Wine tasting on a Monday night; what could possibly go wrong?
I’ve long been a fan of a Cremant de Bourgogne as an alternative to Champagne, but haven’t really had the opportunity to explore wines under the AOC Macon appellation. Bourgogne has five wine producing regions, but it was the latter that we were to become better acquainted with:
- Chablis and Grand Auxerrois
- Cote de Nuits
- Cote de Beaune
- Cote Chalonnaise
The terroir in this strip of land running alongside the river Saone varies from limestone to clay, and siliceous. This means that each wine has its own characteristics depending on exactly where it’s grown. We were given the daunting challenge (it’s a hard job, but someone has to do it) of tasting 32 wines; 26 white and 6 red. To be honest, I swirled, smelt, and sipped with the best of them, but this was a lot of tasting for me. My overall favourite was wine number 4, a young 2016 wine from Macon-Bussieres made by Jean-Philippe Baptista. This was aromatic with lots of fruity notes, with a stone fruit taste a lovely smooth finish. Having said that, these were all lovely, with the whites especially being perfect summer drinking.
After all this hard work, I was delighted to be asked to join the winemakers dinner where were treated to the talents of up-and-coming star chef Avinsash Shashidhara and the Sherlock Holmes of the wine world, Master Sommelier Xavier Rousset who helped us discover the diversity of styles available in this often overlooked area in Bourgogne. It was rather lovely to be seated with the wine-makers and our bad French and their better English made for a fun evening; if a little at cross purposes at times. This is Sebastien Larcharme, the winemaker of our final red wine of the evening; Macon-La Roche-Vineuse, 2015 Domaine Lacharme & Fils. I’m guessing he’s one of the Fils!
Our first course of salad of cucumber, Datterrini tomatoes and split mung beans (uncooked) came accompanied by 3 more white wines from the region.
I really liked the first, a Macon-Fuisse 2015 from Cave des Grands Crus Blancs.
Our second course was the star of the evening for me. A South Indian fish stew with Langoustine, Scallop, coconut milk, tamarind, coriander and fermented rice cake. It was exquisite but confused some of our French hosts who aren’t as accustomed to spice. I thought that the Macon-Charnay-les-Macon 2015, Cave de Charnay-les-Macon with a touch of sweetness worked particularly well with this oh-so-delicious course with the sweet scallops and langoustine.
Our final course was char-grilled marinated pigeon with beetroot and sorrel. These earthy flavours needed something to complement them, and our 2 red Macons didn’t disappoint. Obviously, my favourite was from the winemaker sitting opposite me!
So, if you were counting, I tasted 32 wines, then had another 8 with dinner. Maybe that explains us all joining in with a Macon song at the end of the evening (I really had no idea what it was all about).
These wines were fabulous and deserve much wider acclaim. Please do take a chance if you see one of these on the shelf of your wine merchant – the wonderfully named Macon-Milly-Lamartine 2016 is available from Laithwaites.
So where does Gatwick feature in all this? It was where I woke up on the train – whoops!