January 22nd is St Vincent’s day and the traditional day for the pruning
of the vineyards to start. Last year I wrote about being a privileged
guest at the private winemakers’ festival of St Vincent.
Not much is known about St Vincent, the patron saint of winegrowers
although there are many legends about him. However he is most likely
their patron saint due to the play on words ‘vin’ wine and ‘cent’, one
hundred, or from a Christians perspective it is the words ‘vin’ win and
‘sang’ blood that make the name of the Saint.
Many of you will be more familiar with the St Vincent Tournante, held on the weekend following the 22
January, in one of the wine growing villages. This year exceptionally,
three towns are hosting the event simultaneously, Dijon, Nuits Saint
Georges and Beaune in honour of the Climats of Burgundy. It is part of the on-going campaign for the inclusion of the Climats of Burgundy on the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites.
It’s probably a great year to visit this year as being held in three
separate places, the visitors will be spread out a bit so it shouldn’t
be as crowded. It will also be more accessible as there are special
trains running between the towns with a special price of 5€ for travel
between them, this will also get you a discount of 3€ on the entry price
of 15€. If you have to come from further afield, the price is 7€ from
all over Burgundy, again entitling you to a 3€ reduction on the entry
The entrance fee provides you with an engraved glass, a glass
carrying pouch to hang around your neck and a bracelet of 7 tokens which
you can exchange at each wine tasting stand. Each town will have
several ‘Pavilions’ representing seven themes and you have the
opportunity to taste each theme, they are:
Chablis and the Yonne, Cote de Beaune, Cote Chalonnaise, le
Maconnais, le Cote de Nuits, Crement de Bourgogne and regional Burgundy
This years St Vincent really is a fantastic opportunity to taste wine
from all the regions of Burgundy in one day, not something that happens
For those who can’t make it to the St Vincent Tournante next weekend, there is also the St Vincent de Beaune, held this weekend in Beaune, where you will be able to taste the wines of Beaune.
how I love this time of year, the evenings are lighter, the days are
getting warmer and this year the sun is shining already. Everyone in
Burgundy is coming out of the winter hibernation and there is a ‘Portes Ouvertes’ or ‘Fete du Village’ practically every weekend.
What a dilemma and what is the difference between them? In general a Portes Ouvertes
is held once a year by local businesses, it is literally, ‘open doors’
when everyone is welcome to have a browse around, with absolutely no
obligation to purchase. Not only do you get to browse but you often are
able to see many parts of the company that are normally closed to the
public, great if you are a bit curious like
me! So when you next see the signs – go ahead and have a look around,
it’s the perfect way to go wine tasting if you feel as if you don’t want
to interrupt. And an extra bonus is that the wine is often being sold
off at a discounted price and believe me, that doesn’t happen very often
A Fête du Village
in Burgundy is similar to a British village fete but a fete with a
difference. The difference is that you generally have to pay to enter
the village – however in return you receive an engraved glass and a
booklet of coupons. You then amble around the village holding out your
glass and a coupon at which ever wine tasting stand takes your fancy. A
slurping size portion of wine will be poured in to it for you to enjoy.
This gives you an excellent opportunity to try out several vignerons in the same village, all at the same time. This means next time you are here, you can go direct to the vigneron
to try out all of his wines, knowing that you are sure to like
something and therefore sure to make a purchase. Which will make you a
welcome guest as the whole purpose of going wine tasting is to actually
buy some wine - isn't it?
For a family eye view of the Fête du Bouzeron et du Persillé de Bourgogne, have a look at this blog. For photos of the Portes Ouvertes at Chateau de la Velle in Meursault and the early bud burst, take a look here.
Many people dream of wine tasting in Burgundy. Hopefully you are reading this page as you are either planning a holiday in Burgundy or passing through on the way south or to the Alps
for a spot of skiing. Whatever, one of the most usual reasons for visiting Burgundy is the legendary wine. Although the wine is well known, what is not so well known is how to go about tasting this liquid
treasure. Considering there are over 4000 wine producers, where on earth do you
start? and it can be rather a daunting task to knock on a Frenchman's door and ask for a free taste of his wine!
