In the presence of three presidents (no-less!) two from Bureau Interprofessionnel des Vins de Bourgogne – the BIVB’s François Labet and Laurent Delaunay – plus the president of the Association Cité des Climats et Vins de Bourgogne, Benoît de Charette – last week, I had a tour of the soon to open facility in Chablis – one of three such places opening to the public in the next month.
Whilst I’ll reserve judgement on the soon-to-open equivalent building in Mâcon – I’ve yet to see it with my own eyes – this place in the heart of old Chablis seems to be on a very personal scale, fitting well in its surroundings. I’m not the biggest fan of the architecture and scale of what has been built in Beaune but I will reserve my full judgement on that until I’ve seen what’s on the inside – like a bottle of wine – the truth will be on the inside!
This venue in Chablis is (by comparison) compact but full of an almost open-ended opportunity to tour the history – geological and social – of this centre of winemaking – burgundy winemaking. With a small wearable you can choose your language and subject matter as you head down the rabbit-holes of information from the next earpiece – though if your a covid (or germ) -phobic, you may want to take some sanitiser for the earphones that may have cupped a hundred other ears! Released yesterday, there will be ‘programme of cultural events‘ (in all locations) too – so enjoy!
The work on the building’s façade was not quite complete when I visited Chablis but it will be finished before the mid-June official opening!
A few images:
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Somewhat tangential: When we visited Burgundy in June 2017, we unfortunately had only the weekend to spend (we were in Pax Montana for a destination Indian wedding – hence our wine club had only the weekend to travel to Beaune).
It was incredibly difficult to find wineries that would be open to public and entertain our group of 12. In fact we could only visit Chateau de la Cree because I was able to raise them through a contact by their US owners Domaine Serene in Oregon. Also a recent article in Wine Spectator about a US winery opening a brand new facility to have people visit the estate and do wine tastings reminds me: why does the French wine industry not promote more wine tourism? Not the mom-and-pops but at least the bigger wineries can certainly think about staying open on the weekends, and doing some specialized events? Or is that too much of an anathema?
I have some ‘insight’ here 🙂
The issue of large groups is quite multi-faceted: First, it’s the transport, as the maximum capacity bus that you can (locally) hire takes 19 – and what’s tasting in Burgundy if you can’t get to the vines to look at the source of the product?
Then, of course, there’s the inherent problem of larger groups tasting – it’s like herding cats (in my experience) – you have 3 people attentively listening to the winemaker, another three that I have no idea where they are and a further bunch laughing loudly together and chugging the wine – I lived that just once and won’t ever do it again. It’s not exactly fun for the winemakers either.
Then we get to the wine; your group of 12 would need at least a bottle of each wine to taste and that’s getting rather pricy these days – and local domaines don’t charge for tastings – so, in the end, you necessarily have to end up in the realms of producers who are set up to do this kind of thing professionally. In this list I would suggest the obvious: Drouhin, Bouchard Père, Jadot and more recently Faiveley too – I have others that fit for certain circumstances – but at this level it’s certainly pay for play – the dedicated staff, as much as the wine, has to be paid for – and the ones I mentioned are usually available weekends too – or at least on Saturdays…