10:42PM | Épernay | Champagne
We leave Beaune this morning under cloudy skies. As the fog lifts and the drizzle clears, we drive northwest to Chablis, Burgundy’s satellite region. Our first appointment is en centre ville — a family producer of classic, mineral Chablis. The 2013s are perhaps the best they’ve made in recent memory, full of life and energy, and in perfect balance.
Our second visit is just outside town, where we taste from bottle and cuve; a softer, riper style that nonetheless retains the classic chablisienne minerality. Both domaines feature Chablis’s extraordinarily good pricing, and we look forward to stocking up from both. After a quick lunch in Chablis, we drive further north towards the Côte de Bar, Champagne’s southern region.
Our 2pm is one of four new Champagne producers we’re visiting on this trip, an effort to expand our lineup to include this most famous source for bubbles. The feeling of the business here — scale, dress, culture — is entirely different from Burgundy, and takes some adjusting. We tour amphitheaters of vines, full of chalky white soil and steep slopes, and cool dark warehouses of wines on their lees — the visit is an extensive and helpful crash course in the region, and the wines are delicious as well.
Dinner in Épernay; a day off and visit to Reims tomorrow.