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- Reality Check – The Low-Sulphur Brigade
- BURGUNDY FOOD AND WINE
- I want a BLT with my DRC
- STORY OF AN HISTORIC DOMAINE
- COTES D’AUXERRE
- DOMAINE DE LA CADETTE, JEAN CATHERINE MONTANET, Vezelay – Organic
- ALICE OLIVIER DE MOOR, Chablis – Organic
THE COTE D’OR
We decided this year to give our Burghound a Beaune
or several to gnaw on and supplement our meagre
selection with some great names. New to the fold are
Patrick Miolane (old-fashioned beetrooty red Saint-
Aubin); Didier Larue (mineral white Saint-Aubin
from old vines); Hubert Lamy (superlative wines);
and Sylvain Bzikot (pleasing Pulignys).
Jean Javillier (Volnay and Pommard) produces
brilliant value Beauness. Simple and unextracted they
illustrate amply that Pinot without new oak is more
charming than a convention of Leslie Philllips.
Northern Exposure. Each year we receive a tiny
allocation of wines from Alice & Olivier de Moor. We
treasure them more than any grand cru Burgundy. The
Chablis cuvées do not conform to expectation – and
are rather wonderful for that. Jean & Catherine
Montanet (Domaine de la Cadette/Montanet-Thoden)
make super fine, chalky-pure whites and reds.
Another natural wine hero is Nicolas Vauthier, the
brains behind the Vini Viti Vinci, negoce operation, or
the ayatollah of Irancy. Pinots that are brilliantly
drinkable, Chardonnays and Aligotés made in the
For hardcore purists (describes us to a t) there are the
bristling whites and wildly cavorting reds of
Dominique & Catherine Derain, the puncturing
antidote to thickly-buttered Chardonnays and claggy
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Burgundy food is big-hearted, rich and comes in large portions. As the region is known for its heavy red wines and Charollais beef cattle,
wine and beef are a common feature of Burgundy food. The eponymous boeuf bourguignon mixes these two elements to make a
traditional Burgundian recipe. The beef is marinated in the wine and then slow-cooked with mushrooms, baby onions, carrots and lardons
(bits of bacon). Coq au vin is also made in this way, but with a chicken instead of beef. All dishes described as being à la Bourguignonne
will involve a similar sauce. On a related theme, the meurette dishes are also made with red wine (but no mushrooms), then flambéed with
marc brandy and served with eggs, fish, red meat or poultry.
Cream-based sauces are common in Burgundy, as are mustard sauces: the andouillette de Mâcon, for example, is served with a mustard
sauce. Mustard is a regional speciality. It was introduced by the Romans and now there are hundreds of varieties made with everything
from honey to tarragon, with flavours ranging from cauterising and fiery hot to pleasantly mild. A classic dish might be veal kidneys a la
moutarde (the Dijon mustard made with verjus not wine vinegar). A good Savigny-lès-Beaune would pick up the earthy notes of the
kidneys and also add some sweetness to the liaison.
Burgundy snails (escargots) are prepared by stewing the snails with Chablis, carrots, onions and shallots for several hours, then stuffing
them with garlic and parsley butter before finishing them off in the oven. Black snails, especially those raised on grape leaves, are the best
in France. Bourgogne-Aligoté is a typical partner; a mineral Chablis and other acid-forward whiter Burgundies would serve equally.
Other than beef, Burgundy has a range of meats including various types of ham, from the Jambon persillé (parsley-flavoured ham in a
white wine aspic) to ham from the Morvan hills served in a creamy saupiquet sauce; poussins from Bresse; rable de lièvre à la Pivon
(saddle of hare); and tête de veau or sansiot (calf’s head). Although not near the coast, river fish abound and are sometimes served as a
pauchouse, poached in white wine, lardons, garlic, butter and onions. Pike, perch, salmon, trout and carp, may be used (amongst others),
red or white wine accompanied by a village Burgundy of either colour. The potée Mirabelle red is a vegetable soup cooked with bacon
and pork bits, as above.
Famous cheeses from Burgundy include Chaource, which is creamy and white; St-Florentin from the Yonne valley; the orange-skinned
Époisses; and many types of chèvre (goat’s cheese) from Morvan (try Goisot’s superb Saint Bris with this). A type of cheesecake called
gougère is delicious served warm with a glass of Chablis.
