Mark and Bill started the day by heading to Marsannay in the very north of the Côte de Nuits.
A sunny, but smoky, morning greeted them as they took the slow roads through the famous vineyards back southward towards Beaune. Winter pruning is in full swing as the farmers make the most of the clear conditions and farmhands follow with mobile incinerators that created a hazy glow and thick wood-smoke scent to the day. The ambience was perfect.
A quick breakfast of strong coffee and croissant - très Bourgognoise -
was had in sunny Nuits-St-George. A little caffeine and a few calories to help carry them further down the Cote D’Or to their first meeting of the day in Viré, seemingly far to the south in the Mâconnais.
- Domaine Gondard-Perrin | Viré -
They were greeted by the smiling, and totally charming ,winemaker Franz and his mother. Franz allowed the chaps to taste some truly amazing wines of Viré-Clessé from the, as yet unbottled, 2021 vintage.
2021 proved an incredibly difficult year for most producers in Burgundy, with a touch of early warmth forcing the vines to bud, before a catastrophic late frost left most growers up against the ropes. A following blight of mildew and rot saw the amount of juice available shrivel to around just 33% of expectation. That being said, the grapes that did make it to the wineries have offered incredible juice and wines of real character. The lack of quantity meant that Franz was obliged to use more oak barriques than he would usually do. There quite literally wasn’t enough juice to fill the steel vats he usually fills.
- Domaine Maxime Dubuet-Boillot | Volnay -
Next up was a trip to Volnay and the charismatic, exciting, young winemaker Maxime was there just in time. Very hands-on, he made his way back from a full morning and afternoon of pruning with his small team at their sites of only 6.5 hectares.
Maxime is no stranger to the wine world and comes from a long line of Burgundian grape growing and winemaking heritage. However, he wasn’t always convinced about his future and spent some time as a mechanic at Le Mans. Thankfully, the time away gave him the perspective to realise that Volnay is where he needs to be. He returned there in 2016 to forge his own path at the head of a new generation of Burgundian winemakers.
He excitedly walked Mark and Bill past the houses of his uncle, grandmother, and father on the way to his favourite cellar (owned by a family friend and used by Maxime to house the oak barrique of 2022 juice). The boys were in for a real treat, being able to taste these wines straight from the barrel: supple, gamey, exciting - watch this space for news regarding their release.
It was back to the workshop - yes, we do mean workshop - to sample more wares from 2021 vintage. Sadly, Maxime has suffered the same fate of many in Burgundy with 2021 providing
little juice to work with. However,
his many ways and methods he has to make sure that the final wine is maximised, and holds the very best character from the raw materials he had to work with. What followed were
Noirs of pure invention and joy in his craft. We can't wait to try his wines from a classically "good" vintage!
- Domaine Cacheaux | Vosne-Romanée -
Wishing Maxime a cheery “farewell” it was back on the road to Domaine Cacheaux at Vosne-Romanée.
By this time it was dark and Gérald Cacheaux was at the steps of his house, ready and waiting to open the cellar doors and let the group in to see his operation. Small and tidy, the winery was the polar opposite to what one may expect of Burgundian wine producers. A perfectly damp cellar housed several barrels of juice, along with a quaint tasting area and immaculate vinification room.
Again, Mark and Bill were treated to pipettes of samples, straight from the source as Gérald poured them sip after sip of his latest wares.
From Cote D'Or Bourgogne Rouge, through his Chambolle-Musigny and Vosne-Romanée offerings, the wines were delicate yet bold, subtle but exciting and the perfect way to end a long day of visits and travel.
With the last sip of Vosne-Romanée 1er Cru “Les Suchots” lingering on their tongues (what a wine!!!) the Caviste duo joined a small group in Beaune for supper before heading back to digs for some well-earned rest.