1958 Montrachet – Marquis de Laguiche

August 17th, 2009
White Burgundy - 1958 Montrachet

White Burgundy - 1958 Montrachet

Forget the modern rich battonaged white Burgundies with their over sulphited noses and sweet oak overtones. Go to the top, drink the best, drink it old, make use of that oversized hand blown Burgundy glass, and sit down to breath, drink and eat an incredible glass of wine.

An ethereal combination of treakle, honey comb and coffee sings out of the glass. The palate is focused, crunchy minerality, width without being fat, concentrated with a great depth that takes control of your senses, persistant flavours linger in your mouth like a salty dried apricot.

I often find that old white Burgundies grow and open with air over a longer period of time than old red Burgundies. Don’t be afraid to decant old whites and even leave a small glass overnight to discover something different the next day.




Christian Knott

Ploughing with a Horse : Burgundy

May 31st, 2009

It’s all very easy to sit down with a glass of Leflaive, Lafon or Lafarge, and think: Why aren’t all wines this great? How could anyone use herbicides and synthetic chemicals after tasting such graceful purity that these organic domaines deliver?

Cheval PloughingIt was time for me to experience something a little more profound than mowing grass and hoeing out weeds. It isn’t everyday when I have the opportunity to guide a solid 800 Kg’s of muscle from a native Bourgundian Auxonne horse through some of the greatest vineyards in the world. After jumping at the chance to learn the ropes of such a bizarre profession, I set off to the Equestrian School near Autun, some 60km northwest of Beaune. Mid-winter, position on a hill with a fierce wind and icy rain is enough to make anyone rethink a great opportunity, however after spending several days wrapped up in a ski coat, gloves and boots, my time in Autun was up and I was ready for the Côte d’Or.

The Côte d’Or has a magical feeling in spring as the slopes light up with bright green young shoots after months of a dormant grey colour. The warm weather in May had produced so much growth that the vines towered over you as you walked down the vineyard rows. We headed for Pommard, arriving at a small walled vineyard under the appellation Pommard – Le Village. This small plot of vines had been well kept, without the use of herbicides, mechanically ploughed with the vines in a healthy state.

chevalHands on the plough, reigns through my thumbs, looking up to the great Auxonne in front on me, it was like a dream. Once in the row, the horse didn’t need much guidance, it’s just a matter of putting your weight on one side of the plough to avoid getting too close to the vines. The plough was made up of 5 “griffs”, breaking up and aerating the first 5cm of soil. This helps to decrease the soil compaction, increase the activity of aerobic microorganisms and turn over any adventitious plants – creating “green compost”.

Ploughing the soil

Horses are incredibly perceptive animals, underneath all that rippling muscle lies this sensitive aware being that takes in every movement and expression you make. Working with horses is therefore all about being able to communicate without using the reins and without guiding by force. The two way relationship is brought about by directive movements and verbal communication. It’s amazing to be able to guide a horse simply by talking and walking alongside it.

So continue on with your glasses of Burgundian pleasure, and when you’re next in a vineyard – whether it be Burgundy or Barossa have a good stamp and kick at the soil and decide if it’s hoofs, tractor wheels or chemical herbicides that have put the vineyard’s soil into it’s current state.

Christian Knott

Rock Climbing : Chambolle-Musigny

May 25th, 2009

If you’ve been tasting at Roumier, Mugnier, Comte de Vougue or any of the other great producers in Chambolle-Musigny then I’m sure you have stood outside their cellars and noticed the picturesque cliffs behind the village. Perhaps this has added to your sublime impression of the wines you tasted, however next time you are heading for the small village of Chambolle, take the time to walk through the lush valley that lies behind the town, making your way up the hill to the cliff’s so that you are surrounded by nature.

Saturday mornings are always busy in Beaune, the atmosphere at the open air food markets gives that sleepy weekend mood the energy you need to carry loaves of wood fired bread, cheese, Bresse chicken, saucisson and of course fruit & vegetables back home. Our rendez-vous at Chambolle was set for 10am, so when I returned from the markets I barely had 15 minutes to finish making some fresh hummus, prepare a salad and choose a bottle of wine for the picnic later that day.

Looking back at Chambolle-Musigny.

Following our drive to the village of Chambolle, we continued along the Rue Basse through the town – heading west for the forest and about 200m on our right after the last house we stopped at a small parking area. From here a 15 minute uphill trail led us to the magnificent cliffs in the Ambin Valley. Surrounded by trees, white limestone cliffs and a peeking view of Chambolle-Musigny in the distance – it is paradise.

After climbing to the top of the white cliffs, using a harness linked through metal hooks drilled into the cliff faces, you are able to see further along the Côte d’Or, with the Chateau of Clos Vougeot in the far distance. The hiking boots I had worn seemed rather heavy on my first climb – as they are actually more suited to vineyard and winery work than rock climbing. I threw away the modern comfort of shoes and gave the old “pièds nus” (bare feet) a go. After such a long cold winter wearing slippers inside and warm boots outside, the soles of my feet were rather tender, though the excitement numbed any pain that could have otherwise been felt. The experience of climbing barefoot was great, there was much more strain on my arms as I lifted myself to the next step with my feet sliding across the limestone face – trying to grasp at any small crevices with my toes.

"Pieds Nus"Barefoot ClimbingDecending the Climb

Energetic is a great way to describe the sport of outdoor rock climbing. It doesn’t compare to a sports centre whereby you turn up, jump in a harness and climb a wall with colour coded hand grips regularly positioned for your ease of use. In nature, it’s a good uphill hike – carrying all your equipment before anyone thinks about putting on a harness and climbing the cliff face to hook on a safety cord. After three different cliff faces were climbed, it was time to sit back in the shade and enjoy the fresh picnic and bottle of wine that we deserved.

At a closer look, this lush valley is actually quite rough terrain. The hard Comblanchien limestone that streches from Dijon to Prémeaux, giving us these beautiful cliffs isn’t anything like the soft white chalk that make up the cliffs of Dover in England. The jaggered rocks and steep incline were certainly the reasons why we still have an uninhabited valley, full of trees, wild flowers and butterflies. So next time you sit down at the table with a bottle of Bourgogne – whether it be an Aligoté or Les Amoureuses, imagine the landscape a little bit beyond your Burgundy maps, to the peaceful calm valleys that remain untouched.

Christian - base cliffCristina - Base CliffThe Rock Climbers

Christian Knott

Hello world!

May 1st, 2009

Welcome to the Taste burgundy blog. This is the first of hopefully many blog posts.
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