Hovering over the vines

August 21, 2008
“In the air you’re in perfect harmony with nature,” enthuses Guy Cinquin. “Every flight is an adventure because you never know where you’ll end-up.” When he comes back down to earth in his beloved hot-air balloon, Guy returns to his tidy winery and a couple of hectares of vines at the edge of the village of Mercurey -Le Domaine de l’Europe.  Guy and his wife Chantal have two B&B rooms for balloonists, wine buyers, grape-pickers and, of course, the tourists who come here to explore the pretty Côte Chalonaise countryside.  What makes Domaine de l’Europe special are its superb Mercurey wines and the once-in-a-lifetime chance to see the Burgundian landscape from hundreds of metres above the vines.  For prices and availaility contact Guy or Chantal at Domaine de l’Europe, Mercurey.




Swimming in a 1er cru vineyard

August 21, 2008
Four kilometres from Beaune is the famous wine village of Pommard and the home and winery of Estelle and Thierry Violot-Guillemard – Le Clos de Derrière-Saint-Jean.   Thierry was born here but the house has a very international feel; guests from many countries come to stay at their excellent chambres d’hôtes, Estelle speaks English and German, and their wines are exported as far afield as the USA, New Zealand and Japan.  Guests can bathe in the smart swimming pool right next to the fifty-year-old 1er cru Pommard vines and then relax with a glass of the estate’s wine and gaze at the swallows skimming through the vine rows.  Breakfast here is superb!
Domaine Violot-Guillemard, Pommard.


100% Terroir

August 13, 2008
Tess and Manu Guillot-Broux have developed their winery’s reputation as one of ‘best kept secrets’ of Burgundy wine. Visitors to their pretty two-bedroom gite just across the road from the winery will be charmed by its rustic simplicity. Exposed timbers, pine floors and lime-pointed stone walls give a glimpse of authentic rural living.
Manu learned his wine-craft from his father who had worked in both the Beaujolais region and the Côte de Beaune. This apprenticeship taught him how to get the best from the gamay and chardonnay grapes planted on these hilly slopes. Guillot-Broux wines are truly organic – that’s to say that the vines have been certified as ‘agriculture biologique’ since 1991 (although the vines had already been cultivated organically since the 1950s) and in the winery the addition of sulphur, artificial yeasts and sugar is restricted to an absolute minimum. The secret of Manu’s success he asserts is the ideal geology found here in abundance on the higher slopes. The white wines are impressive: every bit as rich, buttery and toasty as the classic white burgundies of Cote d’Or. The reds too are a real surprise: dark, concentrated and lightly oaked, quite different from the light, fruity wines usually associated with the gamay grape. “Wine is made in the vineyard,” he asserts. “The grape variety is less important than the soil. I’m going to produce a new wine called ‘100% Terroir’ and let people try to guess what’s in it!” he says, almost convincingly.
Domaine Guillot-Broux, Cruzille, Macon.





Time Ripens all Things

August 13, 2008
The bunches of tiny green grapes are beginning to blush in the August sun. In between intervals of sunshine the vine is being drenched by torrents and buffeted by gales. We hope still that there will be some fruit left by harvest time.



The Renaissance of a Grand Burgundian Chateau

August 8, 2008

Chateau Melin, near Auxey-Duresses was owned by the church and was used as a Catholic retreat for the poor children of France’s major cities.  After being abandoned in the 1980s the place stood empty and neglected until 2000 when it was purchased by Hélène and Arnaud Derats.  An energetic couple, they have restored the chateau to its proper state.  The grand house is now the family home; HQ for Arnaud’s wine business; a wine depot; and classy (but great value) bed and breakfast.  Arnaud is a member of the Chevaliers du Tastevin and owns 23 hectares of village, 1er cru and grand cru vines in 15 different communes all along the Côte d’Or.

Bikini Tops not Peasant Smocks at Montrachet

August 8, 2008

Tending the vines at Le Montrachet this summer in designer sunglasses and bikini tops.  Photo 23/6/08