July 5, 2015
The Promised Land
Awoke to a Petit Dejuener with fresh, perfectly ripe apricots and peaches. Of course there was coffee, croissants, and the staple of France – perfect bread. It had been a hot night in our centuries old room built of rock. Once hot the walls act like our pizza oven. Thankfully, it is cooler today than yesterday.
We load up our tiny car and headed towards the village of Rochepot. The town is dominated by a fortress castle that dates back to the 13th Century. The medieval owners are long long but their stone legacy was restored in the last hundred years by the family of a French President Carnot. It was rebuilt stone by stone from its ruined state. It had. Even demolished during the French Revolution and used as a stone quarry for much of the 19th Century. Most of it has been returned to its original glory through the efforts of the Carnot family. Today we visited inside the castle for the first time.
These ancient walls were developed to mark specific vineyard terroir. They are referred to a Clos as in closet. Each acre of ground in the Golden Hills is known for the quality of the grapes grown. They are either Pinot Noir or Chardonney. Nothing else is grown in the region.
The inevitable stairs led to some great vantage points. The “Burgundian” colored tile roofs continue to fascinate. I enjoyed the 200 foot deep well dug through rock as well as the old communal bread oven. The local peasants had to use the oven and pay the lord of the castle to use it. It is no wonder that they destroyed much of the castle during the revolution. French national pride in the late 19th Century led to its restoration in the same manner that Carcasonne was resurrected. We saw amazing pictures of the restoration and enjoyed our visit. We only have photos from the outside but they are sufficient to portray the grandeur of the place.
We drove about 15 miles to our hotel in Beaune. It was delightful that Tom took us to the address. It was even better that the entrance and reception were clearly marked. Despite being early, the receptionists said we could park and unload our baggage. This may not sound like a big deal except when you are in the middle of a medieval city. By the time I parked the car, they said our room was ready. Even more amazing was the feeling of AC for the first time since Switzerland when it was barely needed.
We headed out into the city famous for being ground central to some of the greatest vineyards in the world. UNESCO declared Today! that the hills around here are a World Heritage site. They should have asked me long ago. We had a light lunch of cheese before heading into the Marche aux Vin or Wine Market. The cool basement was perfect for tasting some of the lesser vintages before heading upstairs to locate my birthday present.
After an interrogation by the wine seller, I was deemed worthy to try some of the finer vintages. We discussed price points and a strategy for getting that earthy, mushroomy aroma and taste that I love in a fine Pinot Noir at a price that mere mortals can afford. She readily acknowledged that Oregon Pinots are good but we both agreed that what I was looking for is only found in France. The 2012 Grand Cru from Pommard is very drinkable today but deserves a year of two of aging. The case will arrive in October when the weather is more suitable for wine travel.
I left the market happy and Peggy was relieved that we still some money left for her shopping. We have rested in our cool room and have located the same restaurant that we enjoyed 12 years ago. We’ll head there at a civilized time for dinner.