There are few greater gastronomic pleasures than drinking great wine with simple, wholesome food. Red wines, be they humble or
aristocratic, are choosy about the company they keep. The rules of engagement are more guidelines than commandments etched into
glass. The only qualification is that the flavours are good and that nothing clashes violently. One could, after all, happily drink a Vosne-
Romanée with dishes as diverse as oeufs en meurette, fricassee of cepes, duck with turnips, Bresse chicken and feathered game. Coq au
vin is a casserole made with coquerel that needs to be simmered for a long period in red Burgundy. Although the pot is traditionally
meant to be favoured (and flavoured) with Gevrey-Chambertin, a humbler Pinot will suffice with Grand Cru Chambertin exclusively
reserved for drinking.
The last word should go to Anthony Bourdain, who, in his Les Halles Cookbook, writes forcefully about côte de boeuf: “Serve it with
French fried potatoes and a staggeringly expensive bottle of Burgundy in a cheap glass. Just to show them who’s the daddy.”
STORY OF AN HISTORIC DOMAINE
With remnants of an old Roman wall on the property, an 1100-year-old winemaking heritage dating back to the powerful medieval monks
of Cluny, and nothing butselection massale to replant the vineyards (no clones), the Guillot family has every reason to believe that they
are the oldest organically farmed winery in France. Julien Guillot is the contemporary steward of this land, worked by his family since
1954. That his grandfather was never seduced by the seemingly magical powers of chemical herbicides and pesticides at the height of
their post-war popularity has allowed the Clos to be continuously run by nature’s good graces, abundant soil nutrients, and an
ancient savoir faire passed down through generations of dutiful guardians.
Julien takes his curator’s role seriously. In 1998, he took the farming practices one step deeper into biodynamic viticulture, a much stricter
approach to the science of organic farming that is thought to have been originally established by the Romans and perfected by the monks
of Cluny. He is such an enthusiastic student of history that in 2009 and 2010, he 169elabeling a medieval harvest and the transportation of
the barrels by oxcart to Cluny 9 months later. But as Julien notes, in those times, wines had an alcohol level of only 8%, which is one
factor that led him to become interested in climate change.
With a legacy like Clos des Vignes du Maynes, in an area of Burgundy known for mass-produced, industrial wines, it’s easy to
understand why Julien is such an advocate for tradition. The grapes are harvested by hand and fermented in old oak foudres. Fruit
undergoes partial whole-cluster fermentation, without any additional sulphur or foreign yeast cultures, and Julien leaves the finished
wines unfined and unfiltered to showcase the layers of fruit. He is a disciple of Jules Chauvet and works without sulphur.
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DOMAINE DU CORPS DE GARDE, GHISLAINE & JEAN-HUGUES GOISOT, Côtes d’Auxerre – Biodynamic
The Goisots are perfectionists and this shows in their wine-making. They believe in the primacy of terroir and harvest as late
as possible to maximise the potential of the grapes. The domaine has existed since the 15
century and Jean-Hugues started
working on the wines at the age of sixteen. The Goisots firmly believe that great wine begins in the vineyard and have worked
in organic viticulture since 1993 to protect the soil and nourish the vines. No fertilizers, insecticides or weedkillers are used;
wild or natural yeasts are encouraged. We start with the red, a Pinot Noir – with a sliverette of César – made with rigour and
imagination as La Revue du Vin de France might say. This wine touches the hem of nature. The purity of the nose delights – a
gentle perfume suggesting dried flowers and red fruits. The attack is angular and mineral with the fruit racing along the
tongue. The Aligoté is benchmark: green-gold, a touch “nerveux”, ripe yet racy. Described by the Guide Hachette as the
“best Aligoté in the Yonne”, a statement we would find it hard to disavow. (And an equally good Aligoté in the Hither.) The
(Sauvignon de) Saint Bris is equally stunning: aromatic with notes of peachskins and richly textured. Jean-Hugues has been
described as “The Pope of Saint Bris”. We are collecting popes on our wine list (q.v. Gilbert Geoffroy in Côtes de Duras).
When we get a quorum, we will convene them all and elect an über-pope (after we’ve ceremonially incinerated the vine
clippings), a pope for all seasons and all grape varieties.
SAINT BRIS EXOGYRA VIRGULA
BOURGOGNE PINOT NOIR, CORPS DE GARDE
The estate was created by members of the Montanet family and their friends who were willing to embark on this venture. They
cleared the land and replanted the slopes with 12.5 hectares of vines between 1987 and 1997. Some of the plots of land used
to belong to Catherine Montanet’s family. 18 plots of land spread more or less evenly over the four rural districts which carry
the Vézelay appellation: Asquins, Saint-Père, Tharoiseau and Vézelay. The vines are 20 years old on average. The geology
here is quite unusual as while the granite Morvan massif was coming into being it forced limestone strata up to the surface.
