Sunday, January 24, 2010

Volnay and Beaune, 5th Jan



At 12.20 we emerged from Domaine Parent and set off along the road to Volnay, only about a mile away from Pommard. We were walking along a nice little road with vineyards on either side, but it was bloody freezing and we were looking forward to arriving at our lunch destination which according to the Michelin guide had a "warming fire" in the winter. But there was no sign of it, so after a while we looked at the map and worked out that it was on the main road, the N74, further down the slope. This necessitated a hasty shortcut through some frozen vineyards but eventually we made it, had a great 4 course lunch for 19 euros, and harmony was restored.

Then it was back up the slope to Volnay to visit Vincent Perrin, a recent discovery of ACC's. He earned a place in our good books right away when he suggested having the tasting in his kitchen rather than in the cellar, as it was so cold. This offer was gratefully received, and we sat round the kitchen table and worked our way through his wines.

First up was a St-Romain blanc 2008 which had a very floral and peachy nose, and lime on the palate. It was very zingy, not what I expect from a chardonnay, but I think it could be an amazing wine for the summer and I can't imagine anyone not liking it.

Then we had the Bourgogne Rouge 2008 which Vincent told us came from vineyards near the N74 so it was nice to think perhaps we'd walked through them earlier. This had a dark purple colour, a vibrant cherry nose and was light and refreshing if rather acidic due to its youth - the sort of wine I regard as a picnic or lunchtime wine, which is a style I enjoy very much.

After that we went on to try his 2008 Volnays, which were elegant and well-balanced, and supple as Volnay should be. I was particularly impressed with the Volnay les Gigottes 1er cru Monopole which had an enticing, jammy nose and was richer than the others - ACC thinks it will need 5 years to come round. We also tried a Pommard village-level wine, les Chanlins, which is made from a vineyard on the border with Volnay and seemed to have the best of both worlds - tannin and structure but also smoothness. I'll definitely be looking out for these wines in future.

After this we spent a few minutes hanging out in the square in Volnay waiting for the taxi, and enjoying the smell of the smoke from the burning of the old vines, before heading back to Beaune for shopping and an appointment at Maison Fatien Pere et Fils, where Charlie gave us a whirlwind tasting of 19 wines in an hour. My notes on most of them were articulate things like "wow!" "stunning!" "fabulous!" but sadly they have price levels to match and we can't get hold of them over here so I'm not going to spend too much time dwelling on that.

There followed a restorative cardinale (like a kir but with red wine) in the cafe on Place Carnot, where AM and I compared the decanter brushes we had bought in Athenaeum, much to the amusement of a man at the next table, and then it was time for dinner at my favourite restaurant in Beaune, Caves Madeleine. We had, as always, the 14 euro menu for 2 courses, and kicked off with a bottle of Beaujolais Nouveau 2009 which was lovely, light and fruity - hadn't had Beaujolais Nouveau for years! - with the starter (the herring and potato, of course) and then a bottle of Crozes-Hermitage carefully chosen by Lolo with the main course (the escalope of turkey with a mushroom sauce, of course). As always the atmosphere at Caves was great, everybody was having a good time and the lighting level was quite low which gave it an enjoyably conspiratorial feel.

Then it was back to the gite - transported by Julien the taxi driver, who seemed to pop up everywhere and whom we were getting to know quite well by this stage - for a final glass of ACC's famous walnut liqueur before bed.

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