CHAGNY, France – There are just a few really huge producers in Burgundy. We visited one Wednesday morning. There are hundreds of “farmer wineries,” small operations run by a married couple or family. We visited one Wednesday afternoon. There are even some very old domains and chateau you’ve never heard of making excellent wine. We visited such a chateau to wrap up our wine visits on this tour.
The common thread between the three was excellent wines. I think I can speak for the eight people on our trip to say it was the most memorable day of the trip. And oh, we wrapped up with dinner at a Michelin-starred restaurant. The dinner was fabulous.
There are bigger wine operations but few better known than Maison Joseph Drouhin. Drouhin wines are widely available in the U.S. Drouhin’s wine caves and tasting room is in the center of Beaune near the famous Notre Dame Cathedral.
There are many caves a visitor can tour beneath Beaune but Drouhin’s are often praised as the best preserved and most interesting. Having done the tour, I can’t imagine a better one. From the centurys’ old winemaking equipment, age of the cave, and the detailed information provided by our guide, the tour was worth every 1E of the 38E we paid.
It was particularly fascinating to hear how Maurice Drouhin built a false wall in the cellars to hide fine wine from the Nazi army during WWII. The famous ‘freedom door’ was a great story of how Maurice escaped the caves and made it to the Hospice de Beaune where nuns helped hide him during the conflict.
We had a great tasting of Drouhin wines in a cave just off the entrance area, including the red Clos des Mouches – Drouhin’s signature Pinot Noir.
We were then off to the country and drove south through the Cote de Beaune. We cruised through the vineyards and past Chateau Pommard and Chateau Mersault. We drove through the nice little village of Chagny and up a nearby hill to Domaine de la Folie. Folie is actually the first property south of Cote de Beaune in the Cote Chalonnaise.
This long-held family operation is small and has a delightful history you should read. Baptiste and Clemence Dubrulle have taken over the winery. In the few years they’ve run the operation, and moved into the old Chateau, they have gotten some notoriety with a great mention in Wine Spectator. They make three whites and three reds along with some distilled spirits. The whites were simply unbelievable for under 20E. The reds were solid.
Clemence, a delightful and engaging host, prepared a bit of a picnic lunch for us in their charming tasting room. She also took us into the vineyards so we could get a first-hand look at the frost damage from this spring.
The Folie wines were as good as or better than any we tasted. So how could they be so inexpensive? That’s a long answer but to over-simplify an answer, most wine enthusiasts have heard of Cote de Beaune and Cote de Nuits. Mention the Chalonnaise and you’re likely to get a shrug.
The visit to Folie was a big highlight of our entire trip.
Finally we were off for our last wine stop in Santenay to visit Domaine Fleurot Larose. The Domaine dates back to the turn of the last century. It was built by the founder of Romanee-Conti.
We started by touring the ancient caves beneath the chateau and winery. The Domaine has a somewhat unusual set of caves beneath a set of caves – or two stories of caves. We saw the moss covered bottles of older vintages and enjoyed the explanation of how the mess protects the older wines.
It was back upstairs to the old tasting room where owner and winemaker Nicolas Fleurot joined us for the tasting. The wines were refined, balanced and tasted as good as anything we had all week.
Our last full day in Beaune ended with an incredible dinner at Bernard Loiseau Des Vignes. Loiseau’s Beaune restaurant has a Michelin star. He also owns two restaurants in Paris. I hope to get up a review with dinner pics later today or tomorrow.
Yesterday ended the Burgundy portion of our trip. So I’m not so sure I’ll have daily posts. I have several things I’d like to write while it’s all fresh. My travel tour group is off to Paris this afternoon where they will enjoy free time for the duration until Saturday night when we take a Seine River cruise. I breathed a sigh of relieve to see the cruises were resumed this past weekend after all the recent Paris flooding.
For now, au revoir!