Talk About A Wine With Age!
These are bottles of wine, stored in one of Burgundy’s most iconic wine cellars, and yes, these bottles are covered with mold!
It’s not only completely safe – it will allow them to age longer! Time to explore the wine caves of J. Drouhin!
Welcome To Burgundy France!
It’s one of the world’s most famous wine regions, and it’s less than 4 hours by car from Paris – so we had to drive there with our friends Karen and Bruce – who are experts on the subject of Burgundy wine, so they arranged an incredible tour for us!
It was our first time visiting this bucolic region – and we dove right in by visiting the incredible wine caves of the legendary Joseph Drouhin Domaine in Beaune!
The entrance is in the lemony cream building on the right…it’s right on the town square – because their wine caves are underneath the town – this entire area sits atop their caves!
Alex entered the tasting room where you can buy their incredible Burgundy wines…and see that dark doorway behind her?
Those are the stairs down to the cellar!
At the bottom of the stairs is a large room, with a very cool, classic wine press in the center!
This photo shows you just how much effort it takes to work the press!
As the winery’s website notes:
With 80 hectares (197.5 acres), the Joseph Drouhin Domaine is one of the largest estates in the region. It owns vineyards in all of Burgundy: Chablis (38 hectares – 94 acres), Côte de Nuits and Côte de Beaune, (38.5 hectares – 95 acres), Côte Chalonnaise (3,5 hectares – 8.5 acres). It is comprised of a majority of Premier and Grand Crus, planted with the two Burgundian grape varietals, pinot noir and chardonnay.
And as you look at this classic press, I will share a bit more from the company about where we are going next!
The Cellars of the Kings of France and the Cave of the Parliament!
This 13th Century cellar was built on the foundations of the ancient “castrum” (a Roman fort of the 4h Century). The cellar belonged to the Dukes of Burgundy, who owned an important vineyard domaine in Burgundy. Above this cellar is the great hall of the Parliament where the Dukes enacted legislation.
At the death of Marie de Bourgogne, the cellars became the property of the French crown (under Louis XI, in the 15th Century).
That’s right, some very powerful people wandered these cellars!
As you can see, the caves are low, barely six feet high, and they seemed to go on forever! Yes, I found time for my “upside down selfie” as well…
We walked through caves filled with wine barrels, and the cave seemed to stretch on forever, until we came to an area where individual bottles were stored:
Some of these bottles are decades and decades old – some more than a hundred years!
They are tested regularly to see how they are gaining, but now we come to the “caged” wine – where it’s more than mold, it’s a form of penicillin!
A terrific Forbes magazine article once discussed this mold in caves…
“These caves are alleyways of storage niches containing bottles from more than 130 years of the winery’s history. They call it a “cemetery.” To me it is more like catacombs, or perhaps a suspension bridge on a micro scale: the solid structure of the bottles lay like so many pylons side by side, spindly cables of mold dangling from one to another.
The mold also covers the walls of the cave. It’s penicillin, I’m told. It grows – thrives, in fact – in the conditions of this cool, damp underground that measure 12 degrees Centigrade and 100% humidity.
The mold is also a function of time.”
As you can see, the dust and mold is allowed to stay on the bottles, actually preserving them even better – they don’t have any labels as the conditions would ruin them…and after such an extensive tour, we decided to taste their incredible wine!
The winery is world famous for the quality of their wine – like their beautifully lush Cote de Beaune:
Their incredible Vosne-Romanee was described in Robert Parker’s tasting notes as “wafting from the glass with scents of dark berry fruit, orange rind and grilled squab, complemented by a deft overlay of new oak. Medium to full-bodied, textural and expansive, it’s supple and enveloping, its generous core of fruit underpinned by velvety tannins and ripe acids.”
This vintage poster led the way to tasting what was, for me, a stunningly delicious wine:
One writeup had this to say:
“Clos des Mouches Rouge has deepened and fleshed out since I tasted it from barrel, and today its superb potential is impossible to dispute. Wafting from the glass with a rich bouquet of raspberries, black cherries, rich soil tones and spices and deftly framed by toasty new oak, the wine is medium to full-bodied, fleshy but vibrant, with a layered, textural mid-palate, velvety tannins and a long, precise finish. This is a serious, broad-shouldered Clos des Mouches that will offer a broad drinking window.”
Luckily, the winery was able to ship a case of their wine to us in Los Angeles, and we cannot wait for more!
Oh, we also came across this barrel, which took us back to an incredible visit we had that morning:
Does that name look familiar? It should!
This terrific winery is located near another incredible tourist site in Beaune, France:
The Hospices de Beaune!
Yes, the winery make a special blend to honor the Hospices, which is an incredible destination as well…click here for my tour!
The Burgundy and Bordeaux wine regions of France were incredible – especially whenI came across this local winery worker:
Yes, these fields were being plowed manually by a horse!
Click here for the video of this classic form of vineyard maintenance!
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If you enjoy these moments, please share on social media – and get ready for more European adventures….let me know if you’ve been to the Burgundy wine region!