It was a very early start for us the next day. Sadly the weather was still rather miserable and it was quite foggy as we headed out, with patchy rain. We found the train station in Beaune without any hassles and met our tour guide. Turns out we were the only two people who were booked for the tour that day. We booked a full day wine tour with Burgundy On A Plate. My first choice, Taste Burgundy was booked out so this was my second option. It was 265 euro each for the Premier and Grand Cru tour of Côte de Nuit. We were very excited and were really looking forward to learning more about Burgundian wines, hence the tour.
Sue told us that in Burgundy, it’s all about the terroir and nothing else. That concept took awhile to get our head around, as it is such a foreign concept to Australian wine-making. Surely, the type of grapes used, the different weather changes each year would still somehow impact the vintage, we asked… She did not answer. Brandon was beginning to get annoyed with Sue’s disdain and disregard for everything non-Burgundian. Maybe it was a personality thing. I’ll admit I found her rather stand-offish and abrupt. What we know now is that while the AOC regulations allow up to 15% total of Chardonnay, Pinot Blance and Pinot Gris as accessory grapes, it it practically never used in Grand Cru vineyards. So all the red wines in Burgundy are pretty much just Pinot Noir and nothing else. Hence, the terroir gives the wine its character, and it was quite amazing to find how different the wines were between AOC regions. If Sue had given us this explanation right at the start, we probably would have found our footing a lot quicker with the tour.
We visited 3 different domaines, places we normally would not get to without a guide. Our first visit for the day was to Domaine Lucie et Auguste Lignier. We were quite surprised to find that the vigneron was a young woman named Kellen. She was bubbly and friendly. We tasted premier cru wines from Morey St. Denis and she explained to us the chemistry side of wine-making, which we found fascinating. It did make everything seem a bit more accessible to us, especially when we could understand the science of it. To show us the different stages of wine-maturing, we got to taste wines out of her barrels, even the ones that were fermenting. The wines were an eye-opener for us. They had so much character and depth, something we don’t see often with Australian wines. We jokingly told Kellen that there must not be any bad wine in Burgundy. She laughed and to illustrate her point, gave us some Aligoté.
Our next stop was Domaine Pierre Amiot & fils. The vigneron at this domaine did not speak any English so we relied on Sue’s translation. I caught bits and pieces of what he was saying, but my comprehension of the language wasn’t enough, and he spoke too fast. We tasted his premier and grand crus. We liked two bottles in particular and decided to take them with us.
All our wine-tasting was done in the domaines’ wine-cellars, which was such an interesting experience compared to the often impersonal and sterile tasting rooms we usually find here in Australia. We spent a lot of time with the vignerons, which was amazing. We really appreciated their time as the day of the tour was the day before 14th of July, and most French people would be getting ready to spend time with their families. The wines were amazing but sadly they were impossible to ship back home but the vignerons happily provided us with the names of their importers in Australia.
Lunch at our designated restaurant was pleasant enough but rather unremarkable. After lunch, we stopped by at a couple of landmarks. We stopped by at Château du Clos de Vougeot, and of course the famous vineyard of Romanée-Conti.
Our last stop for the day was Domaine Rossignol-Trapet of Gevrey-Chambertin. At Domaine Rossignol-Trapet, Monsieur Rossignol, the vigneron, was so amazingly friendly. He spoke fluent English so he spent so much time answering our questions and he let us taste his grand cru wines out of the barrel. He had travelled to Australia so he had a basic understanding of Australian wines and how they were made so he gave us a very good explanation of the differences between Australian and Burgundian wines.
So finally, after much hard work, and a full day of wine-tasting, we finally understood the significance of terroir in Burgundian wines. Perhaps, Sue herself would have been able to explain that to us much earlier if she had a bit more understanding and knowledge of other wine cultures. All in all, it was a good day and the wines were amazing. We would love to return to Burgundy some other time. I’d hope by then my French would be strong enough that I’d be able to call up to make the appointments myself with the domaines.
Our dinner that night was at our B&B and it was delicious. Jan did the cooking and it was really very good for a home chef. His dessert, a pecan pie of some sort was to die for. Conversation was very lively at the dinner table. There were some newcomers and everyone remained very fascinated by the two Australians. We swapped travel stories and got some travel tips for our next destination – Venice. There was lots of woots when they realized we were on our belated honeymoon. A young British couple had lots of questions for us about our wine tour and our dinner at Maison Lameloise. It was way past midnight when we finally turned in for the night.