Drink Wine--Leave the Car
Nicolas arranged a wine tasting for us at Château de Santenay, castle of Philippe le Hardi or Philip the Bold, son of Jean le Bon or John the Good.
Philippe, the first duke of Burgundy, mandated the use of Pinot Noir and only Pinot Noir in Burgundy's wines. Odile led our tour, telling us all the scoop. A local man bought the property in 1960, enlarged the holdings, and repaired the buildings. He drained the moat and now the area is used for bottling operations and parking. He sold in 1988, leaving his wife behind and taking his secretary. Larger than the other wineries we've visited in this area, Château de Santenay owns 97 hectares of wines and produces half a million bottles of wine a year. We tasted two whites: a 2008 Mercurey, unusual because 90% of the production around Mercurey is Pinot Noir; a 2008 Saint-Aubin; and two reds: a 2009 Mercurey Cuvée Héloïse; and a 2009 Santaney Premiere Cru Les Graviereres - only 3 barrels of this wine is made each year.
We had a little time before lunch and decided to check out the village of Bouzeron where they use Aligoté, a grape rarely used in Burgundy. No tasting rooms were open and we arrived early for our lunch in the town of Volnay. Nicolas had told us about Le Cellier Volnaysien, this fabulous restaurant where we could get coq au vin with sauce thickened with lie-de-vin or the lees left from making wine. The gluten-free among us couldn't wait to taste this regional treat. Nathalie, the owner, told us that the sauce has flour as well as lees, and the gluten-free fought back-insisting that it had lees and not flour, unable to believe that we'd miss out on the dish. She checked with the cook and assured us that it had flour. The food was all delicious and no one left hungry. Nathalie encouraged us to end our meal with small glasses of Marc de Bourgogne and Liqueur de Prunelle (Sloe), a drink made from the seeds of blackthorn that smelled of almonds.
Early in the lunch, we decided that no one should have to pass on the local wines and agreed to leave the van and walk back home. Meursault is about 3 kilometers through the vineyards from Volnay and we had a great stroll. When our alcohol levels had evened out, a few of us returned on foot to pick up the van. By having our final meal at lunchtime, the evening freed up for packing, reading, and resting before the early morning departure. And of course, dinner was wine and potato chips and to accompany our favorites, some cheese and sausage.