The Joys of Burgundy, Beaujolais & Truffles

The Joys of Burgundy, Beaujolais & Truffles

There is blossom on the trees and spring is in the air.  There is no better way to celebrate this special time of year than a road trip.  In fact, we celebrated by taking the whole of the Earle Wines team on a trip to ‘Les Grand Jours de Bourgogne’ in Burgundy, an  wine event held every two years bringing together ‘vignerons’ from this famous area.  It’s an amazing chance for us to spend time sampling and discussing some incredible wines and meeting friends, both new and old.

We began our trip in style with a pit stop at the Domaine Truffier du Grand Merlhiot.  This incredible truffle farm lies deep in the Perigord region, an area known for it’s extraordinary gastronomy. The farm is owned by Henri Parent, the vigneron behind some of our favourite Argentinian (Bodega Monteviejo) and Pomerol wines.  We enjoyed sampling his Chateau Le Gay Pomerol 2014 and Chateau Montviel Pomerol 2011 together with truffle infused food beside the fire.

From there we took a jaunt into Beaujolais to meet with some of our old friends, Jean-Marc Lafont and his wife Annick, with whom we have worked for a quarter of a century.  They kindly invited us into their cellars to sample vintages new and old various Crus Beaujolais.  Of course, the old favourites Fleurie and Brouilly were tasting wonderfully, as was the Moulin à Vent and Chiroubles, wines to truly grace the best tables.  It was great to spend time with the Lafonts but we had to press on.  We wove our way through beautiful Beaujolais, past Morgon, Chiroubles, Chenas and Saint-Amour before stopping for lunch in the village of Julienas at ‘Restaurant Le Coq’ where we enjoyed the region’s most famous dish, Coq au Vin.  If you’re passing through, do stop. You won’t regret a single bite!

Monday morning dawned bright and early in the beautiful village of Levernois, near Beaune.  There wasn’t a moment to take in the village ambience as we had meetings to attend, wines to sample and new exciting partnerships to make (more on that in a moment!).  We met Jean-Philippe Marchand, a well-known producer in Gevrey Chambertin. Our relationship with him goes back many years (hosted Tastings with us at Cambridge University), and it was wonderful to catch up and to have the pleasure of tasting his wines from the barrel in his atmospheric cellar. These won’t be bottled until later in the month but I can give you a sneak preview…

-The Montagny 1er Cru 2023 is particularly good. The nose presented hazelnuts and broom with a hint of witch-hazel. On the palate, the wine was fresh but had creamy undertones that gave a long finish to the wine.

-The Aloxe-Corton 2023 was the standout red from the wines that we tried ‘en barrique’ - rounded and showing softness even at this early age. It was bursting with Kirsch and cherries with a delicate prune layer coming to the fore. On the palate raspberries and other red fruits were pronounced. An excellent rounded wine that could be enjoyed today!

After a quick baguette lunch grabbed in beautiful Meursault, the afternoon saw us tasting wines from a potential new supplier.  We’ll keep their name under our hats for now but I can tell you that they have a significant selection of wines from across Burgundy’s beautiful appellations. We drove out for a sensational tasting under a beautiful, solitary cherry tree that has watched over these vineyards for the last century. We’re excited to introduce you to this new producer and I promise more on this in my next correspondence!

Tuesday passed in a blur in the Côte de Beaune as we met with a host of producers who wanted to present their wines from the appellations across the region.  I’d love to say I sampled everything but with so many on offer, we did our best to divide and conquer!  We spent the afternoon at the glorious Domaine Latour in Aloxe-Corton where we tasted an array of the region’s favourite wines from Corton and Corton-Charlemagne.

By Wednesday our stamina was starting to fail.  After so many pleasures, the appetite does start to dwindle.  But with some serious wines on offer we had to pull up our socks, sharpen our palates and get ready for another day of hard work!  We started with a tasting from Domaine Jacques Saumaize, Vergissson (near Pouilly Fuissé). We were first introduced to this producer many years ago by the Head Sommelier at Georges Blanc’s (3 Michelin Star) restaurant in Bourg-en-Bresse (famous for the special ‘poulet’), and we are proud to have worked closely with this incredible Domaine ever since. We were delighted by the new vintage of their Pouilly-Fuissé, Saint-Veran and Macon Bussières.

Crémant de Bourgogne wines were also in full swing, providing us with the opportunity to meet Domaine Chollet and sample their new vintages.  We tried other Crémants, but couldn’t help but feel extremely satisfied that our offering was by far the best Crémant there!  We were equally thrilled to discover an incredible new innovative producer from the village of Viré-Clessé whose unique style of wines we’re excited to introduce.  Perfect for the summer, we’ll be sure to let you know when they are safely in stock, well in time for garden party and barbeque season.

That afternoon, we were welcomed by our old friends at Domaine Justin Girardin in Santenay (near Chassagne Montrachet) . Justin’s grandfather was the first person to plant Chardonnay vines in Santenay 50 years ago.  They are longstanding suppliers of some of our most popular Burgundies. We mainly tasted the 2022 vintage from the various appellations where they have plots of vines .  They are all excellent, either to drink now, or to keep for 3-5 years. I appreciate that this reads more like the trailers before a feature film, but I can promise they will be worth the wait!  In the meantime, we are fortunate to have some of the 2021 vintage still in stock.

On Thursday we moved further south to stay in the heart of the famous village of Puligny-Montrachet.  There, deep in Cote Chalonnaise , producers of Givry, Mercurey, Montagny and Rully were presenting their 2022 vintages. We caught up with suppliers we have worked with before and some new producers who impressed us with their wines and dedication to the craft, watch this space!  That afternoon we were lucky to enjoy the incredible weather as we toured around some of the most beautiful and famous appellations the region has to offer, including Chassagne-Montrachet and Vosne Romanée. I hate to rub-it-in, but while March winds and April showers hit the UK with more than their usual ferocity, we were accompanied only by sunshine!

Friday was the final day of the Les Grand Jours de Bourgogne and was held at the at Château de Clos de Vougeot (where the Chevaliers du Tastevin meet for their famous soirées).  There were over 200 producers gathered to show their wines, and with some of the most expensive wines in the world represented, it was no surprise to see top players from the global wine industry come together for this remarkable day.

All in all, it was an extraordinary week.  We are extremely excited to share our new finds with you.  But we’re also delighted to know that some of our old favourites are still ‘best in class’.  No matter where our wines come from, be it Burgundy, Beaujolais or Maconnais, each is ‘hand-picked’ to ensure we only ever give you wines we love.

As the summer approaches and we start to see longer evenings, and perhaps, dare I say it, the clouds may even part at some point, we have some wonderful selections for you.  So as ever, please do get in touch and we can stock up your cellar with the most wonderful wines from Burgundy and beyond.

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