Burgundy

“the closer the Beaune, the sweeter the meat…..”

A compelling actor expresses beauty and energy underneath the surface that actively reveals itself during the course of the movie. I prefer a full length Penelope Cruz film to watching Pamela Lee Anderson bounce after a camera on a generic beach.

A compelling wine is one that draws you back again and again, revealing its mysteries and complexities over time. Bourgogne (Burgundy) fits this description more deeply for me than any other wine.

Years ago I heard someone say you may have five truly great bottles of wine in your life and they will most likely be Bordeaux but the one that brings you back for a lifetime will be Burgundy.

I vividly remember drinking Le Musigny 1966 (grand cru Burgundy) out of a crystal water glass in the kitchen in Nuits St Georges where I lived in 1975. The wine evolved over the two days it took us to finish it into a short story that read like the aesthetic seduction of a twenty year old. I was tasting the texture of fine silk hidden within the warmth of autumn colors. How do taste and smell reveal the sweetness of a season?

I lived in the kitchen to help out Madame with her over stock of homemade pain au chocolat and did time in the cellar helping out my “French father” deplete our supply of slightly chilled Beaujolais.  It was a time of pure innocence that is now burned into my brain like a big sky sunset.

When I experience a great Burgundy the memory of the 1966 Musigny floods my senses like the sound of the steam whistle that carries Thomas Wolfe back to his youth in “Of Time and the River”. In both cases the past becomes present by the power of our senses.

Thirty years later Melinda and I made a butcher paper etching from the stone wall marking  the parcel of Musigny owned by Comte de Vogue.

“I started out on burgundy but soon hit the premier crus…”

Listen to the tension of drumbeat against the slowly increasing intensity of piano halfway through Dave Brubeck’s “Take Five” and you will understand why I cannot describe the dynamic balance of great Burgundy in terms of fruits or nuts. The music’s subtle and emotional pulsation reflects the heartbeat of Chevillon Premier Crus from the village of Nuits St. Georges. Chevillon is the Domaine where I bought way more wine than I could afford: Seduced by the aroma of sound.

The two sons of Robert Chevillon represent the 5th generation to farm and make wine from the vineyards in the village of Nuits St Georges. They declined my offer to do a short video, pretended to not to understand my Franglais and only smiled as we were leaving. Their father resembled my image of a hermit cellar master fresh up from the catacombs. He was lurking behind us near the cages used for storing unlabeled bottles; his eyes all the time watching his two sons pour us small sips of wine.

Chevillon (14) (3)

While I sometimes act like I get paid by the spoken word the Chevillons gave us the quietude we needed to be teased by the exotic intrigue of their wines. We asked the wine for more; it responded “in due time.”

See one of my cellar notes below:

Chevillon Les Cailles 2011 (eta late summer)

name, les cailles refers to rocks like cailloux as in sang des

7 cases available. All bought by Winebow, NY – ask Herve, the buyer to give up a case
Darker, more mineral, balance of fruit and earth terroir
Saucy like Ginger from Gilligan’s island without make up
Oak integrated, 30 % new, 20 months in barrel
Vineyard has 8% grade – less than 3 acres.
80 year old vines, clay and limestone
approx retail – $90-$100
Currently in stock: Chevillon Les Chaignots 1er cru $95 (2004 or 2008)

chevillon label

“When you ain’t got nothing go see your grammas…”

Damien Gachot flunked out of the Universty of Minnesota and returned to Burgundy where he inherited vineyard parcels from his maternal grandmothers. Melinda and I met him on an earlier visit when he told me how lucky he was to have succeeded in failing.

He took us to a blue collar restaurant on the back roads of the Hautes Cotes de Nuits for a lunch that felt like the French version of Bozeman’s Barmuda  Triangle. The first course was ground up pig’s feet with cabbage, vinegar and chopped up cornichon. After eating other unmentionable animal parts we finished with a freshly baked pomme de terre tarte.  Damien gave a group of men wearing those French blue worker jackets two bottles of wine without labels and asked us not to tell Kermit. I doubt Mr. Lynch is sitting around his digs in Bandol waiting for my next blog.

Damien lives on the wrong side of the tracks in Corgoloin near the southern tip of the Cotes de Nuits next to a marble quarry. Previously, his grandmothers sold their grapes to big negotiante firms who blended the Gachot Monot grapes with wines of lesser quality thereby giving up their expression of terroir.

Damien hit the proverbial jackpot when he joined the two estates, began organic farming practices, limited his vines to extremely low yields and quickly gained a local reputation of being a winemaker to watch.  The son of Robert Chevillon pictured above told Aubert de Villaine, one of the most respected names in the wine trade and director of Domaine Romanee-Conti, to check out the wines from Domaine Gachot Monot. He did, called his friend Kermit Lynch who, after tasting with Damien, immediately bought his entire U.S. production. I have been stocking my 15 case annual allocation ever since.

If you don’t have a friend with a cellar full of Chevillon, bring out some good soft cheese, crusty bread and put on an old Leo Kotke record or the re-master of Exile and Main Street and decant a bottle of Gachot Monot Cotes de Nuits Villages 2010.

Suggested Retail: $32

gachot monot labelburgundy map

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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