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L’expérience Française

When time and passion can turn into a benefit for the children of the Cape Winelands, commitment becomes happiness! Carolyn Martin of Creation Wines and the Cape Wine Auction allowed me to offer Lloyd and Annabelle Meaker along with their friends Frédéric and Frédérique Raynaud, four days in the vineyards of Burgundy in September 2022. The lot which fetched a record amount included a Mediterranean chapter, including dinner at one of France’s most eminent, Michelin-starred restaurants, JAN in Nice.

It was in Beaune, capital of Burgundy wines, that we anchored our trip. The bells of the Hôtel-Dieu rang first. Worthy echoes of the heavens, slender, flamboyant, adorned with dreams like a piece of heaven on earth. What would Beaune be without this venerable monument? A round hat without its plume. The first tasting was dedicated to old vintages from the Domaine des Hospices de Beaune, thanks to the astonishing collection of the Maison Patriarche. A startling introduction.

It was then the turn of our beautiful Notre-Dame de Beaune Collegiate Church: a treasure of Cluniac Romanesque art with its pilasters and pointed arches, the blondness of its stone and its incredible refinement which for 836 years has overwhelmed us, always with the same intensity.

The evening, equally marked by spirituality, was crowned by an enchanting dinner in the heart of the Convent of the Jacobins, an exceptional setting dating back to the 15th century, owned by the Maison Louis Jadot. Special thanks to Pierre-Henry Gagey, Director of the house for his very personal welcome, as well as to my friend Pierrick.

We continued to count the beads on the rosary of great wines the next day on the Champs Elysées of the Côte de Nuits-Saint-Georges. Bernard Bouvier, harvesting owner in Gevrey-Chambertin in the classicism and honesty of his work, plucked two ringing strings with his Chambolle-Musigny Les Fuées and his Gevrey-Chambertin Les Racines du Temps.

In the phantasmagoria of its large roofs and its presses that look like Roman catapults, Le Clos de Vougeot, wine-growing property of the Abbey of Cîteaux since 1108, captured our imagination.  Here the bouquet of excellence of our culture unfolds like the spectrum of light in as many colours and inspiring facets as the tapestries of Michel Tourlière. Thibault Liger-Belair was a moment of wide-ranging tasting just like Martin Prieur at his estate in Meursault! We will not forget the Domaine de Suremain in Rully, the Domaine de Villaine in Bouzeron, the Château de Germolles, Le Globe restaurant in Meursault and so many other places of history and poetry which all received us so warmly!

It was a pleasure to have shared these unforgettable moments in Burgundy and for such a good cause: the youth of South Africa!

Baptiste Quinard 8. Feb 2023


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