Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Notes on the Grands Jours

Bethany and I knew our bags were pretty heavy with seven bottles of Burgundy and a cremant and a vin de paille from Jura, so we were going to switch the load between our bags to even it out. But the one I thought was heavier was already gone when our clerk told us that the second was too heavy. Bethany heroically suggested pulling out the books we’d saved from the Grands Jours de Bourgogne week of tastings, around 20 of them, and our bag was all right to go.
During our trip, including a few dinners and an extra tasting at the Hospice de Nuits, we tasted more than 1000 wines each. It gave me a lot of fodder for blog entries. We started the Grands Jours tastings in Chablis, then tasted the main areas of Burgundy over the next four days from Marsannay down to Pouilly, and I think there’s even another little town south of there, but I don’t have the book. Before that, we were farther north, in Paris, and we had a wonderful night at the restaurant of wine guru Tim Johnston of Juvenile’s wine bar.

Tim came to our table after we’d had a bottle of South African riesling and started chatting. He poured us some Beaujolais and we drank a bit of his birthday-barrel single malt. He found out we were going to Burgundy. After seeing the disgust on his face, I noted that he had no Burgundies among his glass pours. He said something like, “I only have good wine.”
There’s no good wine in Burgundy? Nope. And little good in Bordeaux, either. So if you want to follow the example of a successful restaurateur in your own cellar, you would only purchase Rhône, Bandol, Loire, east-of-France (Germany, Austria) and new world stuff. Now, he did say that he probably wouldn’t like the bottle of Illahe we gave him, either, but I’m blaming it more on the fact that our bottle was made from Burgundy’s king of grapes than it was grown and made in Oregon.
It was a great night. It’s always fun to hear different opinions. (Oh, he also mentioned that he kicked the director of the movie Mondovino out of his bar!) In the following week I tasted some spectacular wines from all over Burgundy. Whether they are priced fairly is another subject altogether.

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