought about the many ’07 Burgundies I tasted this visit. If you want to learn about what a place contributes to the taste and character of a wine, this is a perfect vintage. It’s not going to last as long as ’05, and the wines are not profoundly deep or concentrated. They are however pure expressions of grape and terroir and producer. Most important, they’re delicious to drink.

Time to pack. Until tomorrow

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

France Trip Day Five - Marsannay to Meursault

Instead of detailed notes like yesterday, I’m going to stick with more general impressions.

2007 in Burgundy
Based on our experience this trip, the 2007 vintage has produced wines vividly of their place, smacking of the characteristics that make a particular site special. They’re not particularly big or tannic – most of the wines are going to provide great drinking over the next five or so years – but they’re beautifully balanced, a pleasure to taste.

Bruno Clair, Marsannay
We tasted with winemaker Phillipe Brun – ‘07s out of bottle. The quality was uniformly excellent. After yesterday’s visit with Thibault Liger-Belair, whose philosophy is that the vigneron should do it all, from the vine to the bottle, the arrangement at Bruno Clair has been different for a long time – at least since my last visit in 1995. Bruno is in the vineyards pretty much non-stop, while Phillipe is in the cellar, pretty much non-stop. It seems to work out just fine.

After a Marsannay Rosé ’08, we tasted the following ‘07s:
Marsannay Vaudenelles
Marsannay Les Longeroies
Morey Saint-Denis en la Rue de Vergy
Vosne-Romanée Les Champs Perdrix
Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru la Petite Chapelle
Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru Cazetiers – this is my favorite of the Gevrey 1er crus…
Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru Clos Saint-Jacques
Chambertin Clos de Beze Grand Cru – 96 year old vines; so elegant
Bonnes Mares – fragrant, lavishly fruity, decadent wine.
Savigny-les-Beaune 1er Cru Les Dominodes – It may seem odd to taste this after a couple of Grand Crus, but Dominodes is always Bruno Clair’s biggest wine. It comes from 107 year old vines, and tastes of chocolate-covered cherries and raspberries; lush, powerful and concentrated. Unique.

Then a couple of older wines (yes, Phillipe poured them blind, and yes, I failed both times…):
Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru Cazetieres ’02 – I thought it was pretty and delicate, so I guessed Clos St. Jacques.
Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru Clos Saint-Jacques ’93 – Caroline’s birth year… this was gorgeous, full of mushrooms and cherries, long. I knew it was an older vintage, but I thought it was one of the Grand Crus.

Then a few ’07 whites:
Morey Saint-Denis en la Rue de Vergy Blanc – floral/peach/cherry/strawberry – yes, I’m talking about a white wine. A totally different expression of Chardonnay. Neat!
Marsannay Blanc – 20% Pinot Gris (aka Pinot Beurot); this had a neat sort of red fruit/mineral scent; delicate, fragrant and persistent. A delight.
Corton-Charlemagne – surprisingly blossomy for the appellation, but not necessarily for Bruno Clair’s expression of it. Still, there’s plenty of lemon candy/oak/mineral character, densely packed, long and promising.

Lunch at Chez Guy, Gevry-Chambertin
What a fantastic lunch! It was gorgeous outside, as it has been the whole trip in Burgundy, and we dined on the sidewalk here. We were served a wonderful amuse bouche – sort of a deconstructed gazpacho. Then we started the drinking with a bottle of Marsannay Rosé ’07 from Dupont-Tisserandot, which was perfect with my escargots on a bed of incredible tomato coulis. We could have stayed with the pink wine, it was so refreshing, but then I caught sight of a rarity on the wine list: Henri Gouges Nuits Saint-Georges Blanc Le Perrier ’04. We couldn’t even taste this wine, any vintage, at the domaine yesterday. Made from a rare mutation of Pinot Noir that produces a white grape, it’s as delicious as it is rare. It was matched by a filet of dorade on a bed of sautéed fennel. Awesome combination. We had a cheese course, I had a dram of cold Poire William, and we were on our way.

Thierry and Pascal Matrot, Meursault
After a too-quick siesta, we drove down to Meursault, got lost in the maze of streets around the centre ville, were rescued by a woman walking along, who first tried to tell us how to get to Matrot, then hopped in the car and directed us there herself. It was a nice start to the evening. We tasted with Thierry in the cellar, ‘07s from the bottle:
Bourgogne Chardonnay
Meursault – both of these first two are on our shelves at CWC…
Meursault-Blagny 1er Cru
Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru Les Chalumeaux
Meursault-Charmes 1er Cru
Puligny-Montrachet “Quintessence” 1er Cru – this is a blend of Puligny-Chalumeaux and Puligny-Garenne in new oak (an aberration for Matrot). Like Thierry said: “Hey, this is wine, we have to have an exception a day. This is ours.”
Volnay Santenots 1er Cru – the only ’07 red we tasted, and beautiful.

