Quaint and Quiet: Part Trois

June 3, 2010 at 10:29 PM 3 comments

After our walk, we settled back in at our bed and breakfast, Chateau Les Roches:

Chateau Les Roches, Mont-Saint-Jean, France

You can read all about the bed and breakfast, see photos in their photo gallery and get a good feel for the place by clicking here to visit their website. I did manage to get a few photos of our room and view as well:

This is a large bathroom by European standards. Notice that there's no shower curtain. The half "shield" there did a great job, though!

The view from our room

Our balcony!

I felt like I was in Pride and Prejudice, at one point during our dinner in the dining room on Saturday evening, the theme song from the Pride and Prejudice movie came on. I smiled, took a long look around the room and enjoyed envisioning myself in the midst of that book/movie.

I’m going to try not to mention every little detail; however, Marco’s (one of the owner’s) cooking deserves at least a paragraph in my retelling of the weekend. He made a fantastic Greek salad for us on Friday night. When I ordered it, I envisioned having to pick out all the olives. Much to my surprise, his Greek salad had zero olives in it. Can we say love? The salad had fresh greens (of course), tomatoes, nuts (I can’t remember what kind), Feta cheese, chive flowers (!) and a light oily dressing. If I could have that salad twice a week for the rest of my life, I’d be thrilled. I will have to continue this discussion of Marco’s cooking in one of the following posts, because our four course dinner later in the weekend deserves more than just a blip in this tale.

When it was time for bed, we got another pleasant surprise – our windows had an exterior metal shade that comes down at night. I have seen these all over Germany, but until this weekend, I had not been in a room that had one. I got so excited that I videoed it for you all.

(Click here to view the video on YouTube. Apparently we don’t have the ability to upload video anymore and WordPress is charging $60/year for that functionality. You have to be kidding me.)

The video doesn’t capture the sensation that you get while standing in the room watching the shade come down. If you just stand and watch it come down, it’s easy to get the sensation that you are slowly going up in an elevator. When all the tiny holes close up, it adds the sensation that you are crossing a floor level (as in when you pass between a light and a dark slit in the elevator door).

Saturday morning we had breakfast on the patio, which was a good choice because it rained the rest of the mornings we were there. We had the most delicious croissants, raspberry and lingonberry jam and honey. There was more to the breakfast, but these were the real highlights for us. The honey was lighter than our normal honey – I wish we knew where to buy some. Along with breakfast, we had fresh squeezed orange juice. Is there any other way to enjoy OJ? Unless your answer involves champagne, I disagree with you. We were also spoiled with fantastic coffee and warmed cream. I wish my breakfast was like that every morning. Unfortunately, breakfast in “real life” means a quick cup of coffee and a cup of yogurt, both usually imbibed while standing up in the kitchen. I then grab a FiberOne bar and race out the door. If you tell me I need to get up earlier, I don’t think we can be friends.

As we were wrapping up our breakfast, Brendan Moore, our wine tour guide, showed up. We hired him to show us around the Côte-de-Beaune and Côte-de-Nuits, both of which are about 45 minutes from Mont-Saint-Jean. We first drove by Savigny-lès-Beaune, which is unique because its vineyards primarily face south, while the rest of the vineyards are primarily eastward-facing. We made our first wine stop in Pernand-Vergelesses, where we stopped to look at some vines. I was not expecting to see such old, thick trunks on the vines, so it was interesting to learn that many of the vines are 30-40 years old. There’s a cycle, of course, so some vines are younger, but I would say that the average vine is 30 years old. The roots go down about 20-22 meters deep and get their nutrients from way down in the soil.

There's a small bunch of grapes about to bloom on this vine

Looking toward Corton

Ah, Bourgogne!

In Burgundy, unlike in Bordeaux, the focus of the wine is on the location in which it was grown (terroir – the “somewhereness” of the wine). It is so specific, that for many of the nicer wines, the label will tell you in which vineyard the wine was grown. In Bordeaux, the focus is on the winemaker and a lot of times, what the wine maker does to the grapes after the harvest is more important. Burgundian wine makers are first and foremost farmers. What they do in the field to tend to their vines is of the utmost importance. Once the grapes are harvested, most of the work is over.

Some other quick notes on different notations you might see on a wine label – Grand Cru and Premier Cru.  For Burgundian wine, the term is applied to classified vineyards, with Grand cru being the highest level and Premier cru being the second-highest level, followed by the basic village AOCs. “For Burgundy wines, the terms Premier Cru or 1er Cru are usually kept rather than being translated into English. […] Grand cru (French for great growth) is a regional wine classification that designates a vineyard known for its favorable reputation in producing wine. Although often used to describe grapes, wine or cognac, the term is not technically a classification of wine quality per se, but is intended to indicate the potential of the vineyard or terroir. It is the highest level of classification of AOC wines from Burgundy.” (taken from Wikipedia)

Back to our tour – we stopped in Pernand-Vergelesses at Domaine Denis to meet with Monsieur Denis. He let us sample about 10-12 of his wines, mainly reds, and they were all quite tasty. We started with an aligoté and progressed on to Village, Premier Cru and Grand Crus. The star, however, was a 1992 half bottle Grand Cru. The nose alone was stunning. It will probably be a long time before I enjoy a taste of an 18-year-old wine again, but I’m looking forward to it! Merci beaucoup, Monsieur Denis!

Following our visit at Domaine Denis, Brendan drove us by Corton-Charlemagne, Aloxe-Corton, Ladoix-Serrigny, Mersault, Puligny-Montrachet, and Chassagne-Montrachet. More on Chassagne-Montrachet  later.

P.S. The WordPress spellcheck had a seizure over my spelling in this post. Apparently words like beaucoup, Cru, and Chassagne aren’t English dictionary-friendly. Who knew? 🙂


Entry filed under: Our Goings On, Travel. Tags: , , , , , .

Quaint and Quiet: Part Deux Quaint and Quiet: Part Quatre

3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Samantha  |  June 4, 2010 at 5:13 AM

    I just read all of your posts about your trip, and WOW! It looks like such a fantastic place to visit! I really would love to go there one day! All of the photos you posted were amazing, and I still can’t get over that room you stayed in. Oh, and the salad and the four course meal sound too good to be true… 🙂

    • 2. osarah  |  June 5, 2010 at 10:39 AM

      Thanks! Yeah, the meal was awesome. Since we got back, I have been looking for certain wines and cheese we had while there, and I can’t find them. I think I might have to move there! I know my palate would thank me, but my body probably wouldn’t 🙂

  • 3. Angela  |  June 6, 2010 at 3:42 AM

    This post makes me want to pack up and move into Chateau Les Roches right this instant! Your trip sounds seriously amazing.


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