Touring the Hautes Côtes de Nuits today, in particular the Valley of the Ouche. Here is the classic Burgundy canal-boat land, and with plenty of cafés along the way.
Also here is the Abbaye de Bussière, up-market stop-over par-excellence. I took a coffee before an Aston-Martin club came for afternoon tea – the hotel hosted the Lamborghini and Porsche clubs in last weeks too – fortunately none were present while my trusty Scoobydoo took centre-stage in the car park.
Owner Clive Cummings gave me a pre-coffee tour of the buildings and grounds that he managed to buy from the Diocese of Dijon in 2005; “It was used as a retreat for clergy but its upkeep became too expensive. When we came it was all suspended ceilings and water that would freeze-over in the winter” laughs Clive, but behind the ceiling tiles remained the beautiful vaulted ceilings. In 2006 he and his wife managed to open the hotel with 9 rooms in good shape – now they have 20 – up to 30 are possible. With 2 restaurants and 34 staff, they have an almost 1:1 staff-to-guest ratio!
The Cistercian beginnings here were in 1131, but that was ‘take-2’ as their first attempt burnt down and so these buildings were built nearer the Ouche river – just in case! During it’s life it presided over many estates and hundreds of monks, but only 7 remained by the time it became state property at the Revolution. There were multiple owners and uses before it was eventually bequeathed back to the church. The ‘cellier’ is a beautiful building with an old wine-press – much the same as that in the Clos de Tart, the (admittedly cool temperature) ‘cellar’ is basically at ground level – I assume the water-table is a little too high here for ‘depth.’ Clive has plans for a wine club for his regular visitors and tasters; collecting and then storing the wines that the club members will have previously tasted from cask.
I have a feeling that I’ll be returning to test their twice monthly weekend brunches – with a spotlighted winemaker too!