2007 is a “Matrot vintage,” perfectly suited to the style of the domaine – pure, fresh, exquisitely balanced.

We then drove over to the Matrot’s home in Blagny, near the top of Meursault, on the edge of Puligny-Montrachet. This place is an oasis, and we were fortunate to be invited. We were met at the house by Thierry’s wife Pascal and two of their three daughters, Adele and Elsa. It is likely that Adele and Elsa, both of whom have completed their university studies in wine, will take over Domaine Matrot at some point in the future - but at 23 and 21 years of age, they have some traveling to do first. We sat outside and sipped on Meursault-Charmes ’05 before going inside for a wonderfully cozy dinner, starting with jamon peresille and salad, drinking Meursault-Blagny ’96. Our main course was perfectly cooked plain buttered pasta and simply roasted extremely fresh – according to Pascal it had been walking around earlier today – chicken. We drank Blagny La Piece sous le Bois 2000 (this was very good) and 1999 (this was terrific). Finally three great cheeses (Comté, Saimantan, Citeaux) and Blagny la Piece sous le Bois 1988 – fantastic. The Matrots brought us into their house and shared their world with us; it was an extraordinary gift. Considering their day starts at about 5:30am, we left before 10pm, and drove back down into Meursault, surrounded by vineyards, as the light faded from the Cote. A wonderful day. Bon nuit.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

France Trip Day Four - Nuits Saint-Georges, Chassagne-Montrachet

This was a big tasting day...notes follow...

Thibault Liger-Belair - Nuits Saint-Georges
Thibault is a young man (34) and proprietor of a young estate (2002), who owns 19 hectares in some of the greatest vineyards in Burgundy. Biodynamic since 2005. The ’08 vintage was extremely short in quantity (Thibault produced an average of 22hl/hectare, or less than half the legal maximum), but seems very high in quality. We tasted the following ‘08s out of barrel:
• Nuits-St-Georges Les Charmottes – after lots of swirling to eliminate reduction, deeply spicy, vivid fresh, mineral/fruit – dazzling start.
• Gevrey-Chambertin Croix de Champ – flatter, extremely mineral and closed.
• Aloxe-Corton Cape aux Vert – pure, penetrating fruit – almost sweet, Wow.
• Vosne-Romanée Aux Reas – big, rocky mouth, with spicy fat fruit – yikes! Malolactic is not finished yet on this one.
• Chambolle-Musigny 1er Cru – located just below Bonnes Mares – floral, fresh, juicy, beautiful.
• Corton Les Rognets – bing cherry – ripe and full and long.
• Corton-Renardes – spicy/floral/kirsch, ripe palate
• Clos Vougeot – Cherry/raspberry liqueur/mineral/floral/spic – vibrant, really beautiful.
• Nuits-St-Georges 1er Cru Les Saint-Georges – Thibault owns 2 hectare (the biggest single parcel) here, and is actively campaigning to have Les Saint-Georges elevated to Grand Cru. Floral/black cherry/mineral; dazzling, penetrating dark fruit/mineral flavors; v. rich and balanced.
• Richebourg Grand Cru – hasn’t even started malolactic; wild, almost cranberry-like fruit/mineral/floral – compact, but long and intense. Shorter than LSG.

Then we tasted the following bottles “blind”:
• Nuits-Saint-Georges 1er Cru Les Saint-Georges ’06 – I guessed Corton Rognets because I smelled bing cherries. Wrong. It was gorgeous though.
• Nuits-Saint-Georges 1er Cru Les Saint-Georges ’04 – this time I guessed Vosne-Romanée Aux Reas ’05 or ’06. Wrong again. This was big and spicy and concentrated.
• Vosne-Romanée Aux Reas ’05 – and this time I guessed Richebourg ’07, or LSG? Wrong twice more, but geez was this terrific young wine, dark, sizzling, intense and powerfully tannic.

