Homemade lavender apricot jam with a fresh bakery waxed stamp baguette and a petite cafe. This has been breakfast for the last week – a week! I’ve been in this beautiful place for a week. 13 more to go.
Lauren has been kind enough to grant me some down time as I settle into my first week. As we wait for the vineyards to ripen, there is not much to do but to explore (and practice my french) and catch up on lost hours of sleep from traveling. I spent the next few days running in the mornings with Inox to explore the local villages, each day going a little further. Lauren told me about the chapelle (chapel) on the hilltop of Cote de Brouilly (the next Cru over). From the Estate, we can see it glistening among the stars on the mountain at night. Within the winegrowing regions, the highest mountain peak within the village holds a chapelle, built as a guardian over the grapes during the growing season. The next morning Inox and I set off for the chapelle. We weaved down the roads through the vineyards, into the village of Saint Lager and up towards the top. 7 miles later, we arrived back at the Estate, feeling quite thirsty and quite exhausted from our ambitious journey.
Now, for the real reason I am here, the wine – du vin. Beaujolais is a wine region in the southern most valley of Burgundy that grows purely Gamay, a red grape varietal that is a cross between Pinot Noir and Gouais Blanc. Stylistically, the region is known for its Beaujolais Nouveau that gained a lot of popularity for its light, fruity style, made in the absence of oak and without aging. Beaujolais has 10 different distinguished Crus, which are regulated and distinguished wine growing areas within the region. The Crus themselves are not allowed to make this Nouveau style and make bigger wines with more complexity (more aging before bottling and neutral French oak influence), with the ability to age in bottle after. Domaine de Briante is located in the Beaujolais Cru of Brouilly, the biggest and most southern Cru of Beaujolais. The soil varies from pink granite to calcarious clay and produces classic Gamay with fruity, floral aromas. Domaine de Briante owns 8 hectares of Gamay within Brouilly (pronounced Brou-ee). Briante also owns 2 other vineyard sites situated in two other Crus; 2 hectares in Cote de Brouilly and 2 hectares in Moulin-A-Vent. Cote de Brouilly is home to the chapelle and is a smaller Cru situated within the Cru of Brouilly. Cote de Brouilly is known for its ‘blue rock’ – granite soil. The tougher soil gives the Gamay a complexity that can age longer in bottle. Traveling to the north, we have the Cru of Moulin-A-Vent, which is a little higher in elevation with a sandier soil and produces more of a robust, tannic and intense style that produces a wine that can be aged up to 10 years.
& for the wine I have consumed… ahh, here is just a handful.
Lauren’s husband, Roman, is from the wine region of Alsace, which is in north-eastern France, close to the border of Germany. There are beautiful Rieslings and Muscats, among other varietals that come from this region. Lauren and her family are all from Beaune, another great city just an hour north in Burgundy, home to Pinot Noir, and Chardonnay in the south.
The weather has been much like California, sunny and warm – so naturally I have been cooling off at the pool and reading in the shade.
But then something happened. Something so rare to find within California, some would say a miracle. It rained. So we harvested the small plums (quetsche) from the orchard to made a rainy day tarte.
More to come soon, a bientot…