Old School Wine Growing At Bichot in Burgundy

Four days in Burgundy for vineyard visits, technical tastings, more than a few decadent meals (bookended by foie gras and bewitching cheeses) and the Hospice de Beaune wine auction, reminded me why this region and its wines are so special. From the limestone in the Cote de Beaune to the marl of the Cote de Nuits, it’s about the soil, and farming the fruit in that soil to optimize the potential of each distinct plot. Here at Chateau Gris in the appellation of Nuits-Saint-Georges, they grow violet-scented, structured Pinot Noir, as well as a rarity – Nuits-Saint-Georges Blanc based on  Chardonnay. Only 4 producers make Nuits Blanc, and the bottling from Albert Bichot’s Chateau Gris estate is marvelous – saline, savory and almost masculine. You could even serve it with meals featuring roasted or grilled meat and you’d be thrilled.

These special plots are given the royal treatment by Bichot’s viticulturists, who farm them organically by hand. Using horses to cultivate the vineyard avoids compacting the soil versus the weight of a tractor, and less compacted soil is healthier, with better air exchange. This aids in the distribution of soil nutrients and the transfer of those nutrients to the plant. That results in greater plant health and thus, better grapes that make great wines. John preferred the Nuits Blanc, while I was partial to the violet- and lavender-scented Nuits-Saint-Georges rouge. Both are worth the search. I would pair the blanc with a saffron-scented dish such as saffron-garlic shrimp or even paella. For the red, a simple roast chicken or mushroom pasta would be heavenly.