After unloading our precious cargo from Vinoboam and putting our 1.5L Bagnum of Le Grappin Gamay Rosé in the mini bar fridge, we picked up our cycle helmets and went off to the nearby Gite that did bike hire to start our next adventure on the Beaune to Santenay Veloroute.
Having paid our 15 Euros rental for the 2 fairly decent mountain bikes, without even having to leave a deposit, we set off on our expedition.
We only got as far as le boulangerie before the enticing aroma of freshly baked bread wafted out on the pavement triggering pangs of hunger. Realising that it was in fact nearly 2pm we walked inside and picked up a few tasty snacks including a classic Quiche Lorraine and one of these
We sat outside le boulangerie and ate lunch taking in this amazing view across, Meursault Village Square . Travel Factoid: One of the features of many grand buildings in Burgundy are the beautiful glazed tile roofs which are thought to have originated from Central Europe and arrived in Burgundy via the merchants in Flanders.
After lunch we saddled up and headed off out of the village picking up the veloroute just behind the Hotel de Ville. As the road drops away from the village you are afforded some stunning views of the Cote D’Or and its vineyards.
The veloroute has been specifically designated to follow a mixture of minor roads, vineyard tracks and cycleways to take you on a beautiful and relatively quiet route through some of the greatest villages in Burgundian wine. The route is predominantly flat but you can deviate off of it and push yourself with the odd hill climb if you are up for it and want to get some really stunning views.
About a mile out of Meursault we stopped to take in this view.
Gillian spotted a board in the middle of this vineyard announcing that this terroir was none other then Les Genevrieres. One of the top 2 plots for producing Meursault. The Maison Roche Bellene that I had tasted at Vinoboam came from this terroir and I was delighted to have been able to secure a bottle of this fine wine but also walk amongst the vines from where it had come.
One of the great things about being released, albeit temporarily, from the shackles of the day job, is the liberated feeling of being free from being bound to a specific time. As we pedalled at a moderate pace leaving the spire of Meursault church behind us, like an up turned ice cream cone on the horizon we saw a sign off the main route ” Hammeau de Blagny”. This translated as hamlet of Blagny, and location of one of the Premier Cru that I had tasted at Vinoboam earlier in the day. (See below)
It was just too tempting not to divert off the track and investigate this terroir a little further. Changing down to the lowest gear possible, we dug in for the push up to the hamlet. I did feel a little guilty as my bike had the full 21 gears but as Gillian had opted for a “girls” bike I’d omitted to check that it had the same spec as mine, and she only had 7 gears to power her up to the top of the hamlet.
At this point the map ceased to be of use to us. However, we were enjoying pedalling along the plateau at the top so much and looking out across the whole of the Cote D’Or valley. There is huge biodiversity here with an abundance of brightly coloured butterflies dancing along the hedgerows that intersperse with the vineyards. We even spotted wild myrtle berries growing, I’m tempted to bring some back on my next trip to include in my re-creation of that wonderful crumble we ate at lunchtime.
The track disappeared at the end of the village but in the distance we could see the village of Chassagne-Montrachet so decided to push on along the off road track used by the vigneron to access his vines. As we reached the edge of the plateau we reached one of my favourite views that we saw on the “Tour du Vin” . The view was looking towards Chassagne-Montrachet and St.Aubin and is nicely captured in this short panoramic film clip.
As we descended towards Chassagne-Montrachet you pass the busy road to St.Aubin.
We toyed with the idea of making a further diversion out to St. Aubin and Auxey-Duresse but decided against it as a train of French lorries hurtled past us!
Away from the busy main road we picked up the veloroute again as it passes through the village of Chassgne-Montrachet. You have to really hand it to these guys as modesty is never a strong point as this sign at the entrance to the village proclaims.
One of the reasons we wanted to do the veloroute was for both of us to enjoy a degustation of our beloved Burgundian whites but an hour into the ride not a drop had passed our lips! We were sure that Chassagne-Montrachet would deliver but sadly August is not a great time to visit any Domaines as the majority take their holidays before the harvest.
Disappointed we pushed on through the village which then drops down onto the veloroute into Santenay village, passing a lone windmill on an outcrop along the edge of the ridge forming the Cote D’Or, we arrived in the village of Santenay after about 20 minutes.
As we were heading into the village my phone rang, but I didn’t pick up in time. The phone went to voicemail and was from a French number!
I pressed the spooled symbol on the phone eagerly awaiting the message. It was entirely in French, of course and from a lady at Domaine Sébastien Magnien who had picked up my earlier message. OMG! I was being invited to attend a personal degustation at the Domaine the next morning at 10am!! RESULT.
