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The Long and Winding Pinot Road, Part IX

American Pinot Noir was proving its worth and my passion for it had been vindicated. But it was time to visit the cradle of Pinot Noir, the slopes of the Cote d’Or. Master Sommelier, Rene Chazottes, led a small group of wine enthusiasts on a wine and gastronomique tour of France in June of 2000. Our group’s battle cry was “Mon verre est vide!” (my glass is empty). 1 Bus, 2 drivers, 4 hotels, 18 wineries, 22 cities, 24 meals, 185 wines, 370 bottles of wine from Champagne to Burgundy to the Loire Valley and finally Bordeaux. For me the highlight of the trip was the heartwarming sight of the almost unbroken vista of vines carpeting the slope of the Cote d’Or on a glorious sunny day. As we drove leisurely along RN 74, the most evocative signs to villages appeared, the names of which sounded like a roll call of the most voluptuous red wines in the world: Chambolle-Musigny, Vougeot, Vosne-Romanee, and Nuits St. George.

At Louis Latour in Aloxe-Corton I drooled over the library of Burgundies dating to the 1800s. Bottles with no labels and covered in mold. The winemaker’s thief was put into action and I tasted some terrific 1999 vintage wines including Corton Charlemagne and Chambertain. Needless to say, I did not spit these wines out. Later that day, we continued south along the Cote de Beaune to the lovely, old, and very rich town of Beaune. Perilously narrow streets, medieval houses, grandiose mansions and a Romanesque church. We settled in at the Renaissance mansion hotel, La Cep, close to the action in central Beaune. It was then off to Vougeot for a tasting and dinner at Domaine Bertagna. With only 200 inhabitants and 67 hectares of vines, Vougeot is the smallest commune in the Cote d’Or. Vougeot’s reputation rests principally on the vines from the walled vineyard known as Clos de Vougeot, the largest clos in the Cote d’Or. A spectacular dinner ensued at Domaine Bertagna. Featured wines included 1995 Domaine Bertagna Corton Charlemagne, 1995 Domaine Bertagna Clos St Denis (Magnum), and 1995 Domaine Bertagna Vougeot Clos de la Perriere, Monopole, 1er Cru. We drank and ate and sang the “Ban de Bourgogne.” I was beginning to feel at home in Burgundy. To be continued… … … … ...

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