Chablis 4:39 a.m
I awakened from a deep slumber after a busy, fun, exhausting day.
Our first stop yesterday morning was Champagne Baron Fuente where we met Export Director Eric. He and marketing maven Julie drove us to an important Chardonnay vineyard in the region of Ile de France. Champagne’s closest vineyard to Paris.
Baron Fuente’s facilities themselves are located in the region of Marne because of their commitment to Champagne’s unsung hero of a grape called Pinot Meunier (sometimes known just as Meunier).
Where many Champagne firms focus on the other two grapes of Champagne (Chardonnay & Pinot Noir) Baron Fuente are dedicated to the sometimes maligned Pinot Meunier.
Prior to WW2 growers in Marne supplied Meunier for the big name houses in Reims & Epernay for use in their blends. The trip used to take two days by horse drawn carts and by the time the grapes arrived to be crushed they were not Nearly at their best. This was the beginning of Meunier’s unfortunate reputation.
Today though Baron Fuente’s modern facilities are located smack dab in the centre of Marne where Meunier grapes are crushed very soon after harvest, sometimes well into the night. This preserves the wonderful fruit & intensity offered by the grape.
We tasted through a range of gorgeous wines including Les Galipettes (the organic treat currently on shelf at Sherbrooke).
The wines display a style that includes everything Baron Fuente is about: Showcasing Pinot Meunier, fresh fruit, little or no additives, colder, longer fermentation in cooler than normal facilities to preserve the freshness of the fruit resulting in a very fine, creamy mousse. The wines spend a minimum of 3 years in bottle and are disgorged and finished with DIAM cork immediately before shipping.
The result is a house style that is fresh, round & approachable in all the ways.
After a perfect light lunch at a lovely old chateau, we said goodbye to Champagne and rolled off to meet up with the good folks at Alain Geoffray here in Chablis.
The long drive took us through winding roads with roller coaster curves until we found Domaines Alain Geoffray. Here, the affable export director Pascal gave us a tour of their tidy, modern facilities and their wine museum with a collection of thousands (!!) of corkscrews and wine making implements from antiquity.
We then tasted through a distinguished line up of their Chablis which we know is always one of the most noble expressions of 100% Chardonnay. Chablis is like Mecca for Chardonnay lovers the world over and I’m anxious to get some of their Premier Crus on the shelves when I get home. These wines are silken mouthfuls of white Jasmine and stone fruit with a saline minerality that causes them to gently take hold of one’s tongue and not let go.
After a generous repast of local charcuterie and cheeses in the cellar with fresh bread, gougeres, radishes, tomatoes and sweet fresh strawberries, we piled once more into the big white van and headed to our (pretty glamorous) digs at Hostellerie des Clos where I more or less collapsed until awakening at nearly 4:00 a.m. to write this.
Day three is rapidly approaching. We will be in the town of Beaune, the very heart of Burgundy for more Chardonnay and some Pinot Noir to boot.