This year it was my turn to go to Burgundy and pick up the barrel samples for our annual Burgundy En Primeur Tasting, and I was delighted to take on the challenge!
We left a rather wet and dreary Dover early Thursday morning and arrived in Calais an hour and a half later. It was wonderful to be in France again after such a long time.
The Capital of Champagne
Then it was time to scoot down the Autoroute to Reims for a stopover before going onward to Burgundy. And what a beautiful place it was to spend the evening. Dusk had just settled in as we drew near the towering façade of Reims Cathedral, and there was just enough time to go inside to see the magnificent vaulted interior and richly-coloured stained glassed windows of this gothic masterpiece, where the Kings of France were once crowned. Then it was time for a glass of Champagne and some oysters - well it would have been rude not in the region’s capital!
Next morning we headed down the Autoroute again towards Burgundy, where the first stop was Domaine Fourrier in the village of Gevrey Chambertin, followed by Arnoux Lachaux in Vosne Romanée, just down the road. It was remarkable to see how closely packed all the different Domaines were in each village and really useful to relate all those complicated wine names into real geographical places!
With no time to stop, we continued on through Beaune down to Domaine Roulot in Meursualt, passing wave upon wave of vineyard as we went, all very barren-looking in January, with just a few solitary figures feeding off-cuts from pruning into small fires.
Then back to Beaune again and the Hotel des Remparts where a great stack of all the other samples awaited us, very kindly guarded by the hotel owners.
The following day we were free to wander round Beaune’s beautiful and historic centre, where luckily we were in time for the weekly fine food market, boasting a huge number and variety of stalls supplying products and specialties from Burgundy and the surrounding regions. After a long day of meandering round the city, we rewarded ourselves with a delicious dinner at Caves Madeleine – an intimate and relaxed little restaurant, where guests sit at a long communal table surrounded by shelves of bottles, which the obliging host was very happy to discuss and recommend.
Back to London
The next morning it was time to say goodbye to the lovely city of Beaune and our warm and hospitable hosts at the Hotel des Remparts and head back North to Calais, then Dover and straight on to Ironmongers’ Hall in the heart of the City of London to deposit the samples in time for the tasting.
I thoroughly enjoyed my whirlwind trip to Burgundy which served only to whet my appetite for a return visit!