I rang her back, thanking her profusely for her kindness and also confirming that 10am would be perfect. This really was cause for celebration. We pedalled on to the main square and spotted a little cafe/restaurant with tables and chairs outside by the village fountains. Where we took our degustation break!
L’Etape de Santenay
10 Place du Jet d’eau
With the anticipation of the first mouthful of Chardonnay on our lips, I asked for the Carte du Vin.
They were serving a 2013 Jacques Giradin Santenay “Les Terraces de Bievaux” by the glass at a very modest price. A moment later the waiter was bringing out two large glasses of these perfectly served at the correct temperature of approximately 12C, the classic cellar temperature.
Serving really good Chardonnay too chilled ( below 12C) is a sure fire way to mask the complexities and flavours that these wines possess. Conversely, if you are ever faced with a dinner party guest bringing you a bottle of wine made from an insipid version of this wonderful grape serve it as cold as you like to make it more palatable unless of course you prefer to keep, to give away to the bottle stall at the village fair, as I usually do!,
I really became aware of this several years ago when staying at a lovely Chambres d’hôtes outside Beaune which had a Chardonnay fridge set at 12C for guests to chill their own wine in, if they were taking a picnic in their gardens! We sat enjoying the late afternoon sun in Santenay square and the Santenay went down a treat.
Over drinks we reflected on some of the more amusing anecdotes from our adventures so far. The impromptu diversion from the local policeman in La Cadiere D’Azur to avoid a funeral cortège which saw me driving down a narrow cobbled Provençal street making a 90 right turn and getting stuck as the road width diminished to about 6 inches wider then the car! We only got out f that one courtesy of a local who took pity on us and helped us by giving intricate “left a bit right a bit directions” in French. Then there was the dinner in Meursault the previous night when the cheese course came BEFORE the main course! Half way through the cheese and with Gillian and Inlooked in a dispute about the peculiarities of Burgundinan service , the bar man confirmed that in fact in Burgundy they didn’t actually serve the cheese before the main course,they had just forgotten to serve it!!
Next we pushed on along our return leg of the journey north towards one of the most famous villages in Burgundy. Puligny-Montrachet is a very different place to its similarly named neighbour. On a more level aspect and with slightly more impressive architecture we headed straight for the centre of the village where we found the charming Hotel Le Montrachet .
They serve an extensive range of wines by the glass kept in tip top condition by the Enomatic machine behind the bar. We took a table outside and perused the Carte du Vin opting for a 2011 Puligny-Montrachet by Domaine Alain Chavy ” Premier Cru Les Folatieres”. This was rich and buttery and had all the flavours that One expects from a great white from this most famous of Burgundinan terroirs and of coursed served at exactly the right temperature!
Now feeling slightly tipsy and just remembering that the main shops in Meursault closed at 7pm we jumped back onto our bikes and pedalled furiously the 2 to 3 miles back to Meursault. Arriving at Le Traiteur ( no I know what you’re thinking and it’s the caterer come deli!) we just had time to order a few local delicacies (ham in parley and aspic/ pate en croute/ shredded carrot salad) and then it was off to the boulangerie.
But….. Oh la la… It was closed. So with our heads hung low we walked to the supermarché to pick up some tomatoes and crispbreads.
We had one final stop to make and we knew they shut later than the other stores after an earlier recce!
La Petite Vadrouille is more than just a deli. Whether you’re up for a picnic, a sandwich or you want a glass of wine and nibbles outside in the evening sun, this is the place! Hey, and when it comes to regional Burgundian cheese, these guys are the daddies!!
Went for total Burgundian cheese fest with the above 2 beauties leading the way, followed by a Clos Burgong, a Burgundian take on Gruyère and of course Epoisse.
Armed with our produce for our picnic on the balcony we returned the bikes to the Gite rental place and set up setting up our picnic on the balcony. As we looked to the left of our balcony the sun was setting over Meursault and we saw this serene sight.
The fact that we had no bread was still vexing me , so I gingerly walked into the prestigious restaurant at our hotel. Paul, the hotel manager was so sweet and took pity on us and gifted us a baguette from the kitchen so we could really appreciate the cheese! It’s no surprise to know that he had the pleasure of running the restaurant at Claridges many years ago where he was used to dealing with all sorts of unusual requests from guests!
Back on our balcony and with harmony restored to the picnic we opened up the Bagnum of Le Grappin Rosé and said “Salut” to Paul, the restaurant manager.