One of the simplest ways of doing it is to go with an established
wine guide, either as part of a small group or booking your own guide.
A private guide will pick you up from your hotel, drive you into the
vineyards, explain the principles of Burgundy wine, then take you
directly to a producer or two, where you will taste a selection of
wines. You will be given a thorough explanation of the region, the
terroir and the classification system used exclusively in Burgundy, a
good guide will also teach you the difference between 'tasting' and just
'swallowing' - as we Brits tend to do! Lunch in a recommended
restaurant will follow, then another tasting in the afternoon before
you are returned to your hotel, hopefully with a few bottles of wine on
board. Best of all, you haven't had to drive so you have been free to
indulge yourself in the tastings.
Prefer to do it yourself? Choose a producer from the list here,
check out their information and if possible make an appointment. If
you are calling on spec, it is better to avoid Sundays, Bank Holidays
and lunchtimes. The reason for this is that the majority of winemakers
in France are family concerns, so the wine tasting will be done by a
member of the family. The times noted above are family times and very
important to French families, it is these little things that make
France so different to the UK and why we love living here so much.
When you have chosen the time and the place, courtesy is very
important. Do not, go in and ask to simply taste wine, or worse, just
say 'dégustation?' It's most important to say 'Bonjour', no matter
what your grasp of the French language, then ask if they speak English
(assuming you don't speak French). Once you have the language
established, explain that you are looking for some local wine, do they
have some to buy and would it be possible to taste it before you buy
it. You will then probably be welcomed with open arms.
Too many foreigners just go in to the cellar, expecting to taste
many wines for free and are then left wondering why they have not
received a warm welcome. Remember, this is the winemaker's livelihood,
if he is not wine tasting with you he would be out in the vineyard
working, in the cuverie checking the wine, bottling his wine or doing
the marketing or the accounts. It is only courteous to buy a bottle or
two when the winemaker has interrupted his work time for you and lets
face it, why on earth would you want to go wine tasting without actually
buying any to enjoy later?
Note: I'll go over how to taste in a later post
What a way to start 2011!
After being invited to participate in the St Vincent celebrations in
the prestigious wine village of St Aubin in the Côte de Beaune, it would
have been discourteous to turn it down. All wine villages in Burgundy
hold their own private St Vincent celebrations, the week before the St VincentTournante
. Tickets to these celebrations are not available to the general
public as it is a traditional occasion similar to the old guild events
in days gone by, however we were honoured by the host of this years St
Vincent, in St Aubin, André Moingeon et Fils, and were absolutely
delighted to accept.
St Vincent is the patron saint of winegrowers and the 22nd of January
is his official day. Tradition has it that if it is a fine day, the
winter is effectively over - or if it is cold, the winter will be a long
cold one. A mass is always held, then a procession through the village,
to transfer the statue of St Vincent from the home of the previous
year's vigneron to the vigneron who has been chosen to hold him for the
following year, thus passing on the blessing of a good year's harvest.
After this wonderful procession, with all the vignerons, the local
dignitaries and their families (many children in traditional Burgundian
dress) everyone is welcomed in the Salle des Fêtes for the speeches.
So far, very traditional but Monsieur le Maire had some special news -
St Aubin has officially applied to host the St Vincent Tournante in
2014, which will bring up to 40,000 visitors to the village for the
weekend. This news was welcomed by all the vignerons as it is a great
opportunity to present their wines to a greater audience without leaving
the region. If Sunday's hospitality and friendliness is anything to go
by, the last weekend in January 2014, is a date to put in your diaries.
It was now time to start the real celebrations, St Aubin Premier Cru,
2009 was served as an aperitif to everyone, along with a warm cakesalé, a mouth watering cross between a loaf and a savoury cake, made
from various ingredients such as leek and peppers, lardons and gruyere
and a melt in your mouth salmon. Small gougères, a local speciality
were also served; these are light, choux pastry balls,
delicately flavoured with gruyere cheese and perfect to accompany wine
In days of old, a pig was slaughtered and the families would sit down
to a hog roast accompanied by the different wines from the wine makers
own vineyards. This year though it had been decided that a more varied
menu would be served.
