As September, (our busiest month so far), drew to a close, we managed a day out to visit a restaurant that had been recommended to us in slightly unusual terms during the course of the season.
The village of Chablis is in Burgundy, about an hour and a half's pleasant drive through attractive countryside, en route passing some of the great attractions of the proud history of Burgundy. Commarin, Semur-en-Auxois, Epoisses, and Vezelay to name but a few, with the magnificent Abbe de Fontenay not far off route. However these are places that we had already visited, and written about in the Burgundy Guides, and as we did not get away until 11.00, and had a table booked for lunch at 12.30, we made straight for our destination - and what a destination it turned out to be!
Some months earlier, a wine maker friend had told us about a small auberge in the Chablisienne countryside, where the food was good, but the main attraction was the wine list. It was described with a confidential reverence, a list that was an anachronism, the particulars of which should be safeguarded, as publicity would inevitably deplete the treasures available for the privileged few aware of its existence. And the description of the venue was perfect - the main room of the restaurant a quaint throw back to an earlier era. Comfort food of a high order, and a wine list so far as Burgundy references is concerned, that is almost certainly unmatched in terms of quality/price ratio. An aperitif of Chablis Savary 2013 was a delight, followed by a half bottle of Roumier Chambolle Musigny 2008 for 30e. Is there another restaurant in the world where amongst 40,000 bottles comprising over 600 references, you could find several vintages of Coche Dury Bourgogne for 30e per 75cl bottle? The whereabouts of this vineous treasure, we preserve for our guests who take the Chablis Tour, however the building it occupies was formerly the coach house for the Chateau immediately behind it, and the Chateau is for sale. So if anyone with a thirst for fine wine at bargain prices is looking for a 1,700m2 pile in the French countryside - look no further!
The village of Chablis itself is charming - with similar Roman origins, and as well cared for as Gevrey Chambertin, but more developed, with many more shops and commercial offerings. After a visit to the winery of Daniel Defait, we made for a well stocked wine shop on the main street, and purchased one bottle of each Chablis made 'en bio'. This turned up yet another gem - Clos Beru, a monopole of the Chateau de Beru. A domaine in the same family for 400 years. Now owned by the Comte Eric de Beru, and farmed by his wife Laurence and their daugher Athenais, they are progressing from an organic viticulture to a bio dynamic one. A clos since the 13C, producing a wine which is powerful, round and mineral, from 35 year old root stock.
Then the return to Gevrey, new guests to welcome, new wines to taste, and Wales v Fiji as the latest thrilling installment in a Rugby world cup that has so far produced some tense and hard fought encounters, with hopefully more to come - not least later today when England take on Australia!