I could tell you about the bounty of stunning reds and whites from the Cote de Nuits and Cote de Beaune but I feel that Jancis Robinson would do a far better job. Equally, I could tell you about the stunning Maconnais that I found at a fraction of the cost of Meursaults and Montrachets of this world. Instead, let me tell you about the appellation of St-Hiliare just a stones throw from well known Mercurey. What?? You haven't heard of it?? Well maybe that's because it isn't an appelation ... yet.
Whilst traveling through Burgundy, I had the opportunity to stay with Luc and Pascale Cadel at Domaine de la Tour, St-Hiliare. By day, Luc is a top Oenologist with Louis Jadot but he also finds the time to tend to his own vineyard at his property. Currently 1 hectare of vines are planted but there is space (and fantastic terrior) for a lot more so expect this operation to expand. Luc wants to put St-Hiliare on the Bourgogne map and has aspirations of leading the charge to create a St-Hiliare AOC. But I'm getting ahead of myself ... let's stick to the present year.
As a super curious wine adventurer it was amazing to be able to spend the weekend with such passionate and knowledgeable people. The Domaine de la Tour story is a fantastic one, they have been growing grapes there for only a few years and have not yet released the first vintage. The 2014 is still nicely maturing in oak barrels but I can tell you that when it's released in 2017 it's going to be exceptional. A well balanced wine with tons of character from quality fruit and oak ageing. Mouth watering acidity and good fruit concentration tells me it's going to be a wine to enjoy over the years, though I doubt I would have the patience; it truly is delicious. The snag of course is that there only going to be a few thousand bottles which will mainly be sold locally. Good news for VINtwined diners though - I have started the charm campaign early so I hope I will be able to secure a few cases when I launch the Burgundy event next year.
However, this exclusive access came at a price. I spent a Sunday morning toiling away, pruning the vineyard ready for the harvest. I am far more used to having a laptop at my fingers than a pair of shears in my hand and so unsurprisingly I came away with a few blisters as well as fond memories.
But If I'm honest, it was one of the best mornings of my trip. The work was interspersed with top tips from Luc has he explained the importance of ... well just about anything to do with vine management. And of course, he kept reiterating that 80% of quality of the wine comes from the field, "if you start with good grapes it's easy to make exceptional wine". This is a philosophy that I encountered again and again as I traveled through France, and the chateaux and Domaines that truly lived by it without exception produced top notch wines.