During my recent trip to France, I had the following:
- 3-4 days free between two different trips/events
- My lovely wife with me
We had free time and were in France. What to do?
Mrs. Robot loves white wine from Burgundy + the Burgundy region is very close to Champagne (where we already were) = Let’s Go Burgundy. I’m in the wine business and shamefully had never been to Burgundy and needed to right that wrong.
We rented a little car in the (equally little) town of Epernay. That in itself was hilarious. The fancy Hertz GoldClub people assured me that, “oh, of course, all of our agents worldwide speak english” (I imagine they hit mute on their phones and then snarkily said to their colleagues, “except for the Hertz office this guy is going to”). We got our car after a short delay where the fun Hertz person had to un-park it as it was paralleled parked with centimeters of space on either end. I should have filmed that bit.
Then we’re off. I was a bit anxious about this whole car thing as we would be driving in a foreign country with signs that I might not understand and in a straight-drive car as well; not my strong point. What a stupid boy I am. I’ve driven in England on the wrong side of the street after having a total of 30 minutes of sleep on a plane. France was easy.
After leaving the town of Epernay at almost 5pm, we were a tad late getting to the inn where we were staying in Burgundy. We arrived in the little (424 people according to the internet) village of Puligny - which makes up the commune of Puligny-Montrachet - a bit late and the owner of our little inn came running out and introduced himself, quickly showed us our room, and then kindly scooted us off to the closest restaurant that was still open.
That night, for the first time in my life, we enjoyed a bottle of white wine from a village in Burgundy while sitting in that village in Burgundy.
In hindsight, I wish I had scheduled less things to do on this leg of the trip. There was not a lot of time to drive around or bike around and just enjoy the sights. For some dumb wine-guy reason, I booked a number of reservations to wineries and they all happened to be in other villages. A fellow wine-pal set me up with two visits in the village/commune of Fuissé which is part of the well-known Pouilly-Fuissé appellation for wine. This is an adorable and sleepy little town (332 people living there) that also makes some killer chardonnay-based wines. We visited two wineries that morning and good-golly they were some nice folks.
After our first visit (Domaine Ferret) we asked them for a lunch recommendation and they called and reserved us a table at one of the two restaurants in town. L'O des Vignes was just incredible. There’s a story about the chef and his background and where he came from - I’ve forgotten all that. The food was just spectacular - so much so that I forgot to take dumb-guy photos of anything. I kept saying how awesome it was to find such a high caliber of restaurant in such a small little town.
After a day of wine tasting (I spit) we headed back to the B&B for dinner. The owners have a dinner every Friday night for the guests. They are a super charming couple from England and the wife is a very talented chef (while the husband is skilled in the wine cellar). It was a great meal and we dined with two other couples who were staying there also from the US.
Jura! "Two hours from the Swiss border, the town is a treasure-trove for wine- and food-loving tourists."
Holy shit we went to Jura. When I was planning this trip, I received two emails on the same day from two different people (Mrs. Robot and a gentlemen who is a Master of Wine) who both said, “You realize that you are near Jura? Why don’t you go there?”
For those of you who don’t obsess over wine regions in France, this is the region where one of my favorite wines come from - the red wines made with their local Poulsard grapes. The wines (often) are light in color and tannins and I find them fabulously quirky and friendly. From our B&B in Puligny, it was 1.5 hours to the town of Arbois - a cute little picturesque and hilly town. I mention ‘hilly’ because I was driving a straight drive car.
First things first, we needed lunch and we found a friendly little restaurant and were able to sit outside (because the weather was gorgeous for these few days). Mrs. Robot had a delicious guinea hen dish and I had the coq au vin where the ‘vin’ bit was the local ‘vin juane’ (“yellow wine”) which is their somewhat famous wine that is made in a process much like sherry. I should have gotten the hen, but once again we were drinking wines made in the area and had a lovely glass of poulsard with lunch. The waitstaff was great and our waitress recommended some sites to see while in town including the local chocolatier (cue Mrs. Robot’s excitement).
After lunch, we popped in the tasting room of Domaine de la Tournelle and ended up tasting through their wines with the winemaker. Soon, his friends all came by and it became all quite social. It was a great time and wines were bought. He makes these fabulously natural and unfiltered wines. His poulsard wine is slightly cloudy and is this beautiful glowing strawberry red color. Delicious.
Ten Wines for Dinner
Back in Puligny, we had a dinner reservation at Olivier Laflaive’s restaurant. He’s a somewhat well known producer in the area and has a hotel and restaurant where they host dinners with wine tastings. For whatever reason, I opted for the 10-wine pairing for our dinner. The sommelier would come by with each flight and it was interesting to taste all the wines back to back. There were only two reds; after a few days of only white wines I was craving red.
(each dinner we had was in the village - which allowed us to enjoy wine and then walk back to the B&B - that was my strategy)
Off to Orly
After all of this we had to depart the next day (which of course was even prettier than the previous days). Harvest was starting as we drove through the villages. Mrs. Robot had a 5pm flight out of Orly so we drove up there (en route eating the best meal of the trip - more about that later) and I dropped her off, returned our little car, hopped in a cab and then onto a train back to the city of Reims in Champagne where I would be for a bit longer….
The Other Posts
Did you see all the other posts from my last trip to France?
Read them here! On the interwebs!