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Chasing Pineapples

an English girl tasting her way around the world

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December 2012

Quintessential Burgundy… The Secret Wine Room of Volnay!

… Once upon a time, there were two young girls with a passion for food and wine. One beautiful day the girls were exploring the region of Burgundy and decided to make a stop in the tiny village of Volnay, which they heard produced the most beautifully poetic wine in all of the land. They pulled up in their little car which also provided their home for the month, to find the most idyllic little village centred around a tiny church. Ever inquisitive and always in search of adventure, the two girls explored the village and came across a courtyard with a wooden door. After knocking lightly, they were told to ‘entrez‘, so they timidly pushed the door open. The two girls couldn’t quite believe what lay before their eyes… a treasure chest of a room crammed full with wine bottles, receipts, candlesticks, antiques and old fashioned wine memorabilia. In the middle of the clutter was a table, around which were gathered four French ladies, chatting and tasting away. Upon finishing their business, they looked towards the two girls with warming smiles, and asked how they could be of assistance. One of the girls said she was on a quest to find the best wine of the land. The oldest lady took the girls through a number of light and perfumed concoctions which they tasted freely. Upon deciding on their favourite bottle, the two girls went on their way, giddy with joy at what they had witnessed (and with the effects of the potions). What’s more, the kind lady told them of a cosy shelter where they could feast on the finest food in the kingdom, a secret kept between only those in the know. They left feeling extremely satisfied, and continued on their quest, tummies filled and hearts happy…

Very happy with my find
Very happy with my find
The Treasure Chest Wine Room of Volnay
The Treasure Chest Wine Room of Volnay

This fairy tale is a sequence of events that panned out on our trip to Volnay to buy my dad a bottle of his favourite wine for Christmas. When opening that wooden door we were speechless at the pure cliché of the place, yet it was very much real! The wine merchant allowed us to try an array of bottles including a beautiful honied Volnay Santenots and she also directed us to a restaurant in a nearby village where we could experience authentic Burgundy cooking. This local haunt (Auberge de Vieux Vigneron) is usually booked up well in advance, yet she had just cancelled a table for two so told us to snap up the reservation. We ate like Kings, sharing classic jambon persillé and Burgundy snails that bubbled away in a little terracotta pot. To follow was the chefs twist on Boeuf Bourgignon, combining the classic local Charolais beef (grown slowly and given spring water and white shamrock for fattening) with Burgundy snails added to rich Cabernet Sauvignon to create a warming tender stew full of local flavour. We were surrounded by local Burgundy folk, not a mutter of a tourist in earshot, huddled around the burning fire. As we were leaving, we were definitely singing the song for happy Burgundy people ‘Bon Bourgignon‘. What a day!!

Our Wine Friend at the Restaurant
Our Wine Friend at the Restaurant
Bubbling Burgundy Snails
Bubbling Burgundy Snails
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Quintessential Burgundy… ‘My Mate has a Vineyard’

Burgundy has to be the region that most perfectly sums up typical French cooking… every town nestled between those unmistakably coloured vines is bound to have a pot of coq au vin or boeuf bourguignon bubbling away on a hidden stove. Our experience here was certainly on a par with the cooking… classically quintessential! We could hardly believe how many clichés we stumbled across during our short two day exploration of the region’s terroir.

PART 1, “MY MATE HAS A VINEYARD”… THE BEAUNE EXPERIENCE.

Our first experience was a visit to the vineyard of a friend of a friend. Back at the beginning of our journey, whilst enjoying a coffee in a Parisian brasserie, we excitedly discussed plans for our trip with a friend. He casually mentioned that his friend had a vineyard in Auxey-Duresses near Beaune and asked if we would like to visit. We jumped at the opportunity, expecting a small cluster of vines that the friend nurtured as a hobby. Nothing prepared us for where the GPS directed us to. A bit temperamental at times, we presumed that the Sat Nav was having a ‘spazz attack’ as we like to call it. However after re-entering the information we realised that in fact we were at the right place! ‘A friend’s vineyard’ turned out to be the Moulin Aux Moines winery that produced 45,000 bottles per year from 10 hectares of vineyards. We were overwhelmed by the beauty of the beauty and charm of the property; a thousand year old stone house surrounded by a sea of Burgundy vines.

We Could Hardly Believe our Eyes
We Could Hardly Believe our Eyes

We were given a private tour of the vineyards, cellars (where we tried wines straight from the barrel), dove cote and all. Then onwards to the most quintessential tasting room one could ever imagine… a wall stacked from floor to ceiling with grands and premiers crus, a wooden bench with glasses and tasting vessels of all kinds, topped off with a burning fire and huge sofas that would most certainly swallow you up after a wine tasting… dangerous!!

The Tasting Room...
The Tasting Room…

Jordane was extremely passionate about Burgundy wine which he described, like many, as ‘the poetry of the wine world’. Bordeaux wines, he stated, are like novels, heavy and deep; whereas the lighter aromas of the Pinot Noir grape are read and appreciated differently by each individual, each person experiencing their individual appreciation of the Burgundy greats. Our favourite was the Pommard Premier Cru which was spicy yet elegant with hints of liquorice. Chassagne Montrachet came in at a close second with its dry yet succulent golden texture and aromas of flowers and hazelnut.

Creating Poetry of a Different Kind
Creating Poetry of a Different Kind

For our evening’s entertainment, Jordane directed us to Chez Maurice, a wine bar where we whiled away the hours drinking soft and mellow Beaune Premier Cru reflecting the ambience set by a live saxophonist. A wine merchant up front, the bar is only accessible by clambering through crates of wines to an inner courtyard offering excellent tarts (we shared a snail and a butternut squash tart) and cakes as well as their great selection of wines from the Cote d’Or and beyond. Bliss!

Topping off the quintessential experience in Beaune
Topping off the quintessential experience in Beaune

 

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