Archive for October, 2011
An interesting trip which highlighted the importance of Terroir in Burgundy and Chablis and contrasted the different approaches of organic and lutte raisonné (? spelling)) to wine making and also the difference of scale between the small producers in Burgundy and Chablis and the evidently wealthy growers in Champagne.
The passion and dedication of the various wine makers came over loud and clear and also what was most interesting was that with the exception of Champagne every grower we visited used manual picking exclusively. Gremillet also use manual harvesting but machine picked grapes are also used in the assemblage and while triage tables were used at Dupont Tisserandot and Chicotot they really were a final catch-all to supplement the careful selection in the vineyard by the pickers.
Garbage in ,garbage out was also the message - The best wines come from carefully grown and handled grapes and also minimal intervention in the winery. Also the use of indigenous yeasts rather than cultured ones again was to the fore.
A further contrast was the degree of computerisation and investment is stainless steel by the different producers, from the relatively modest amount at Dupont Tisserandot and Chicotot and Bois d’Yver via the computerised set up at Pinson with mainly stainless steel to the vast oil refinery-like installation at Gremillet, and yet by Champagne standards they are mere bit players. What is common to everyone is that they all care about getting the best from the grapes during fermentation.
All in all we buy handcrafted wines from enthusiatic and dedicated meticulous vignerons.
The other oustanding point of the trip was the warmth of the welcome that we recieved everywhere and the generosity of the growers in their provision of tasting samples, the quality and amount of lunches provided; memorable items include apple tart with Crémant de Bourgogne at Pinson after magnums of 1er Cru Chablis and the generous amount of Champagne given to us by Gremillet. We were made to feel extremely special yet at the same time almost part of their family in every case. Perhaps the greatest surprise was the huge glass at Gremillet which became a “communion chalice” among all of us with the kind gift of the special cuvée to fill it, not to mention the T-Shirts and the lubrication for the journey back to the airport, all amazing.
We have much to thank each of the producers for and also now have a better understanding of the way they work and the problems they face and are happy and proud to promote their wines.
Languishing on a sofa, wildly sneezing into a handful of tissues and speaking something like the elephant in Mr Dizzy (Mr Men) – I dupose you dink dat’s fuddy – can either be seen as an opportunity for sympathy or a reason for reaching for the brandy. I prefer a good dose of both sympathy and a warming blend of brandy, lemon and honey (local of course). If you’re mixing those three ingredients together it’s probably best not to use the excellent XO from the top shelf, however I can thoroughly recommend a good slug of Hidalgo’s Solera Fabuloso Brandy (and it is rather fabuloso and excellent value) which can’t be beaten.
The Fabuloso is a brandy with a full, rich smooth flavour but with a light touch and a clean, woody aroma with nuances of vanilla and walnuts. You don’t actually need much more than a drop of lemon and a small spoonful of honey (maybe a drop or two of water to help it last that little bit longer), warm it up, and then its perfect soothing properties start to kick in. It’s almost worth sneezing just to be able to sit back and sip this delicious combination.