Most of the vineyards are located on the most ancient strata, the Bajocian, or upper and lower Bathonian limestone and
others on Liassic marlstone. The intention is to make honest and authentic wines which reflect the distinctive character of
their region and the climate of a particular year. The Montanets do not resort to so-called “modern” artificial means in their
wine making process in order to achieve this goal. Naturally enough, they hand-pick their grapes and the wine is produced
using traditional skills. César is an ancient red grape from northern Burgundy. It makes dark, tannic wines that are softened
by blending with Pinot Noir. Cuvée L’Ermitage is a blend of Pinot Noir and César. The Melon (same grape as Muscadet) has
a pale lemon-yellow colour, a bright, clean nose, a zingy palate reminiscent of lime-zest and oyster shell and just a hint of
ginger and white pepper from the yeast lees. Oysters and smoked fish, beware; this wine has your number and is coming to get
you. La Saulnier vineyard is a beautiful parcel of land situated on an old road once used by salt smugglers, who extracted
contraband salt from the water at the nearby “Fontaines Salées”. This wine was bottled in March after spending
approximately six months in vats. It has a liveliness and freshness that is very appealing for such an elegant wine. The wine is
bright and fine – silver bells and cockle shells – another wine is our famed collection of oystercatchers.
BOURGOGNE BLANC “LES SAULNIERS”
BOURGOGNE-VEZELAY “CLOS DU”
BOURGOGNE ROUGE “CUVEE L’ERMITAGE”
BOURGOGNE ROUGE “CUVEE GARANCE”
BOURGOGNE ROUGE “CUVEE GARANCE” – magnum
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Oyster – (i) A person who liberally sprinkles his conversation with Yiddish expressions (from The Washington Post); (ii) A
bivalve to be washed down with a good glass of Chablis.
…like a gloomy Analytical Chemist; always seeming to say, after ‘Chablis, Sir?’ – ‘You wouldn’t if you knew what it was
Charles Dickens – Our Mutual Friend
DOMAINE GERARD TREMBLAY, Chablis
Gérard Tremblay and his wife, Hélène, oversee a domain that they inherited in a line of five generations, but which they
have mostly built themselves. With 80 acres of vines under production, most of them in the best Premier Cru and Grand
Cru appellations, their list of Chablis is among the most prestigious in the region.
Tremblay is known locally as an accomplished wine maker. He is justly famous for his ability to draw out the typicity of
distinct appellations, underlining the terroir of his vines vintage after vintage.
these vineyards produce. The entire winery works by gravity, avoiding unnecessary manipulations of the fruit or pumping
Grapes are brought directly from the fields and put into pneumatic presses. The juice is then left to settle for more 12
hours before being stocked in stainless steel tanks with individual temperature controls. Strict hygiene and careful
temperature control are the keys to mastering quality fermentation in Chardonnay. It is a delicate phase, and it is not
surprising to find that the best winemakers in white are perfectionists to an extreme. Average yearly production is around
1760 hectolitres, giving approximately 230,000 bottles per year. Much of the wine is sold directly at the property, though
they do export a limited quantity of their wine to carefully selected markets. They are adamant the Tremblay wines only
appear on wine lists or in specialty shops that can do justice to the quality product they are working to produce.
Understandably, their wines have been noticed by the Guide Hachette, Robert Parker, Dussert-Gerber (who ranks their
Grand Cru ‘Vaudésir’ as one of the top white Burgundies); Revue des Vins de France; Decanter; Cuisine et Vins de
France; Sommelier, etc.
The Petit Chablis is uncomplicated but delightfully crisp and refreshing with easy graceful flavours, the olfactory
equivalent of smelling soft rain on a spring morning (which is what I do for a living!). The basic Chablis is from 10-30
year old vines grown on Kimmeridgean marl. This terrain is formed from exoguira virgule a (fossilised oyster shells) and
the specific gout-à-terroir is said to derive from this. As well as the trademark oyster-shell aromas there is a further
ripeness and secondary hints of mushroom, leaf and honey. The acidity bolts all the flavours into position and accentuates
the richness and the length of the wine. The forty-year-old vines in the Montmain vineyard contribute to the extra weight
in this wine. 30% of the wine is aged in futs de chêne. A fine wine with a profound mineral nose, deceptive weight and a
lingering finish this would go well with something rich and sweet such as scallops or chicken. Set between Preuses and
Grenouilles, the Vaudésir climat is divided into two parts by the track called “le chemin des Vaudésirs”. It has a double
orientation, as roughly half of its vines face due south, whilst the remainder face south-west.
