Monday, 15 July 2013

French Holiday 3 - Beaujolais and Burgundy

Julienas is typical of many villages in the Beaujolais, nestling in a valley surrounded by vines. Its a pattern that repeats all the way down to the south of the region. We stayed at Chez la Rose, a Logis in the village centre. It was a real find and we talked to other guests who had been using it as a stop over for years. The room was excellent and the food wonderful. There is an added bonus for walkers with a map from the hotel. Four different 8-12 Km walks start and finish in the village centre. We did the Circuit de la Montagne de Remont in about 2 hours giving us great views of the surrounding areas. I know that Beaujolais wine has a mixed press but the dark side of it's reputation is based on the banality of Beaujolais Nouveau. Single village Beaujolais in good years, eg 2009 and 2011 is not only excellent wine but very good value red when you think of the prices being charged in Burgundy just up the road. We bought halves of Domaine de la Combe Darroux, Julienas that we tasted at dinner. Further south we bought some 2011 Chenas at Chateau de Chenas as well as their gold medal winning Thesaurus, 2009 veille vignes wooded cuvee.
Where the Beaujolais ends in the north, the Maconnais begins. Just off the Macon-sud interchange it's a stone's throw to the cave at Vinzelles with it's enormous range of whites from the area. It has all the Pouilly villages and districts plus Saint Veran. We got a nice mixed case. Going deeper into the area took us to the village of Fuisse and the Burrier cave. Again the selection was vast but we concentrated on his excellent
classic Saint Veran. We tasted expensive wooded offerings that were.....not nice! Our next move took us north to Puligny Montrachet, pretty near the top of the tree for white Burgundy. We stayed with Celine and John Nicholls at Domaine des Anges in the central square for the first night and at Hotel Chouette round the corner for the second, both highly recommended. Again walking and wine was the theme. John kindly introduced me to local producer of village Puligny Monrachet, Alain Chavy before we struck out to Auxey Duresses to find the cave of Michel Prunier where we'd bought his veille vignes cuvee on an earlier visit. A quick stop at Wine Society favourite, Henri Prudhom followed by a visit to Mersault finished our tour .
 We then did a fantastic walk all the way up through the vines, first the village wines then the Grand Crus on the slopes. Near the top we caught sight of a horse and plough being used to turn the ground between the vines. At the top we were rewarded with a view of St Aubin on the other side of the slope where the wines are mercifully cheaper. On the way back we passed  a sixteenth century oratoire that commemorates the couple who owned the vineyard then. 

We dined at the Hotel Montrachet and next night had the tasting menu at Olivier Levevre's establishment. Both were excellent. Our overall impression of the Burgundy whites that we tasted was that they all seemed a bit too acidic and weak on the 'butteriness' that we expect and hardly value for money, but it's nice to have some in the cellar. Below is the total of our wine purchases on the trip, another reason for having a sturdy Volvo.
We were highly amused to hear every day from the French that 'pas de problem' has been systematically replaced by 'pas de soucis' so 'no worries' has translated well into the French vernacular, doubtless to the chagrin of The Academie Francaise, guardian of the language.

Novels by Alan Calder
The Glorious Twelfth published by Museitup
 The Stuart Agenda published by Willowmoon


  1. Wow, Alan! That's quite a bit of wine!
    Enjoy it, both of you.
    Lovely pics, interesting article as ever.

  2. I wish I knew more about wine so I could appreciate all you've written here, Alan. I do enjoy your photos. Thank you!