We awoke on Thursday morning in Carolyn Toulmin’s house. Our window gave on to a view of hillsides covered with frosty, hoar-whitened vines. We had a quick breakfast and were off to taste chez Mme. Girardin in Pommard.
We tasted three wines here: her Bourgogne Pinot Noir 2011, which had good, dark colour, a peppery smell and fresh, lively fruit; then her village Pommard – less open at first on the nose, but which opened up after a few minutes, with richer fruit than the Bourgogne and excellent length; and finally Pommard Epenots 2010, a very grand wine, matured in 40% new oak barrels – delicious and juicy with great potential for ageing. I arranged a reservation of each of these wines for shipping after Easter.
We gave Mme. Girardin a pot of our home-made marmalade and headed off to Savigny-les-Beaune to see Juliette Chenu at her domaine, which she runs with her sister. As we kept seeing elsewhere, another very empty cellar because of the short harvests in 2010, 2011 and 2012. Here we tasted six wines, including a Bourgogne Rouge 2011 – the first time I had been offered this wine – it displayed good Pinot Noir character, with nice balance, and I arranged to buy some of this. We also tasted their Savigny Premier Cru “Les Hauts Jarrons” 2011, which, as always for me, exhibited more strongly than the other reds from this domaine the character of Savigny – spicy, peppery, with a touch of something slightly rustic. And we also tasted Juliette’s Chambolle-Musigny 2011, which is not a domaine wine, but is sourced directly from an individual grower, and then the élevage and bottling is carried out at the Chenu domaine – the 2011 was showing well, with nice, rich fruit in the middle and a full, assertive finish. As quantities are so short everywhere, I made immediate decisions to reserve wines for later shipping; and so here I reserved not only some of the Bourgogne, but also the “Hauts Jarrons” and the Chambolle-Musigny. Another pot of marmalade handed over and we were off to collect some samples from the Gachots in Corgoloin.
After a snack lunch of a baguette and saucisson we presented ourselves at Pascal Prunier’s domaine in Meursault. We tasted five wines here, three whites and two reds, all from 2011. The whites tasted pretty uninteresting to start with, but opened up after half an hour. All the wines were showing well, with bright, well-defined fruit.
Another pot of marmalade was dispensed and then we went on to our next appointment, in Auxey-Duresses, chez Diconne. Last year we had been waylaid by Jean-Pierre Diconne (in retirement officially), who had rambled on for an hour, making us seriously late for our following appointment; so this year I arranged the rendezvous for 4.30 in the afternoon – our last of the day so that it wouldn’t matter if we were detained. In the event, Jean-Pierre put in an appearance, but only fleetingly to say hello, and we got away in good time. Christophe Diconne has taken over from his father. He is in his early forties and is a thoughtful winemaker. This is a serious domaine, making ageworthy, interesting, burgundies, both red and white – for instance, I still have a small amount of stock of his 2007 Meursault “Les Narvaux”, which is just beginning to hit its stride, after years of refusing to come properly out of its shell; and a bottle of the same wine from 1996 tasted recently was on top form. The reds age extremely well too, though Christophe makes the wines in a style that allows earlier drinking than when his father was in charge.
In the evening Carolyn cooked supper and invited round a couple of English friends who live in a vast house in Meursault. We drank her Clos Toulmin 2009 – in peak condition, with both fresh primary fruit and some truffle and autumn leaf flavours beginning to develop.
The next morning, Friday, we said our good-byes to Carolyn after breakfast and went to taste in Saint Aubin with Monsieur Fornerot. We tasted his 2009s and 2010s. He bottles after about 18 months, and so we didn’t taste his 2011s. Nowadays everybody is in such a hurry – Decanter magazine conducted a tasting of 2011 Saint Aubins earlier this year, and I was unable to enter Monsieur Fornerot’s wine since it wasn’t bottled. These wines are examples of classic, fine white burgundy of real character and distinction. As you can no doubt tell, I’m a fan!
After Monsieur Fornerot, we made our way to the domaine of Claude Nouveau, where we tasted seven wines, 2 whites and 5 reds, before going out to lunch at a recently reopened (under new management) restaurant in Nolay. Monsieur Nouveau always likes to bring along a special vintage for our lunches, and this year he brought a Santenay Premier Cru 2002 – a delicate, gentle, mature bottle of red burgundy. After lunch, we said good-bye, we gave the Nouveaus a pot of marmalade, and he gave us a bottle of his Santenay Premier Cru 2005, with a waxed top (special treatment for long ageing in his personal cellar).
This was our last rendezvous in the Côte d’Or, the main classic part of Burgundy, and now we set off southwards for the Maconnais and Beaujolais.