Travels in Burgundy 2020

staying healthy – but now it also gets complicated…

By billn on March 16, 2020 #degustation#travels in burgundy 2020#warning - opinion!

Much is down to chance, but you can also try to be sensible.

Last week in Burgundy, the Grands Jours de Bourgogne was sensibly cancelled. 600-1,200 people per venue, pressing to get near to their favourite vigneron(ne)s, pouring, slurping, making the wine as intimate as possible with all the wet parts inside their mouths/palates – then probably worst of all, in an explosion of vapour, body-fluids and wine, spitting into the large communal spittoons. It’s not just for the peacock in them that many in the trade wear red trousers! So it was clearly the right decision.

Of course, in what should have been a bumper week for trade, Beaune was dead. Plenty of parking – and the restaurants less than one-third full – the hotels less full than that.

To the side of the Grands Jours are also many other gatherings of vigneron(ne)s and private tastings, many of which that hadn’t been cancelled. I took a view as to what was, more or less, sensible to attend – this is, after-all, my job – it’s the only one I have! The Wednesday gathering of les Tontons-Trinqueurs in Nuits St.Georges didn’t quite meet my threshold – approaching 300 visitors and nearly 40 vigneron(ne)s there were simply too many people – such a shame as it’s a great group of producers. I appreciate that my threshold may be more or less stringent than yours – but as a diabetic, this was my choice. Later that same day was the tasting of the Punition Collective – another worthy group of producers – 24 of them, but only 13 from greater-Burgundy. I arrived early, didn’t taste 2018s that I had already tasted in the last 3 months, and was out in about 90 minutes before there was a bigger crowd – over 150 said that they would come to taste – by the time that I left, there were about 50 tasters. Of course, there were people that would greet only with a bump of elbows, but many were still in full-kiss-mode!

The next day I’d a private appointment – no-problem – or perhaps not – we were three, and one had been at the Tonton-Trinqueurs! In the afternoon there was a superb tasting by a bunch of Beaujolais producers; Thillardon, Desvignes, both Suniers, Ann-Sophie Dubois, Pauline Passot, Richard Rottiers, Claire Chasselay and others – on the open square next to Beaune’s Table du Square. I got there early – I was actually the first! I tasted just about everything that I hadn’t tasted in February – we were in the open-air and really there were very few visitors before 5pm – we had started at 3pm. Again a mix of elbow-bumping, handshakes and kisses…

My last appointment of the day was at the cuverie of Andrew Neilsen of Le Grappin – an interesting group of ‘smaller‘ producers. This tasting started at 4pm – I arrived at 5:15pm – I took one look – and the one photo above – and then left. Social-distancing? Not a chance! Way too many people in a very small place – nope – sorry but nope.

I had one last visit on Friday before I took the road back to Switzerland, one on one, and just one elbow-bump. That was surely okay! I was less happy with the sandwich that I bought at the bakery next to Le Grand Frais in Beaune before leaving – or should I assume bare hands putting sandwiches into a paper-bag to be fine? It was, anyway, probably also made with bare hands! But 3 days later I’m still fit 😉

Now it gets complicated though. With its cultural and geographical proximity to Italy, Switzerland doesn’t have one of the best covid-19 records, and countries that surround the Helvetic Confederation are now ‘closing’ their borders – that includes France. I had 28 different visits and tastings planned for this month’s March report – but so far I’ve achieved only 5. I have 9 more planned for next week, but it looks like I can’t travel to France next week – even if I, and my list of growers, are all fit. I have to hope that my subscribers are patient – it could be a long next 4-6 months.

Still, it could be personally worse; I could work for an airline or a restaurant – or even be sick!

beaujolais visits week 08 of 2020

By billn on February 22, 2020 #beaujolais#travels in burgundy 2020

Beaujolais 2020 visits 3

My third of three weeks of visits – so over 60 domaines’ wines tasted from (predominantly) the 2018 vintage. Next week starts all the typing – online in a little over a month!

