September 2, 2014
Today I arrived at work ready for anything—so I thought… I was still surprised when I learned that I would be heading down to Beaujolais country for the day. Beaujolais is about one hour south of Volnay and consists of a series of hills which make up the “cru” Beaujolais areas. As I suspected, the vines for Beaujolais nouveau (a very light, fruity wine meant to be drunk within months of production) are found on the flat plains in the valley while the more serious, traditional “crus” are all on hillsides. Vines have been planted here since Roman times and while the Cote d’Or produces arguably some of the most remarkable wines in the world, I think Beaujolais has some of the world’s most beautiful hillside vineyards. The ancient, goblet-style, gnarly Gamay vines remind me of old head trained Zinfandel vines back home in California.
The lovely town of Fleurie with its splendid church and charming downtown was our destination. Our trip was in conjunction with a Beaujolais cru project that was started this year. So I’ll have the somewhat unique opportunity to experience a harvest in both Beaujolais and Volnay this fall—very exciting! After a very full day of winery preparation, fork-lift receiving, and checking sugar levels with a refractometer, I was treated to a drive through the picturesque Moulin-a-Vent and St. Amour cru areas on our way home.
After work Monsieur Lafarge took me to a meeting at the Viticulture and Enology school in Beaune where a few hundred wine business folks were gathered to hear lectures on the upcoming harvest: presentations on everything from current grape sample lab numbers for all the various appellations in the Cote d’Or to vineyard pests and diseases, to legal requirements for hiring harvesters. And of course afterwards there was a reception with Cremant de Bourgogne (tasty sparkling wine produced locally). Another interesting day.