Very steep in places, its soil type seems rather lighter than most, and contains less lime. This increasing “earthiness”
tends to mark the wines, which can be drunk young if one is looking for crispness. The full structure of the wines will take
several years to develop however, as with all the Grands Crus. Their extreme delicacy has given Vaudésir the reputation
of being the
most feminine of all the climats.
CHABLIS – ½ bottle
CHABLIS 1er CRU “MONTMAIN”
CHABLIS 1er CRU “MONTMAIN” – ½ bottle
CHABLIS 1er CRU “COTE DE LECHET”
CHABLIS GRAND CRU “VAUDESIR”
CHABLIS GRAND CRU “VAUDESIR” – magnum
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REGION DE CHABLIS
the tartlet’s ingredients, praises the virtues of the misshapen Roussette tomato as opposed to the tasteless uniformity of the European
Moneyspinner… I catch Caro watching Armande with a look of disapproval. The Chablis is cool and tart, and I drink more of it than I
should. Colours begin to seem brighter, sounds take on a cut-glass crispness. I bring a herb salad to clear the palate, then foie gras on
warm toast. We pass from the political situation, to the Basque separatists, to ladies’ fashions via the best way to grow rocket and the
superiority of wild over cultivated lettuce. The Chablis runs smooth throughout. Then the vol-au-vents, light as a puff of summer air, then
elderflower sorbet followed by plateau de fruits de mer with grilled langoustines, grey shrimps, prawns, oysters, berniques, spider-crabs,
greens and pearly-whites and purples, a mermaid’s cache of delicacies which gives off a nostalgic salt smell, like childhood days at the
seaside… Impossible to remain aloof with such a dish; it demands attention, informality. I bring more of the Chablis; eyes brighten, faces
made rosy with the effort of extracting the shellfish’s elusive flesh…
COLETTE GROS, Chablis
The Gautheron family has been cultivating vines in Chablis for five generations. The current head of the Domaine Alain
Gautheron, is working with his wife and son Cyril in an effort to carry on the family’s traditions. This estate makes classic
Chablis with a clear light gold colour, glinting with emerald green. In the mouth the wine is dry as apple-parings and steely
with perhaps just a delicate hint of violets and mint. Well balanced with lively acidity, the mouth presents notes of hazelnut
and biscuits which add a certain charm and length to the finish. If ever a wine smacked of the terroir: the hard white
limestone and Kimmeridgean soils, if ever a wine seemed to be a combination of light, stone and water, bright, unyielding and
limpid, then Chablis describes that wine. That swathe of acidity will carve through and wash down myriad dishes: from
seafood to andouillette chablisienne, snails, curried lamb, fish with sorrel or Comté.
CHABLIS – ½ bottle
CHABLIS 1er CRU “FOURNEAUX”
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REGION DE CHABLIS
“The year listed on the bottle is not an expiration date – so that 1997 wine is safe to drink”.
ALICE & OLIVIER DE MOOR, Chablis – Organic
Who are those “masked harvesters”, kemo sabe? Alice & Olivier de Moor, that’s who. Typical of the warm nature of the
vintage this is a light golden Chablis fermented in old barrels with a certain waxy texture in the mouth and notes of dry honey,
ginger-spiked butter and cinnamon-spiced apples. The De Moors are one of the few growers who work organically and
without sulphur in the Chablis region. Hi-ho, Sulphur and away! Fermented and aged in old oak the 1902 is Aligoté to age,
extremely tight and high in stony acidity with citrus fruits and herbal aromas, very dense and long. This winespeak does not
do justice to a wine which shimmers with authority – it has dense - or intense - transparency in the way that only wines with
“perfect pitch” acidity can seem to glisten. Then the nose – glacier water buffing up a river stone, gorse flowers drenched
with sea spray, all nostril-arching brilliance and then into the palate - linear, citric (juice plus pith), tears-of-chalk-stony, with
tensile strength and just a smattering of lees spice. Liquid steel, this wine is an exhilarating skate across the palate. To coin a
phrase, it takes you hither and Yonne.
BOURGOGNE-ALIGOTE “PLANTATION 1902”
CHABLIS “VENDANGEUR MASQUE”
CHABLIS “L’HUMEUR DU TEMPS”
CHABLIS “COTEAU DE LA ROSETE”
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