My most recent visit to Burgundy and Alsace was a true celebration of food and wine. A lot of food and wine enjoyed with incredible people. I landed at Charles de Gualle on a hot and humid Thursday morning. Paris is so frenetic and it is evident as soon as one walks through customs onto the main level. It is crowded, loud, and rushed. The country was calling. We set out on the road heading southwest toward Bordeaux, and then veered toward Lyon. Finally, the busy Paris traffic cleared and we were sailing toward Burgundy.
We arrived at Maison Olivier Leflaive in Puligny and were warmly greeted by the Leflaive family. Olivier and Patrick have larger than life personalities and are always so welcoming. This would be home for the next few days. I always recommend this place to friends and clients traveling to Burgundy. Puligny is a quiet town away from the tourism of Beaune, yet close enough to be a great base for experiencing the famous Cote d'Or. It is wonderful to wake up here greeted by birds chirping and cooing, and to set out for a walk, run or bike ride through some of the most famous vineyards in the world. Montrachet is just a few minute walk from town, on the Route des Grands Cru heading toward Chassage-Montrachet and St. Aubin. At 8 or 9AM, you might be the only one on the trail and it is a magical feeling.
Three Stars and Blind Tasting at Lameloise
After settling in, we kicked off our trip in style at Restaurant Lameloise, one of only 27 three-star restaurants in France. It did not disappoint (does it ever?). This beautiful maison in Chagny near Beaune was family-run for three generations until Jacques Lameloise turned over the kitchen to Eric Pras. Despite the transition, it remains one of France's most consistent restaurants. It earned its first Michelin star in 1926 and has held at least one star uninterrupted since 1952. The 16 bedrooms here are a nice option for those who have trouble moving after the "four plate" (I counted no fewer than nine) menu degustation. We also toured the newly renovated kitchen, which is impressive and impossibly clean.
Dinner began in the small, quiet lounge tucked behind the reception area. There is a formal elegance here, quite separate from the rustic charm of the other dining areas. We began with a magnum of Bollinger Special Cuvee and the beautifully plated hors d'oeuvre mingled nicely with the fine mousse of the Champagne.
We arranged for the Sommelier to pair a different bottle with each course and pour the selections blind. We had a blast trying to determine each wine, repeating the process of swirling, smelling and tasting until we each arrived at a final proclamation. Each time we were wrong, but we had some close calls. We started with 2012 Pierre-Yves Colin-Morey Saint-Aubin 1er Cru en Remilly, a rich, chiseled white that has so much tension. Classic PYCM. Our host had fun revealing each wine and did his best to select bottles that were interesting, well-made and well-suited to the dish, but that also had some characteristic that was a bit atypical for the region. For instance, a wine I determined to be from the Charmes-Chambertin Grand Cru turned out to be 2010 Domaine Sylvain Pataille Marsannay Cuvee l'Ancestrale. Marsannay! As one of my dining companions said, at least I was in the right Cote. My most misguided guess of the evening came when tasting 2012 Meursault les Grand Charrons from Domaine Tessier. I initially thought that it was Bordeaux blanc, sensing some Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc aromas, and ultimately settled on 2005 Puligny-Montrachet. To me, this wine tasted so much more evolved than 2012. Blind tasting can sometimes be humbling.
The meal was sublime. We began with Asperges Vertes & Blanches followed by Turbot Sauvage. The dish called "Gambero Rosso" was done in the spirit of Beef Bourguignon, with shrimp flambeed with Marc de Bourgogne. The food was refined and the presentation was elegant. Veau 'Eleve Sous la Mere' was juicy and delicious and the perfect lead-in to cheese and dessert.
This would no doubt be the first of many, many cheese courses throughout the week. I selected Epoisses, Delic de Pommard and Comte, a conservative choice considering how may offerings were on the cart. For dessert, a stunningly presented "Le Cirton" was followed by Mignardises and Chocolats.
It was a great beginning to a busy week of tasting and meetings. Next up...a visit to the Beaujolais and Pouilly-Fuisse.