Domaine Henri Gouges – Nuits-Saint-Georges
We met and tasted with Gregory Gouges, son of Pierre, nephew of Christian. Gregory took over winemaking duties with the ’08 vintage. He is the great-grandson of Henri – generation number four. Henri established the domaine in 1919; was one of the principal architects of the AOCs introduction to Burgundy in 1936; and agreed with the local vignerons at the time that Les Saint-Georges should not be declared a Grand Cru because they feared that higher taxes levied against Grand Crus would drive out traditional owners in the vineyard. We tasted the following 2007s out of bottle (the ‘08s are in the middle of their malolactic fermentations, and Gregory did not want us to taste them):
• Nuits Saint-Georges – a bit murky (not filtered); fresh, penetrating cherry/mineral smells – beautiful, soft, creamy textured, very drinkable.
• Nuits Saint-Georges 1er Cru Clos de Porrets – Les Saint-Georges (Monopole) – floral/mineral – firmer, more structure here.
• Nuits Saint-Georges 1er Cru Les Pruliers – spice/meat/mineral – totally different, even though this vineyard is only 200 meters from Clos de Porrets – more closed.
• Nuits Saint-Georges 1er Cru Vaucrains – floral/raspberry/mineral bag ‘o rocks, but so promising – average yield here is 20hl/ha, but only 18hl/ha in 2008.
• Nuits Saint-Georges 1er Cru Les Saint-Georges – Dark; different level of extraction; black cherry/framboise liqueur/mineral/floral; leaner than Vaucrains but more extracted.

Thomas Morey, Chassagne-Montrachet
Thomas had only one hour to spend with us, but he made the most of it. His father, Bernard, split all of his own vineyards between Thomas and his brother, leaving only a small negociant business to himself. We tasted the following ‘08s from barrel – malolactic finished about two months ago:
• Bourgogne Blanc – fresh lime/mineral – lively acidity, compact structure. Neat
• Beaune-Greves Blanc – lemon curd/floral – wow! – delicious, like a lemon drop; wonderfully distinctive.
• Saint Aubin 1er Cru Le Puits – almost opposite to Beaune-Greves, all mineral/lemony, concentrated, with great structure.
• Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru Les Embrazees – class lemon/mineral; pure and compact, but very long.

Then we tasted the following ’07s from bottle:
• Bourgogne Blanc – mineral/smoke/lime; seamless, dry; wow.
• Saint Aubin – mineral, then blossoms/lemon/hazelnut; sort of more mineral, leaner version of Meursault.
• Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru Les Baudines – mineral/lemon custard/floral.
• Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru Les Embrazees – a touch more candy here, as expected.
• Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru Morgeot – floral/mineral – closed but complete feel in mouth; persistent, long, brilliant young wine.
• Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru Vide Bourse – tiny amount of this wine; some wood/lemon candy/mineral; long.
• Batard-Montrachet Grand Cru – lemon custard/blossom/mineral smells, seamless, rich, long. This is fun; lacy and elegant smells, intense, balanced, long flavors. Great.

..and then three reds:
• Chassagne-Montrachet Rouge Vieille Vignes – expansive, spicy red fruit.
• Maranges 1er Cru Fussieres – classis Maranges: game, and lavishly fruity, ripe, neat.
• Santenay 1er Cru Gran Clos Rousseau – exotically fruity/Asian spice/almost jammy/framboise – wildly yummy.

After lots of tasting, and a truly terrible lunch in Nuits-Saint-Georges accompanied by a virtually undrinkable wine labeled “Nuits Saint-Georges Les Charmottes ’04,” it was time to eat and drink, so we returned to Ma Cuisine. Here are some highlights:
Food – Crème de Petits Pois (that awesome fresh pea soup a couple of us had yesterday); filets of fresh sardine mariniere; lapin aux herbes served cold; terine de foie gras; entrecote de boeuf; more perfectly ripe epoisses.
Wine –
Bernard Morey Chassagne-Montrachet Blanc 1er Cru Les Caillerets 2000
Comte Lafon (again!!!) Volnay 1er Cru Santenots-du-Milieu 2005
Christophe Perrot-Minot Nuits Saint-Georges 1er Cru Les Richemones Vieilles Vignes 2000

And that’s all for today, folks!

Monday, June 22, 2009

France Trip Day Three - Bouzeron, Beaune

Pamela (second from left) with Margaret, John and Rich

A & P de Villaine – Bouzeron
Aubert and Pamela de Villaine moved to Bouzeron in 1971 (the year of their marriage), making their first Aligoté in 1973. They campaigned to create an AOC Bouzeron for Aligoté, eventually succeeding in 1997. Aubert and their nephew Pierre were off on other appointments, leaving us in the care of Pamela, a native of California, who was a wonderful host.

We tasted:
Bouzeron ‘07
Bourgogne Blanc ‘07
Rully St.-Jacquess ‘06
Bouzeron ‘95
Bourgogne Rouge La Fortune ‘07
Bourgogne Rouge la Digoine ‘07
Mercurey Rouge ‘07

The ‘07s are uniformly fresh, pure expressions of their grape and place, with firm structures. They’re relatively closed now, but I’d guess they will open up pretty quickly. Evidently a weird vintage, with all the heat in April, then abnormally cool during summer. It all seems to have come together by harvest though.

