Our brief visit to the Côte Chalonnais provided a tantalising glimpse of the wine wonders of the region, rather than the full experience. This was partly because it was January, and partly because it was a Sunday, not a good combination for wine-tasting in France.
We had decided to meet our friends Cristophe and Geraldine a restaurant in Givry, Le Salon de Gregoire. We had an outstanding 1er Cru Givry red at the restaurant, La Grande Berge made by Domaine Mouton, very smooth and light bodied, and good value at € 39 from the restaurant’s wine list.
Unfortunately, because I was driving, I was only to have one or two thimbles-full of the heavenly liquid over lunch, while my son glugged away quite happily.
We had decided on Givry as this is his favourite wine so far, having drunk a particularly good bottle at one of his Oxford dinners. We also drank a bottle on the night before we left England, and it was extremely good.
It was brilliant to see C & G, who drove up from Geneva and whose journey took much longer than ours. This was because I got the geography all wrong; somehow, I had it in mind that Geneva was much further to the north of Burgundy, and that Givry would be a shorter drive for them than going to Mâcon. In fact, it was quite the opposite.
The Côte Chalonnais is named after the town of Chalon, which we have passed several times on the A6 motorway but not actually visited.
Our friends had initially suggested we meet at the village of Mercurey, and so after lunch, we made a quick dash in the back of their car to find somewhere to deguster le vin. This turned out to be a wild goose chase. Everywhere we visited was closed, and even those that were scheduled to be open had signs saying Fermeture Exceptionelle.
We then went through Rully, with similar results. Christophe repeatedly stopped the car outside each imposing chateau while Geraldine went off in pursuit of someone she could persuade to open the cellar. I don’t think I have been in a car that has done so many U-turns in such a short spce of time. But sadly, helas, all to no avail. Even the main Cooperatif at Rully was on a routine Fermeture Exceptionelle.
Although the pursuit of wine was unsuccessful, I feel I have had a glimpse of the joys of the region. Before I left for France, I gave a training presentation that my Nigerian colleague had described as a “mini-skirt” that would get the attention of the prospective client, but would not deliver sufficient content to satisfy their needs. I felt that my Chalonnais experience had been rather similar.
Back in Mâcon, we tried out several supermarket wines from the villages that we had visited but not penetrated. The Mercurey was € 18 and had lovely dense flavours. We also tried a white Rully, which was much better than I expected.