Drive economically back to Beaune. Just of the Autoroute; the 'Ermitage de Corton', friendly family hotel. And Bernard comes for dinner. Bernard is my best friend in wine. Despite spending my whole life in Bordeaux I think I must have a Burgundian soul. Worryingly, he is talking of retirement and introducing successors. So, upset, I lose my cool and hit the trough which, of course, is so dreadfully easy in Burgundy.
The following morning Bernard and I do Beaune market together. You just want to buy everything. The mushrooms, cêpes and truffles... Oh, what aromas... to die for. Possibly quite literally. Yves is clicking away all the time - between coughs! is not well! - two ladies bustle up; "so who are they? Are they famous?" Yves gets the shots of us convulsed with laughter he's been after all morning. Buy very pongy alpine cheese. Then go to Volnay.
Just south of Beaune. Bang on the door of the Bitouzet family and young Francois takes us for a steep walk up to his 'Taille Pieds' vineyard (Premier Cru). Now gold in colour, like most of the vineyards since the frost. Hence, I suppose, the name; 'Cote d'Or'. 'Golden slope'? Heart pounding. But may just be that steepness.
Our reward is a session in the cellars with Francois. Started with a Meursault '09 then a Puligny Montrachet '09.
There is nothing in the whole world of wine quite like a tasting in the small cellar of a small Burgundian wine producer. Unlike Bordeaux there's a huge range. Every 'parcelle' of land is vinified and sold separately. So you start with the simpler, younger white and work up to the precious 'Premieres and Grands. Then you repeat the process with the reds.
Then there's the chat. These guys study their wines in micro detail so each wine comes with the grower's view, not just on what it tastes like, but how it evolves in the barrel, in the bottle and in the mouth. These chaps get up very early in the morning for the ploughing and pruning stuff. Cellar work is often evenings when no-ones around. Afternoons are often for this opening of bottles and leisurely hours with clients. It is a mistake to plan for a rapid visit.
Meursault '08 'les corbin'.
Puligny Mont '08 'les levrons.'
Is "Fringant" they say and I realise that after many years use I don't really know what that word means. Sort of a 'Wake up' or frisky wine apparently. Bernard is fringant he says...a 'vieillard fringant'.
Meursault '08 'les sentenants'
Red soil but they make white here. More tannic and mineral. Prefer meursault no 1. Gd food wine tho' - for red meats too.
Meursault 08' les perrieres'
Green rich. 2nd fave. Opens up in mouth.
Volnay '07 'taille pieds'
Virile! Typic of this parcelle. 'Pas mal du tout' says Bernard Vonay.
07 'les pitures'
... richer, starwberry, cherry, long, youthful but uber smooth. Hint of smokey sweet oak. Volnay '05 'taille pieds'
Still quite firm. Not an overt crowd pleaser. Tart cherry stone palate. Skin tannins.
1er cru vougeot '05 'bertagna'
Smooth, pinot noir, smooth..ready to drink..
1er cru Ladoix '07 'les grechots chevalier' 07
There were more as we went round barrels of the amazing '09's, but I must've dropped my notes!