Category Archives: Beaune Wine Cellar Project

Authentic France Travel Tip #49: Taste, Buy, and Hoard the 2009 Vintage

You heard it here first. Burgundy’s 2009 vintage is poised to be one of those fabulous vintages that stand out this century.

The ideal conditions started with the perfect weather for growing and ripening grapes throughout this year, and crescendoed in lovely dry weather for the harvest which meant that the gorgeous, sugary grapes were brought in, de-stemmed, and juiced with an unusually low incidence of mildew or rot.

It was a particularly joyous vendanges in Burgundy this year; everyone involved felt like they were part of something truly wonderous. Many are saying that the 2009 vintage may even surpass the superlative 2005 vintage, which wine buyers can barely get their hands on anymore. It is sold out at most domaines.

Maybe it will even measure up to the sublime 1929 vintage – a few bottles of which savvy winemakers throughout Burgundy still hoard in their cellars.

So if you are travelling to France over the next few years, jump at any opportunity to taste, buy, and hoard 2009 Burgundy reds and whites (don’t forget we rent out space in our newly renovated 13th Century wine cellar in Beaune for a mere 200 Euros per year – I’m working on getting a page about this online).

Also, if you are going to be around Beaune for the 3rd weekend in November take the opportunity to take part in the world-famous Hospices de Beaune winetasting and taste the 2009 vintage from the barrel before it is even released to the market!

We might be able to help you arrange this, just email me here.

Because as any visitor can tell you, the heart of Beaune and its surrounding villages is its wine. The 2009 vintage is liquid proof that it’s beating strong.


2009 Harvest Report

For you wine-lovers out there, here is insider information in regards to Burgundy’s 2009 Vintage.

The harvesting is just drawing to a close all over Burgundy. The summary below comes straight from my friend Charlotte who is celebrating the traditional “Paulée” that marks the end of harvest with all of the vendangeurs that worked at the family’s DomaineDomaine Buffet in Volnay probably…well, probably at this very moment as a matter of fact!

“MO ets très satisfait de ce qui est rentré, une quantité normale plus mais surtout de très beaux raisins, peu de pourris et des très bons degrés…”

This translates that her husband, who is the Domaine’s winemaker, is very happy with the superb quality of the grapes which are both high in sugar and troubled by very few cases of rot or mildew.

The good news from the harvest has been pouring in throughout this week all over Burgundy. The overwhelming consensus is that 2009 is a Burgundy vintage to watch for in the years to come. Some are saying that it may prove as good, or even better, than the now-famous (and long-ago sold out) 2005 vintage.

In Vino Veritas!

Le Caveau in Action

On Saturday night Franck finagled babysitting for the bevy and we went down to Beaune to meet several people for an apéritif at Le Caveau du Relais du Vieux Beaune.

Besides Franck and I, there were the Browns (who had just stayed at La Maison de la Vieille Vigne) and their friends who just so happened to be wine importers to the US, the Stones (who were staying at Le Relais du Vieux Beaune) and our friend Marjorie who runs the fabulous Cook’s Atelier and her lovely friend from Arizona.

Here Franck is explaining something, probably my wife was so gracious about me having to work nights and weekends sandblasting this cellar while she looked after our bevy (Not).

More likely, it was something about our fantastique cooling system which is being installed next week.

We served Claire’s wine (bien sûr) and everyone had a choice between a refined white and an elegant red. Marjorie claimed her spot for her and her daughter Kendall’s wine.

I think our Saint Vincent over at his post on the far wall was very pleased. We even got a photo of Franck and I, a rare occurrence as usually I am always the one behind the camera.

In Vino Veritas!

Frenchitude Lesson #38: Put Down Some Wine

It is second nature for most French people, and especially for most Burgundians, to put down and age certain bottles of wine in order to be able to pull them out an enjoy them down the road.

Almost every child born in Burgundy has several bottles of wine bottled in their birth year put down for them, as well as bottles put down to commemorate their christenings, holy communions, passing their Bacs, and all the other myriad of rites of passage in their French lives.

Franck and I put down several bottles that we had received as wedding gifts (one of the advantages of getting married in Burgundy!) and have since enjoyed many of them at our girls’ baptisms.

For me, opening a bottle of symbolic (not to mention sublimely aged, if you’re lucky) wine imparts any rite of passage with extra meaning. In putting the wine down you are betting on a joyous future filled with celebrations and loved ones to share them with. The act of opening a bottle of cellared wine recognizes that this optimistic view of the future has, fortuitously, come true.

