Tag Archives: rosé

Marsannay and One Last Day in Beaune

At breakfast, we chatted with the gîte owners and the French family whose Weimaraner had, depending on whose side you were on, either attacked / or was attacked by the house cat. Apparently, there was no physical damage to the cat, but the emotional trauma was serious. The Weimaraner, who caught the worst of it, was recovering.

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We were headed up to the very northern tip of the Côte d’Or to Marsannay-la-Côte, where we had just one tasting appointment at Domaine Sylvain Pataille. First, we stopped to pick up Danielle Hammon of Le Serbet (Becky Wasserman Selections), the legendary import company who was our connection to most of the wineries we were able to visit. Danielle had been there at each of our tastings in Burgundy except for Bernard Moreau, acting as a liaison and occasional translator, although all of the winemakers spoke excellent English. For me, Danielle was also an excellent role model for how to taste professionally — swishing, savoring, and spitting with gusto, asking intelligent questions, and yet never letting anything go to her head. Also a Bay Area native but living in Beaune for the past three years, we enjoyed her company and her insider perspective on life and wine in Bourgogne.

Sylvain’s brother Laurent met us in the simple underground cave and began drawing off barrel samples of Chardonnay and Pinot from vineyards with names as intriguing as the flavors they produced: La Charme aux Prêtres (The Priest’s Charm), Clos du Roy (The King’s Enclosure), Les Grasses Têtes (The Fat Heads). We also sampled four Bourgogne Aligotés from four separate parcels, fermented and bottled separately, an unusual project that showcased the versatility of this little-known varietal.

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The cave at Sylvain Pataille, featuring barrel art by the winemaker’s little daughter.

Pataille is doing quite a few things that could be considered unusual; for one, he is experimenting with not sulfuring his wines to allow for the most natural expression of terroir possible. He also produces a rosé that is aged in oak barrels for two years, which is very rare for rosé wine. The “Fleur de Pinot” offered the fruit and floral qualities one expects from a rosé, but with beguiling vanilla and spice flavors that would make it excellent to pair with food.

Our next appointment was back in Beaune for lunch at Ma Cuisine with Paul Wasserman of Le Serbet. Ma Cuisine is probably the worst-kept secret in Burgundy; practically every person we spoke to did not just recommend but rather insisted that we go to this restaurant. Visiting Ma Cuisine with Paul made the experience even more fabulous, not only because he himself is fabulous company, but also because he knows the owners, knows the menu by heart, and speaks French as if he’s lived there his whole life (which he basically has).

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A “nerdy” bottle.

We ordered everything.

Foie gras with crispy sea salt; roast chicken with flash-fried white truffle; roast pigeon with plums (it was my first time trying pigeon, and it was incredible — somewhere between quail and duck). Naturally, we needed a bottle of red as well as a white, and with two wine geeks at the table, we ordered two “nerdy” bottles: a 2003 Meursault Les Tessons from Domaine Roulot, and Moreau’s Chassagne La Cardeuse 2011. I didn’t think I really “got” the red in particular until I had it with the food and then…I did.

And then, two hours later, there was dessert. Paul insisted that we go over to the dessert area, where the proprietress introduced us to an array of tartes and cakes that were just crying out, “pick me!” A tart-sweet apricot tarte and an almond-cream-pastry confection were the show-stoppers in an epic meal.

We more or less waddled out into the daylight and wandered around Beaune in a lovely daze. We got some culture at the Hospices de Beaune, which is even more beautiful inside than out:

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Inside the Hospices.

Then we strolled through the shops and took in the local color:

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The sign said Don’t Touch.

But deep down, we both knew we were just biding the time until we could drink again with relatively clear consciences. Honestly, there isn’t that much to do in Beaune besides wine: it’s why everyone is there.

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Drew getting serious about wine, finally.

We found what we were looking for at La Maison du Colombier, a “gastro bar” recommended by Paul Wasserman for its wine list as well as its tapas.

We focused on the wine.

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Bottle #1.

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Bottle #2

Once we drank up an appetite, we went with “simple” dishes: a marinated octopus that melted in your mouth; a Spanish ham as sweet and creamy as marzipan.

Sitting on the terrace on a warm summer evening, as the sun went down, I could have gone home right that moment, and gone home happy.

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Beaune by night.

But there was so much more to come…

And that means more for you, to come (probably) tomorrow!

Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Part Deux

After a day packed with incredible wine tastings, we decided to get some culture at the Pont du Gard. This incredible Roman aqueduct should have been a 25-minute drive from Avignon, but we took the scenic route (aka, were just a little lost).

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The “pont” or bridge is actually a Roman aqueduct.

It is hard to convey the immensity of this structure without actually seeing it in person. Its three levels of perfectly-symmetrical arches reach 160 feet high, and it is part of a 31-mile structure that was used to carry water through the villages of the Roman Empire in what is now the South of France. It is an impressive feat of ingenuity, especially considering it was built without modern technology. Seen up close, it is beautiful and mysterious.

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The pictures really can’t do it justice.

On our meanderings in search of the Pont du Gard, we had passed Tavel, a village that is famous for its rosés, so we decided to have lunch there. The Auberge de Tavel was one of the only places open for a late lunch in the postage-stamp of a village; everything else was shuttered tight against the hot afternoon sun.

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Tavel is a tiny, picture-perfect Provençal village.

The Auberge de Tavel did not disappoint. The dishes were all exquisite, and just kept coming, starting with an amuse-bouche of crème de courgette with chèvre whipped cream:

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Yes, chèvre whipped cream.

Our main courses of guinea fowl stuffed with olives and a crispy duck breast were followed by a pre-dessert of crème brulée presented in a perfect eggshell:

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The pre-dessert-dessert.

Having dessert and wine at lunch means you must also have coffee. And with the coffee came yet more mini-desserts, tiny jellies and chocolates:

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Things were starting to get a little extreme.

Sitting on the sunny patio surrounded by flowers and trees blowing in a gentle breeze, savoring a local rosé, it was a truly perfect meal.

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Vineyards in Tavel.

After lunch, we decided we needed to walk it off with a stroll through the vineyards. Some of the best rosés in the world come from Tavel, including the incredible Domaine de la Mordorée, which is apt to convert even the staunchest anti-rosé wine drinkers. We love it and wait eagerly for it to become available in the U.S. every year.

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We had to at least visit Mordorée, even if we didn’t go in.

Since Drew had already tasted this year’s release, we decided to try something different. We stopped into a tasting room and sampled three wildly different Tavel rosés, from light and airy to rich and robust. Tavel is known for producing rosé wines that are meant to be paired with food and that can even be aged like other French wines, although in our experience they rarely (never) make it to the “cellar” (our closet) simply because they are just too good to resist!

Back in Rognonas, we went for a dip in the hotel pool and shared the lovely, lean “mystery bottle” from Julien at Domaine la Barroche. As the sun started to go down, we were still stuffed from lunch, so we went to watch the Coupe du Monde at our new favorite bar.

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Café de la Bourse, we will be back one day.

After closing out the bar and the one pizza place open in town at 11pm on a Saturday night, we decided we had gotten the most out of Rognonas and were ready to be off to our next adventure in Burgundy!

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Rognonas had a lot to offer for a tiny town.