Thanks to all the domaines!

beaujolais visits week 07 of 2020

By billn on February 14, 2020 #reports#travels in burgundy 2020

Beaujolais visits, 2020

Lucky with the weather this week. While home in Switzerland was buffeted by the wind and rain – occasionally the thunder, lightning and hail too – the Beaujolais Alps were a much nicer place to be; sometimes sunny, hardly rainy or windy – I was lucky with the weather. My thanks, of-course, to the winemakers that hosted me. That’s two weeks down, one more to go – so you can guess where I’ll be next week again 😉

Plus a few pics from out-and-about during the week:

beaujolais visits week 06 of 2020

By billn on February 07, 2020 #reports#travels in burgundy 2020

beaujolais visits week 1 of 3
#beaujolais

A mix of cold and warm, sun and rain – a great start to my campaign. My thanks to the proprietors/winemakers for my first 20+ visits to taste 2018s – for the February Report.
Now a short weekend of recovery back home!

just a few beaujolais views…

By billn on February 06, 2020 #travels in burgundy 2020

From the last two days:

it’s beaujolais week 1

By billn on February 03, 2020 #degustation#travels in burgundy 2020

Moulin à Vent…of three!

It was 13°C when I left Switzerland for Beaujolais at 5 am this morning – it was 13°C again when I got back to my hotel at 19h45 this evening – but in the middle, it had peaked at 18°C. Now I do remember 23°C last February, but that was the second half of February – when people were pruning vines in t-shirts – but this is so much closer to January!

So, I’d expected rain, but the day got steadily brighter and sunnier – they suggest gales in the night and maybe even snow in the next couple of days – welcome to our weather!

There were also some weekend wines, of course! Now it might look a bit odd, taking 2 bottles of Castagier’s 1997 Clos de la Roche, but as you may have surmised, there was a problem with the first bottle’s cork! On the positive side – yes there was one! – I tend to eat well when there’s a corked bottle, usually, the unspeakable wine ends up as the base for our house variation on Beef Bourguignone – and the Clos de la Roche did make a really great sauce! The second bottle was very good on its own, in a glass! It would be a rebuy at the old price of 60 Swiss francs! The 2010 Pommard Epenots from Rebourgeon-Mure was also lovely but a stricter 2010 that didn’t appreciate following the sweetness of the Clos de la Roche – so mainly was drunk on day two – very complex, lots of depth to the earthy flavour and lovely balance and energy. Give it another 2-3 years for being fully ready – excellent wine that I’d also buy again at the old price. Then were the two Chablis 1ers from 2018; both good – the Seguinot-Bordet the more flighty and higher-toned, the Vorcoret the more concentrated and more overtly Chablis at this early stage in their life. Both delicious and rebuys at today’s prices (shock!)

chablis visits week 4 of 2020

By billn on January 24, 2020 #reports#travels in burgundy 2020

Chablis visits, week 3 of 3 2019

Or looked at another way, week 3 of 3 in Chablis!

of-course, and once more, my thanks to all the vigneron(ne)s of Chablis for their time – 64 domaines in the bag plus one blind tasting for January’s report. But first the small matter of publishing next week my December Report – ‘Les Grands Maisons‘ – plenty of highs and a major low in that one.

As for this week – lovely – also for the vineyard owners; blue sky, sunshine and about -4°C every morning. It’s a shame that I have only portrait pictures! Anyway, I’m now looking forward to something a little redder to open this weekend!

A few views from this week:

chablis trophies and weekend wandering…

By billn on January 20, 2020 #travels in burgundy 2020

Chablis 2020
Chablis ‘centre’

Saturday saw the Concours des Vins de Chablis – a big taste-off of 2018 Petit Chablis, Chablis and 1er Crus, plus the 2017 grand crus!

I didn’t do the tasting. Given that I’m in Chablis for 3 weeks in January, I otherwise wouldn’t see my better-half for the whole of the month if I was there too – instead, the pair of us still took the Autoroute to Chablis, but rather to lunch at Au Fil du Zinc – there’s not much time left, it closes for good before the end of March.

Lunch was actually fabulous – one of my best ever there. If I ask myself, irrespective of price – i.e. if someone else was paying – whether I would rather dine here or at Lameloise, it would be here! Jean-Claude Bessin’s 2016 Valmur was one of my wines of that vintage, so we availed ourself of a bottle of that too – super…

But back to the Concours des Vins de Chablis: a few names that I haven’t previously visited in the list of ‘medals‘ – left – you can find all of the announcements and the list of the winners – enjoy!

And after – just a few photos from the last days / this weekend – picture from and around Chablis mainly, but also a couple from or Sunday morning in Dijon – we had to take advantage of the blue sky 😉

chablis visits week 3 of 2020

By billn on January 17, 2020 #reports#travels in burgundy 2020

Chablis Producers 2020

My thanks to all the vigneron(ne)s in Chablis – my second week, and another 22 domaines in the bag for January’s report.

A week with either cloud or rain – just a few hours of blue sky, but usually during visits – so not a productive week for the camera – outside of producer portraits of course!

Burgundy Report

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