Besides, I hate fruitcake.

The day before he left to go back to Canada my Dad transferred most of his wine from our house here at La Maison des Chaumes to his new slot at the Caveau du Relais du Vieux Beaune wine cellar.

Now his wine will be safe from both temperature variations and his thirsty daughter and son-in-law. My Dad has wisely locked the metal gate over his store of wine, and pocketed his key.

However my Dad, who was in a particularly magnanimous mood, marked his wine stash as belonging to “The Bradbury Family”, and declared that the wine is for the whole family to enjoy, whenever they want. He is a very brave man if he isn’t worried that Franck and I might not take him up on this. Just look at all that Grand Cru Chablis…

In any case, it is always meaningful to be pull out a bottle of aged wine for a special occasion; a wedding, a baptism, an engagement, or even just a sublime Sunday meal with friends.

Before you pull out your bottles though, you must cellar the wine in the first place.

It is my belief that while a cellar is ideal, it is by no means necessary. Any cool place with minimal temperature variations and the highest possible level of humidity will do…

Poke around in your own closets and basement and see if you can’t find such a place in your home. If not, survey your relatives and / or friends’ houses – the ones you would trust with your life, thus your wine – to see if they don’t possess such a spot.

The next step is to acquire a few bottles of wine that have every chance of aging well. Although many red and white Bordeaux and Burgundies (and yes, I’m totally biased) come to mind, there are also excellent New World wines that age extremely well.

If in doubt consult one of your oenophile friends, who undoubtedly will have very strong and entertaining opinions on the subject, or the staff at your favorite local wine store.

Make sure you lie your wine bottles on their sides, just like you’re putting them to sleep. Shut off the light and let them snooze away.

And as for choosing the ideal moment to draw out your hidden treasures to share with the world…believe me, just like falling in love, your gut and your Frenchitude will just know it.

In Vino Veritas!

Wine Cellar Baptism

We’re still recovering, but here are some photos from the baptism of our wine cellar, now officially named Le Caveau du Relais du Vieux Beaune, over the weekend. More details to come…

Merci a tous nos familles, amis, et voisins!

Close-Up Of Our Dragon (I Think) Tap

This is for Arne, who wanted to see a close-up of our dragon faucet mounted on the ancient stone sink in the Beaune wine cellar. Now I look at the photo a bit more closely though, I am starting to wonder if it is not in fact a duck…or maybe a platypus. Opinions, anyone?

Progress is still going full steam ahead and the most recent task has been replacing the trapdoor which leads from the sidewalk down into the cellar. Beaune’s sidewalks are dotted with such trapdoors every few feet, and many new visitors to the town don’t realize that each and every one of these trapdoors leads down to a wine cellar (known as a cave in French).

As I always say, Beaune is in fact two towns; the one above ground, and the honeycomb of wine cellars and precious bottles below the streets.

We have also installed our ergonomic hand rail. We ended up installing it on the right hand side, as per the majority of reader votes, heading up to the street so that guests to the cellar won’t topple off into the gravel after a tasting.

We may also install another rail on the left later on, but we’re going to wait and see if we lose anyone off that side first!

In Vino Veritas!

Running Water Comes to 13th Century Beaune Wine Cellar!

We now have a deadline.

The Beaune wine cellar under our apartment building at #19 rue Rousseau Deslandes has to be ready for May 17th.

Pourquoi? Well, because Franck and I have scheduled the official “baptism’ ceremony for the cellar (including naming a cellar godmother and cellar godfather – essential procedure as far as cellar baptisms go in Burgundy) for May 17th and have already started inviting people.

Tip: This is sometimes, especially when you have three kids and a very busy life, the only way to get a renovation project finished.

As a consequence the cellar work has been going full tilt over the last few days. Franck and our mystery cellar expert have installed the ancient stone sink and stone washboard for rinsing off the glasses after a tasting.

I picked out the dragon’s mouth bronze tap. Chouette, non? Even better – it works!

The next task is installing the metal door over each individual wine storage “block” (there are 18 in total) so that everyone can have a key to their own independent wine stash. You can see these “grilles” leaning against the wall in the above photo.

I have to say that Franck and I are very, very pleased with how the Beaune wine cellar is coming along. I think we actually may have it ready before our May 17th deadline, which would definitely be a first.

If you want more information about becoming a member of the Beaune wine cellar – the official name is being revealed at the baptism ceremony – which includes renting a wine storage unit (or several) and enjoying free access to the cellar for entertaining and tastings, just contact me directly.

In the meantime, in vino veritas!