A story of wine & wanderlust: The Ultimate Solo Burgundy Guide – chapter 4
I left the hotel the next morning intending to go into Beaune. But a sign pointing in the other direction said “Pommard 0.9 km”. It was early and I decided that a ten-minute walk to a famous wine village was a better option. Little did I know what was in store for me there…
Gerry’s tips… from personal experience – Beaune
A mysterious stranger & une verre du vin
After a little while, I found a walled vineyard and recognised the name ‘Clos de Epenots’. Around the corner was the impressive Château de Pommard. I entered the front gate and strolled up the gravel drive. Detouring to the right, I found the 17th Century winery.
A door slammed behind me and I turned to find someone hurrying across the large cobbled courtyard. He caught sight of me and stopped in his tracks. “Bonjour Monsieur” he said. “Bonjour” I replied.
“Avez vous une dégustation?” He looked at his watch and responded, this time in English. “It is only 9:15am, which is rather early to be drinking wine, is it not?” I shrugged and explained, “I have only been in France for a few days and I am still on Australian time.” He looked me in the eye and replied, “You are not in France you are in Burgundy. Come this way.”
Burgundy: a private wine-tasting tour
He charged a small fee and took me on a tour of the cellars. He asked me if I had ever tasted Château Pommard and I told him I had and that I’d enjoyed it very much. He smiled. “We only make one wine here but I will give you something interesting.”
He opened a bottle of 1989 Château de Pommard and poured us each a generous serving of the classic Pinot Noir. Pinot Noir is such a misunderstood variety in Australia and many never have the opportunity to taste a classic French version.
The wine had a perfumed aroma of violets – it tasted of rich sweet dark fruit, but finished with an astringency showing the fine oak tannins.
We discussed the wine and I felt a tremendous buzz. I had this world-famous vineyard all to myself.
Finishing the wine, I prepared to thank him. He raised an eyebrow and said, “Perhaps we should have another?” It wasn’t a hard decision. “Absolument,” I replied.
Pommard: the price of quality in Burgundy
We walked out into the strong early morning sunshine and I was rather bemused. This chap had a lot of the customary Gallic formality and aloofness. However, he had a genuine interest in talking to me. How strange!
We paused in the vineyard and I commented that the vines appeared to be very old. I asked why they were trimmed down to hip height and each only carried a few bunches of grapes. “It takes the grapes of two vines to make one bottle of Château Pommard,” he explained. “This is the price of quality.”
We shook hands and I continued 200 metres into the village of Pommard. How surprising that this world-famous wine was produced in a village with just a few hundred residents! I smiled; the day had got off to the most wonderful start. I only wondered what other adventures awaited me…
Curious to know what happens next or start at the beginning?
‘The Ultimate solo Guide to Burgundy’ with Gerry Robinson
Have you ever attended a private wine tour in France? Which wines were your favourites? We’d love to hear your thoughts and recommendations in the comments box below.