26. BUYING TRIP TO FRANCE Part 4
After our brief visit to Damien Gachotâ€™s house we grabbed some lunch before going on to Monsieur Fornerot in Saint Aubin. I discovered this small domaine recently through a bottle that a helpful, friendly customer had given me. I was so impressed I arranged to go and visit him. He makes delicious, ageworthy whites, from Premier Cru vineyards in Saint Aubin (Les Murgers des Dents de Chien and La ChateniÃ¨re) and Puligny-Montrachet (Les Champs Gains). He is also a nurseryman, and the room where we tasted had trugs around the place full of Chardonnay cuttings.
We tasted his Pulignys from 2009, 2008 and 2007.Â And we tasted his two Saint Aubins from 2009 and 2008. His whites are classic, firm white burgundy, lightly oaked (20% new barrels), with an appealing steeliness that gives them longevity while making them fine for drinking young as well. I had arranged to collect a little order from him, since I needed to top up my stock. He told me that he did not have the order ready because the system for the â€œpaperworkâ€ for Customs had changed and it now had to be done online. He didnâ€™t know how to do it â€“ my order was the first one he had had to process. He thought he might be able to get it ready the beginning of next week (today was Thursday). Was he sure he could get it ready then? Because we were heading south on Monday morning, and had an appointment in the Beaujolais in the afternoon. No, he wasnâ€™t sure, but he would see what he could do. I could ring him Monday morning to find out if heâ€™d had any success.
Next, we were off to Pascal Prunier in Meursault for our appointment at five oâ€™clock. He makes a wide range of reds and whites from various vineyard sites in Saint Romain, Meursault, MonthÃ©lie and Beaune. We taste five whites and three reds, all from the 2009 vintage. His Saint Romains, both red and white, represent excellent value: the white is full, rich and ripe, and the red is light, spicy, with bright cherry fruit. His Meursault â€œLes Grands Charronsâ€ is an imposing wine, classic Meursault, and his red MonthÃ©lie â€œLes Craysâ€, from a site just across the road from the limit of Meursault, is a lovely, economical alternative to Volnay, with a glorious smell that positively jumps out of the glass.
The next day, Friday, we collected some sample bottles from the Chenu domaine in Savigny-les-Beaune (no tasting â€“ they were away) before going to see Claude Nouveau beyond the end of the CÃ´te de Beaune in a tiny hamlet called Marchezeuil, just outside the village of Nolay. Here we tasted 3 whites and 6 reds. His Maranges Premier Cru â€œLa FussiÃ¨reâ€ 2008 (a red) particularly stood out, with its mouthfilling fruit and ampleur, as the French say. The Nouveaus then took us out to a grand restaurant in Puligny-Montrachet, Le Montrachet, for lunch.
We headed off into the afternoon well fed â€“ to visit the Diconne family in Auxey-Duresses. Here the son, Christophe, has recently taken over from his father, who is a great character; although Christophe conducts the tastings, his father has a habit of finding something to do in the background. We started by tasting the 2009s in tank, before going into the tasting room to taste earlier vintages from bottle â€“ 4 whites and 10 reds. The wines here are on top form, very exciting, with his Meursault â€œLes Narvauxâ€ extremely good value for a wine of this quality.
Over the weekend we went to Corgoloin for the festival of Saint Vincent, patron saint of winegrowers. Saturday was a gloriously crisp, sunny winterâ€™s day. Each year, a village in Burgundy hosts the festival. It is a huge event, with a commensurate budget (Gevrey-Chambertin were the hosts in 2000, and it nearly bankrupted the village), and in 2011 Corgoloin was the host, with Damien Gachot PrÃ©sident; 50,000 people turned up, and it was a great success. All the villagers get involved, making paper flowers and decorating the whole place. This year the theme was French regional food, with stands selling things such as cheese from Savoie and tripe from Normandy, punctuated by frequent watering-holes where you are given tastes of wines from the growers based in the village. It is a very jolly event.
On Saturday night, we went to the banquet in Nuits Saint Georges, in a vast ancient cellar, which we finally left at 1.30 am, after singing Burgundian drinking songs, watching various entertainments and listening to a short speech by Damien.
The next day, Sunday, we went back to the Saint Vincent. It was cloudy, completely overcast, and the wind was blowing from the north. It was bitter. The thermometers around Corgoloin were reading minus 6.
The next morning I woke up feeling distinctly off-colour.
We checked out of the hotel, and motored off to see M. Fornerot. Happily, our wine was ready, waiting for us. He opened some bottles of older vintages of his wine for us to try, and sent us off with a magnificent box of chocolates from a master chocolatier.
Next week â€“ Beaujolais and further south