Bonjour les cyclos! Today was another sunny day. Having two in less than a week is something of a shock to the system, but one I can live with . The waters are slowly receeding, so it seemed like a good idea to go for a ride and enjoy the warm-ish weather.
The chestnut trees on the village square are starting to leaf out, which is a good thing as the trees need for water while they are growing will help dry out the ground.
Work has resumed in the vines. In some of the grands crus horses are used to avoid ground compaction. This old gal is waiting her turn to work while her partner is at the other end of the field.
Moving further south, I reach a road block at Vosne Romanée, so I detour into the vines. I stop to take a picture of the most famous of the Burgundy vineyards. One bottle of Romanée Conti can cost multiple thousands of dollars even before the grapes are harvested. Why, you might ask? Well, first off the wine is very good, but you and I will have to take that on faith as its unlikely that I’ll ever get to taste it. Its good because the vineyard is ideally placed to take advantage of soil, water, and sun and because the wine is made with extreme care. In fact, all the Grand Cru vineyards share those characteristics. Walking through the vines at harvest time a few years ago, Sue and I sampled grapes along the way. The grapes in the Grand Cru vineyards were sweeter, riper and juicier than their rivals in lesser parcels of land. The harvest in these few places (less than 1 percent of all the vines in Burgundy) is consistently better than in other vineyards, even those a few meters away. To oenophiles, good years produce good wines everywhere. The Grand Crus produce good wines every year, even the “bad” ones.
Not all Grand Crus are as pricey as Romanée Conti. The price is due to reputation, scarcity, and monopoly. The reputation is partly due to this vineyard being the last in Burgundy to succumb to Phylloxera mites. Until 1942 the vines were all grown from seed and not grafted as they are now. This meant that the plants were very diverse and not cloned like modern vines. Wartime restrictions on labor and sulfur meant that the parasite finally got into the vines and they had to be replanted in 1946. The family that owned the vineyard kept it together despite inheritance laws and the entire plot remains as a single property, albeit with over one hundred owners, all cousins of varying degree. If the plot were ever to be sold, it would fetch billions, making these 5 acres the most expensive farmland in the world.
Riding further, I enter Nuits St. Georges and take the high road to Chaux. The climb is aided by a tail wind and even on the heavy touring bike goes by fairly quickly. From Chaux I ride through fields and vines to Villers la Faye, seen here almost in its entirety.
Entering Villers la Faye, I meet these “old friends”. I see they’ve had a calf since last I was here.
Descending from Villers, I get to Ladoix Serrigny and this old monastery acrodss the road from the castle. The gate is usually closed, so I snap a quick photo to take advantage of the opportunity.
I ride into Beaune and it is just before noon, so I look for lunch. I find it in a bistro by the gare. The menu today is:
Tuna and potato salad followed by calf’s liver persillé and frites. All this plus dessert and two small glasses of wine for 14€. After coffee, I continue my southward progress to Meursault where a friend invites me in for a second coffee and to ask if I help out in his cellar on Friday. I agree to both before resuming my ride. I make a detour to the village of Auxey Duresses to visit my friend Tom, owner of The Hungry Cyclist Lodge, a b-n-b he created in an old mill. Sue made the sign you see here for an opening day gift.
Tom is in the midst of spring cleaning before opening, and the cellar doors are open. We chat for a bit about business and his upcoming marriage to the lovely Aude, scheduled for late July.
Leaving the old mill I ride through more vine to Chagny, where I get the 4:30 train back to Gevrey. All in all, a great day out.