We had a fantastic lunch in Beaune, at Ma Cuisine. For the third consecutive meal, we drank Comte Lafon! Highlights:
Two fishes – mackerel and salmon – in a bouillabaisse-style broth; a fresh pea soup with a hint of cream; fresh marinated sardines; with
Comte Lafon Monthelie Blanc ‘05

A short side of pork ribs so tender and flavorful it was like having an exotic delicacy for the first time; veal kidneys; perfectly ripe, raw milk epoisses; with
JF Coche-Dury Monthelie Rouge ‘06

We needed another bottle – the proprietor picked a Sylvain Pataille Marsannay Rouge ’07 “La Montagne” – like the Villaine wines earlier, and the Simon Bize ’07 Bourgogne Rouge we had later for a “light” dinner at La Gourmande, a fresh, pretty young wine.

After lunch we took a stroll out of the hotel, walking north along Rue l’Aigle, along a quiet residential street, and after less than a mile, directly into the vineyards of Beaune-Greves. Unbelievable. Breathtakingly clear, sunny, mildly breezy, this was as idyllic a walk in the vineyards as you could ever imagine. I’d never spent much time in Beaune, always too busy tasting in cellars. It’s a lovely little city. The idea that you could live in a house a few steps away from some of the greatest vineyards in the world, well, I guess somebody’s got to do it.

Tomorrow we do three winery visits – those left standing will return to Ma Cuisine for another meal…A bientot.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

France Trip Day Two - Dublin to Paris to Lyon to Beaune

Whew! This was a busy day of travel, flying from Dublin to Paris, taking the TGV to Lyon, then regular train to Beaune. Went off without a hitch, though. In fact, we were early into Paris via Aer Lingus, spot on time with French rails - just like the USA. Not. I know what you're going to say - what about the strikes? True, but when the trains run here (most of the time, actually), they run on time!

We're staying at Hostellerie Le Cedre in Beaune - beautiful hotel, with a lovely restaurant we just left. The wine:
Philliponnat Champagne Brut Rose NV - with a yummy amuse bouche that included a salty carrot tempura and sweet watermelon/...some other fruit which I can't recall/creme fraiche thing.
Domaine de Bongrans Macon-Villages '01 - totally botrytis smells (APRICOT), but dry and silky; absolutely incredible with a pressed Brittany lobster/asparagus/...other stuff...sorry, I need to get some sleep!
Bruno Clair Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru Les Cazetieres '00 - with sliced Charolais beef, cauliflower puree, baby spinach leaves. This one was deep and gamey, almost decadent. A sensational match with the Charolais beef.
d'Angerville Volnay 1er Cru Clos des Ducs Monopole '01 - with all local cheese plate, which included a spectacular piece of Citeaux. Wow, this was so fresh - brilliant, dazzling still-young wine.

It seems we've established a pattern - we close down whatever restaurant we choose for dinner.

Tomorrow we have one appointment - de Villaine in Bouzeron.

OK, I give. Stay tuned for more details tomorrow - sweet dreams.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

France Trip Day One - Dublin, Ireland

Molly Malone, Grafton Road, Dublin

If you're flying Aer Lingus to Paris, and you've never been to Dublin, how can you not take a one day layover? Can't. So, Rich, Mary and yours truly checked into the gorgeous Merrion Hotel in the heart of Central Dublin, and walked our jet-lagged butts all around the town. We saw Trinity College, including the Book of Kells and the Long Room Library; the General Post Office, site of the uprising of 1916, birthplace of the Irish Republic; the Dublin City Gallery, home to Francis Bacon's studio, relocated in its entirety from Paris, where he worked virtually uninterrupted, for thirty years; the Sinn Fein bookstore; Gallaghers Boxty House, where we partook of the traditional boxty (sort of a crepe filled with many choices of meats and seafoods) and jars of stout; another bookstore where I found several of Colm Toibin's other novels (besides the current bestselling Brooklyn); and a walk by Stephen's Green on the way back to the hotel. We napped, then met up again at 9pm to dine at Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud, where I had an incredible meal... Moncuit Blanc de Blancs with a few hors d'ouvres; Leroy Bourgogne Blanc '02 with lobster ravioli; Comte Lafon Volnay 1er cru Champans '02 with loin of lamb; a wonderful selection of cheese and a glass of Simon Bize Bourgogne Rouge '07; assorted desserts, then back to the hotel bar for a shot of Redbreast 12 year old Irish Whisky and a half-pint of Guinness. The dinner was spectacular - no wonder the restaurant has two Michelin stars! Dublin is about the size of Baltimore, with a more concentrated central district that makes seeing lots of sights and experiencing lots of local flavor so easy. Considering it's only 6+ hours from Dulles, and only an hour and a half from Paris, it makes for a great stopover. I'll be back! Tomorrow we catch the flight to Paris, the TGV to Lyon and the train to Beaune. Bon Nuits.