Trip day 3 Burgundy cote D'Or visit Gambal, L. Latour, H. Lignier, Pillot, etc - Printable Version

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- TheEngineer - 08-04-2011 09:42 PM

In my previous post I did not really tell you why it took so long to get to Dijon. I will today. The GSP system we used is from Garmin and they use a map set that is not the most liked when it comes to Europe. It is also highly sensitive to selections and defaults so when you select most use of motorways but no tollways, the system will put you on an extremely convoluted route to avoid tolls but as all many roads are called motorways, it will use anything from an unpaved road to full highways.

Also, I must admit that there was operator error. As we discover each default to reset, the route would change again. I swear I saw some cities three times from different directions. We also drove on our fair share of farm dirt roads.....for miles....... We'd come blasting out of the trees in our Chevy SUV at 65 miles per hour to make blind right hand turns onto major highways....just like the movies.... Exciting but I did not really need that

More than once, we had to stop to find out where we were. None of our phones were getting signals so we could not find out our current position. Our GSP was failing to do the same. Through some ingenious triangulation and just pure hopeless guessing, we pointed ourselves at an intersection that we finally drop towards and got to, not without more drama. We actually overshot this intersection by 3 miles to the west. Then on the way back, missed the highway entry and drove 6 miles further south before realizing that the GPS was taking us back in to the woods away from the highway so we turned around again and made our way back to the firs waypoint. This time we did not miss as all five guys shouted when we got there. This in itself was a major milestone as once we were there, we knew finally where we were and could finally start to go towards the right direction to Dijon.

So when we finally arrive in Dijon, a rather large city with more modern structures than I had originally envisioned. Traffic is horrible as there is a lot of road work around the new convention center. Guess what, the GPS also did not know about all the road closures and had no idea how to get around them. If I ever hear of the word "Recalculating" one more time, I will crush this $!@# GPS. We finally got into the hotel, behind a tour bus....and when their crowd subsided, we tuck in for the evening.

Blurried eyed with just a few hours of sleep, my friends and I get up. They are still looking for #$!#$!@$ drip coffee and a full breakfast. I've explained again and again that the French eat only pastries like croissants and expresso for breakfast. I'm gonna kill these guys before the end of the trip.

We drive the hour down to Beaune and find the winery of Alex Gambal which is our first stop. We had planned on being early so we leave his location and put into the GPS, hospice du Beaune that I had wanted to visit. The @#$!@# GPS took us to the new hospital in a modern suburb of the city. I'm gonna crush this thing at the end of the trip@#$!@#$!. I pull out a map and reset my personal orientation and drove back into the city. We wound an entry way from the ring road into the town of Beaune and park BESIDE the Hospice de Beaune. What a beautiful place. As we had a bit of time, we went into the Hospice and walked around. Humbling indeed the work that the nurses and nuns did here.

We ran back to the car for the appointment with Alex. Got there just in time to find Alex entertaining a crowd from Hong Kong. They were getting married in France and were trying Alex's wine for the event. We got to try the lineup as well. Alex let us know that the wines had in fact been open for four days. As we were tasting the 2009’s they look like long term keepers. My notes are cryptic as we were pretty sleep deprived by this time.


2009 Chassagne Montrachet - very nice nose, fully of fresh lemons, lemon rind, some ripeness and tropical fruits like Pineapple, nicely put together.

2009 Saint Aubin – A bit more austere up front, more lime then lemon and more minerally than the CM

2008 Chassagne Montrachet – very perfumey nose, less ripe and structure than the 09.

2008 Chassagne Montrachet 1er cru Clos st. Jean – a bit more structured than the stock CM, teeth tingling acidity and good minerality but fruit appeared to be muted.

2008 Corton Charlemagne – Rich, much more ripe and density, apples, vanilla, more expressive.


2009 Savigny Les Beaune VV – the vines are apparently more than 50 years old. Alex noted that the 09 season was just perfect, perfectly ripe pips, high levels of tannins resulting in lovely wines. This was one of them, lovely bright berries, crunchy but tight, good balance and always noticing the freshness. Remember, this was opened many days ago.

