Wine travels in France: 2012 staff trip (1)
After two 1/2 weeks of intensive travel and tasting in France, with just over a week to go, I finally have a moment in the quiet Burgundian hamlet of Moux, near the border of Cotes de Nuits and Beaune, to catch up and share some of what we’ve been up to this year for our annual staff wine tour…
Today (2 June) the second group of our Telegraph/Webster team (servers, bartenders, + myself) completed our bicycle trip through the Côte de Nuits (which included visits in Vosne-Romanée, Nuits-St.-Georges, Chambolle-Musigny, and Gevrey-Chambertin) with a picnic, on a beautiful day, in the Chambertin Clos de Beze Grand Cru, with a bottle of Harmand-Geoffroy’s 2009 Bourgogne Rouge, and market-fresh cured meats, cheeses, and strawberries, before heading south to the Côte de Beaune…
… but to back up and start near the beginning:
I arrived in Paris on May 15 and met up with our chef John Anderes and owner Tom MacDonald; together, we headed south to Avignon and St-Remy-de-Provence for 4 days of summer Telegraph menu food & wine R&D. Upon arrival, our first wine appointment was at Domaine Hauvette, one of the southern natural wine estates I’ve learned to prize over the years.
She tasted us through a host of rosés, whites and reds from several vintages, culminating with the extraordinary 2008 ‘Amethyste’ red, of 60% cinsault.
Like so many of the finest producers we would be visiting in the weeks to come, Dominique Hauvette was a complete autodidact in the world of wine. In the 1970′s, she was living in the Alps, where her parents owned a hotel, and worked as a ski instructor; 1980, she traveled to Provence for what was supposed to be a brief vacation, and, falling in love with the region, never left – living, as she puts it, “off whatever little job came my way”. In the late 1980′s, her father moved out to Provence as well, and bought a house with 2.5 hectares of vines – when offered the chance to work them, she agreed. From 1988 to 1994, she worked alone with winemaking books – “organic from day one” – with Noel Michelin and Trevaillon as neighbors, teaching herself what to taste for and learning the rhythm of the vines, before enrolling in oenology school in Montpellier and achieving her degree in 1998.
Today, her wines ferment with all indigenous yeasts and her sulfur use is VERY minimal (none at all on the vines, or during vinification); she deeply values purity, and therefore seeks for neutrality in her wines’ elaboration; she utilizes mostly older oak, and over the years, she’s been moving more and more toward cement egg fermentations; expect to find Dominique’s egg-fermented rosé by the glass at Telegraph this summer!
After checking into our lovely farmhouse gite (Mas Cornud), and following a night out in St.-Remy with a dinner at Cafe Lezard, we drove the next morning to the village of Eygalieres (in the Alpilles), and shopped at their Friday morning market for fresh fish, vegetables, meats and cheeses to prepare the following night with our hosts and a prominent local blogger.
The following day was one of my favorites of the trip thus far; in the morning, we visited with Etienne Portalis and his father Cyril at Chateau Pradeaux in Bandol (St-Cyr-sur-Mer)…
… and then had a terrific lunch and tasting with Claude and Brigitte Deforges at Clos Cibonne, just southeast of Toulon…
… yet that’s the start of a whole other entry… (to be posted soon!)
- Jeremy Quinn