September 5, 2014

My stay here in France has been sponsored by a fellowship from the jubilant Confrerie

des Chevaliers du Tastevin, an organization founded in 1934 to promote the wines

and food of Burgundy. One of the ways they accomplish their goals is by holding

sumptuous events at their headquarters: the Chateau du Clos de Vougeot which is

situated in the middle of the grand cru Clos Vougeot vineyard. Today I participated as

a judge in the Autumn Tastevinage: an event where over two hundred wine industry

experts (vignerons, negociants, wine writers, sommeliers, restaurateurs, and in this

case a couple lucky UC Davis students) gather to judge over 400 Burgundy wines.

Wines that are rated highly enough are permitted to include the Tastevine label on their

bottles: a great honor, indeed.

I was surprised when my fellow Tastevin laureate, Laura, and I were introduced to the

entire assembly before the tasting commenced. My table was responsible for judging

fifteen white Burgundies: everything from regional Bourgogne blanc and Aligote, to

St. Romain, Auxey-Duresses, and Meursault village level wine, to some premier crus

from Puligny-Montrachet and Meursault. At first I was a bit daunted by the task as I

was sitting next to the owner of one of the largest negociant houses in Burgundy, and

his family has been making wine here for over 280 years. Nonetheless, after the first

couple wines I settled in and simply went with my palate. My two favorites were a

Bourgogne blanc and a Meursault premier cru.

After the tasting I was taking in the grand ambience of the chateau when I felt a hand

on my shoulder and turned to find my friend from Vosne-Romanee with whom I had

toured vineyards on Monday. And as luck would have it, we were assigned to the

same lunch table. If the wine tasting was exquisite, then the five course luncheon was

truly magnificent. And of course there was no shortage of wine—including an elegant

1999 Volnay premier cru Taille Pieds (a vineyard which I had hiked through during our

Flavescence doree hunt last Friday). And to make it an official Confrerie event, there

was some singing with clapping and hand motions. A most jolly and memorable event.

I returned to work at 4:30 and lifted, prepped and rolled barrels until my second week of

work came to a close at 6:00 p.m.

The Chevaliers du Tastevin collection Dessert Main course What a way to start a luncheon! DSC_0579 DSC_0578 DSC_0575 Burgundy #5 of 15 My table: 15 white Burgundies Grand hall of the Confrerie des Chevaliers du Tastevin Working hard at the Tastevinage Preparing for the Tastevinage DSC_0555 Tastevinage at the Chateau du Clos de Vougeot


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