Quenelle de Crevettes sur son Pancake de Hommard, Réduction de Corail
Roti de Lotte dit <Lardé>, Crémeux de Pois Chiches, Dome de Butternut
Magret d’Oie légerèment Fumé, Cuisson à l’Unilatéral, Jus Réduit, Tube de Légumes Oubliés******
Beignet de Citeaux et Petite Mache à l’Huile de Noisettes Grillées
Sablé Breton et sa Mousse de Lait, Brunoise de Poires au Caramel de Beurre Salé
‘Le tout arrosé des meilleurs crus de nos caves'
As the waiters started serving the meal, bottles of wine appeared
from everywhere and I mean everywhere, everyone was so keen for their
wine to be opened first! Everyone, insisted that 'you just try a drop',
great hilarity ensued when the first wine was - UNSCREWED! As part of
the host family, Nadine opened the first bottle - a Chenin Blanc from
South Africa - everyone tried a little and commented nicely, then Nadine
revealed she had bought it from Lidl, for the princely sum of 1.99€.
The atmosphere was set for the afternoon, everyone started opening their
best bottles and it was hard to keep track of them all, 17 white wines
and 14 red wines, not forgetting the Crémant de Bourgogne at the end (for those who are interested, I have listed the wines at the bottom of the page).
The menu was delicious, the wines elegant and the conviviality was
exceptional. It was a privilege and an honour to be allowed to share in
a moment when deep seated Burgundian hospitality, was shown at it’s
best. It was an afternoon to relish and feel the passion that these
illustrious winemakers and their families have for their wines. The
overall feeling being that although it may be a business, above all they
are foremost vignerons, a ‘metier’, a profession that has been handed
down from generation to generation. To understand the Burgundian way of
life is not easy but this was an impressive welcome that is not often
extended to incomers of any nationality, not even the French.
I would like to extend my heartfelt thanks to M. et Mme Michel
Moingeon and the winemakers of St Aubin and wish the village, all the
best for the StVincent Tournante in 2014, which will be a great
The wines tasted included:-
Chenin Blanc Amarosa 2009 - Oliphants River, South Africa
St Aubin 1er Cru Chatenaire 2009 - J Lamonthe
St Aubin 2006 - Domaine Larue
St Aubin 1er Cru Les Friandes 2000 - Domaine Moingeon
St Aubin 1er Cru Chatenaire 2005 - Henri Prudhon
St Abuin sous Roches 2008 - 2008 - Gerard Thomas
St Aubin 1er Cru Merger de Dents du Chien 2005 - Gerard Thomas
Puligny Montrachet 1999 - Andre Moingeon
St Romain 2009 - Gerard Thomas
Meursault 1er Cru Clos des Porusots 1996 -
Chassagne Montrachet 1er Cru Le Vide Bourse 2007 - M Colin
Meursault Blagny Les Ravelles 2008 - Michel Lamanthe
St Véran 2008 - Perrand Earl
St Aubin 1er Cru En Montceau 2006 - M Colin
Puligny Montrachet 1er Cru La Garenne 2003 - M Colin
St Aubin 1er Cru Mergers du Dents du Chien 2005 - Domaine Larue
Bergerac 2001 - Chateua Peroudin
St Aubin 1er Cru En Créot 2003 - Moingeon
St Aubin 2000
St Aubin 1er Cru Les Frionnes 1999 - Henri Prudhon
St Aubin 1er Cru 2007 - Lamanthe
St Aubin 1er Cru Derrièrre Chez Edouard 2005 - Hubert Lamy
St Joseph 2008
Gevrey Chambertin 2007 - Guillon
Chambolle Musigny 2004 - Thiery Mortet
Chassagne Montrachet La Budriotte 2005 - Jean Claude Bachelet
Volnay 1er Cru Les Santenots 2002 - Domaine Roux
Chassagne Montrachet La Boudriotte - Domaine Laroux
Pommerol - Château de Bel Air 2001