2009 Chorey les Beaune – perhaps more approachable than any other bottle, can be drunk now frankly, a bit more tart than SLB but very pretty, a bit more structure.

2009 Volnay 1er En Chevret – deeper and spicy than Chorey les Beaune, deep darker berries on the palate, but a bit austere mid palate, very clean, very long.

2009 Clos Vougeot GC – Deep dark nose of berries and floral, nicely structured. Saw 2/3 new oak. Lovely indeed.

2008 Clos Vougeot GC – this was from parcels on the top of the hill. Very aromatic nose, tons of minerals in the nose, bright red fruit, very focused and lifted.

2007 Clos Vougeot GC- very pretty nose, bright red fruit, a bit reserved, minerally again, definitely felt like hillside fruit, nice smooth texture, very fresh.

Alex was nice enough to take us on a tour of his facilities. He showed us the results of many years of hard work, the new fermentation area and equipment he used, the caves and stored bottles. Through it all, you saw a man that was very pragmatic about his life experiences, which is frankly quite refreshing after Champagne. We bought a few bottles and thanked him for his time. We would be meeting up with his wife Diane tomorrow for a full day.

We had a few hours so we took off for lunch to Café Madeline just a short walk from Alex’s place. Great place for lunch if a bit pricey for us. The wines are stored on the walls so that you just have to pick them yourselves. The restaurant charges you for the wine and a 6 euro corkage fee. We sat down with a 2009 Beaujolais that went well with a small salad and a great but tiny Beouf Bourgogne. After that, we made our way to Louis Latour.

Louis Latour’s offices are located in the town but they do not stand out like Napa wineries. This was like any other pretty but old building (except for the small courtyard) with a small sign outside that announced the domaine. We had a guide that took us out to the Corton hills for a tasting at the mansion. I was looking forward to this as I has never seen the Corton Hills. Everyone says you can’t miss the Corton hills when you are driving in Cote D’Or and they were right. It stands out in front of you like a large goaltender in net. We drop up to the house and walked into the vineyards. It was great to see people working the vines and to see the soils.

A quick tour of the facilities was followed by a walk down into the cellars two floors down. We saw bottles as old as 1870 Cortons before we were lead into another very dark room for our tasting. 3 whites and 3 reds. There was an interruption in the tasting but I’ll explain later. All the bottles were just opened as we tasted.

2009 Maison Louis Latour – Montagne 1er Cru La Grand Roche – white flowers on the nose, lemon zest, minerally, banana??, long finish.

2009 Maison Louis Latour Grand ardeche – more density, more oaky perhaps less floral and attractive but decent. Good acidity and medium length.

2009 Maison Louis Latour Meursault Blagny – lessy, tight almost like Sauvignon Blanc nose with zipy acidity but lacking fruit. Good persistence. Perhaps needed some more air

2009 Maison Louis latour Marsanny – Fresh strawberries but a bit herby

2009 Domaine Louis Latour – Beaunes Vignes Fraches – much better in structure and a bit smokey. Berries, strawberries,, good length, very fresh and lovely.

At this point, the entire group hears a high pitched, almost static like yell right behind one of the members of the group. There is no one else on the property and certainly no one else in the caves. A few seconds later, all the lights go out……. We all pull out our cell phones for some illumination and follow our guide out. Out in the light we saw several French military plane flying overhead. It felt like we walked into a battle zone. Our guide walks around to see if she could find the problem with the lights. She is visibly nervous by what happened and what she heard downstairs. She find a way to rest the power and because we had not finished the tasting, we all headed back down into the basement….. ? Seriously….. she’s a trooper. Why did we go back down?

2009 Corton Grand Cru – Now this is much much more like it. This is a good bottle. Very pure, fresh, super smooth, silky, berries, great structure and very night length. We joke around a bit, perhaps the alcohol was giving us a bit of strength…stupidity… who knows. Nice way to finish the tasting and we headed back up to the surface only this time to be greeted by the start of rain. Good timing.

Tomorrow, more Burgundy.