Wine Buying Trip- Part 5

Written by Tom Innes

Wine cellarBeing thoroughly modern, I am going to depart from a simply linear narrative, and tell you about the supper we had on Saturday night, the day before we visited the Gachot’s for lunch, which I recounted in last month’s article.

There is a small restaurant in Beaune in the Rue du Faubourg Madeleine, more like a bistro, really, called Le Comptoir des Tontons. It is run by Pépita and her husband, Richard. They have a very serious cellar. Pépita is about fifty and flamboyant, with jet-black hair (could it possibly be that black naturally?), and dresses in gaudy, beribboned, gipsy party gear. She is as broad as she is tall. Her husband is little, chubby, and busies himself about the place attending to the fabulous cellar. If you go there, allow extra time to peruse the wine list. The food was simple but good. The white wine was simple and perfectly nice. We pushed the boat out for the red wine. It is important in my line of business to try some of the world’s best wines, since they are benchmarks against which I can measure the wines that I buy for my shop. We ordered a mature Grand Cru red burgundy – Latricières-Chambertin 1998 Jean-Louis Trapet, at euro 190 a bottle (getting on for £150 a bottle). It was worth every penny: beautiful, ethereal, it lifted you to places you never even knew existed; wonderful, silky fresh fruit, combined with almost animal scents and flavours, of truffles and what the French call “sous-bois”, with extraordinary length that lingered long after swallowing, and when we finished the bottle we were ready for more – which we didn’t have; we’d already blown the budget.

Now let’s hurry on to Monday morning. We started at 9.30 in Nuits Saint Georges with Philippe Gavignet. We tasted his 2015s first, from the cask. 2015 is a very promising vintage for red burgundy, and Philippe’s displayed deep colour, silky tannins and lots of length on the finish – all very good signs. Then we tasted his 2014s from the bottle, and he has clearly made a success of these. In addition, he makes a white Nuits Saint Georges, which is a blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Blanc. I have once in the past shipped this from him, but it’s not cheap, and therefore rather difficult to sell, but his 2014 was so delicious that I couldn’t resist buying some – and I know it develops really well if it is cellared for several years, because it took me a long time to sell the last lot.