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Travel Blog: Day Eight

DAY EIGHT  |  Hautes-Côtes de Nuits, Gevrey-Chambertin, Vosne-Romanée, Beaune | 6.13.16


Coffee, baguettes, and Beurre d’Isigny this morning — strikes and lunch breaks notwithstanding, there’s something civilized about a country with a protected AOC for butter.

A half-hour drive over the gently rolling hills of the Hautes-Côtes de Nuits to a new address, this time for crème de cassis. Based on the recommendation of a vigneron in Vosne, we hit the perfect source on the first try. The family has been producing crèmes since at least the 1600s — for some reason that’s as far as their records go — and today makes tiny batches of crèmes de cassis, framboise, pèche, and cerise. After a tour of the workshop and explanation of their biodynamic commitments, we set to tasting the most extraordinary crèmes we’ve ever tasted: at once dense, sweet, vibrant, crisp, and refreshing. An exciting and perfect addition to the Ansonia portfolio, coming this fall.

Lunch back in Beaune, and a few new maps from the Atheneum, then back up to Gevrey for a tasting of back vintages of an old school style. Excellent whites and a 2014 red that should handsomely reward a few years’ patience.

Finally our tasting in Vosne — without doubt a highlight of our annual trip, and this time as good as ever. These are silky, crisp, dense but croquant wines that will be overshadowed by the 2015s, but in any other context would be exceptional. A Morey-St-Denis and Vosne 1er cru stand out.

Afterwards we taste samples from Champagne — extraordinary complexity, and even better than last year’s batch. Plenty to like in the sparkling category. Dinner at Ma Cuisine — a 2010 Meursault, and 09 Vouvray from Huet are stars; epoisses as always, the Fromage des Rois, and Roi des Fromages.







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Travel Blog: Day Seven

DAY SEVEN  |  Chablis, Beaune

This morning, after buttery croissants and homemade Stumptown coffee brewed through an Aeropress and enjoyed on the sunny veranda of our apartment, we drove to Chablis. It’s about an hour and a half to the north — an hour on the highway, and a half on the small, straight country roads of northern Burgundy.

At our first appointment we sampled mostly 2014s — a classic, chablisienne vintage, with great minerality, good acidity, plenty of gras, and an honest, terroir-transparent character. These will find many friends among Burgundy lovers. Our second tasting was a bit outside town; more 2014s and a few 2015s, both excellent and both clean, fresh, and delicious.

But it was talk of the weather dominated the morning meetings. Chablis has had a near-apocalyptic spring, with two violent hailstorms, and a late April frost. The result has been a catastrophic loss of crop — many parcels hit by both frost and hail have lost 100% of their grapes for the year. Others have lost certain cuvées, with certain others remaining untouched. Left to the cruel whim of mother nature, our first producer estimated about 35% of the crop was totally lost and another 15% severely damaged; our second put his losses at 70% — an unimaginable figure this early in the year. Vignerons are used to shrugging off difficult years with a casual “c’est la vie,” but this year is worse than many imagined possible.

We grabbed lunch in Chablis and then made our way back to Beaune, weaving in and out of thunderstorms and sunny blue skies. For dinner tonight we visited what has become a favorite spot in Beaune — the Comptoir des Tontons. Fantastic wines — 2013 Auxey Duresses, 2010 Volnay, and an extraordinary 2009 off-dry Vouvray with dessert. And the food was exceptional: tuna tartare with house-smoked salmon; escargot consommé with mushrooms and sausage; Poulet de Bresse on a bed of peas and spring vegetables.

Tomorrow our day off — samples and email.