Having visited most of the other big Wine exhibitions we had never been to Vinitaly in Verona, a great opportunity presented itself this year but it meant landing from the trip down under and leaving again three days later for Italy. As with any trip to a country that speaks a different language always go with a native! Our native in this case is our old friend Gaetano Sallesio one of the owners Enopoli the Restaurant Buying Club that we have worked with for many years and who have sourced some great wines for us over that time. We are hoping to fit in some visit’s to new producers as well as to see some old friends like Alessandro Fabiano the source of our ‘Bocca della V’ (Veritas) named after the famous Church door in Rome.
We had decided to drive down so that after Vinitaly we could go back into France and Spain to visit producers with whom we wish to catch up.

FRIDAY 21the March 2015:

The Jet Lag has left us shattered in the evening and awake at 5.00am bright eyed and bushy tailed so it seemed like good idea to pack before Gaetano arrived at 7.30am for an early start on Eurostar!
Gathering courage to do the Chunnel yet again was just the first time of what was to be many subterranean experiences on this trip. After this trip I can assure you that the person who said that you can overcome your phobia’s by indulging in them regularly talks a load of baloney!

Since the trip is a long one we decided to split it in half and stop halfway down in France at Chalon Sur Soane, more precisely at the Hotel St Regis a hotel Brian and I discovered nearly 30yrs ago when it was part of the Best Western franchise. Since then we have stayed there many times both socially and for business but not for about five years. Having got lost in the new ‘One Way’ system which seemed to want to go any way but the way we wanted we arrived at the Hotel to see that it has had a facelift. Like many Hotels of it era it has always been ‘Bien Francais’ and has always reminded me of the French saying that “The food is more important than the table it is served on!” In other words the rooms have been clean ad tidy but not luxurious whilst the restaurant has been superb!

St Regis OutsideThings change, and as yet we had not downloaded the European maps for the trusty NAVMAN, or in our case woman, the lovely lady who had guided us all the way through NZ and Australia, so we got lost in the new one-way system in Chalons sur Saone! Don’t know about one-way, it seemed to us that the roads went every way but the way we wanted!
We did make it and found that both the outside and the Bedrooms had received a major makeover which made us a bit worried about the ‘table’ in the restaurant!

We need not have worried, the service was its great old fashioned, understated, self and the menu just as good. We were taken aback when we received the wine list however, it used to be a bible but what we were handed amounted to little more than a couple of psalms! Again we need not have worried in that although it was smaller the quality still remained. We passed on the “La Tâche” Domaine Romanée Conti 1972 at 360€ however good that is value wise, we felt a bit excessive for a Friday night in March! Instead we settled for a couple of wines from the Burgundy Company we have worked with in the past via McKinley’s in London, BCC. It looked to us as if most of the regular list were from members of the BCC selling consortium.
Chateau de la Saule Montagny 1er Cru 2011: the largest and a most prestigious Domaine in the appellation of Montagny, has been in the Roy family since 1805. Alain Roy, the current proprietor, has been responsible for the Domaine since 1972 and we met him when we visited with agency owner Peter McKinley. For lessor know White Burgundy at a good price this house is unbeatable. This 2011 was perfect to go with the Amuse Bouche, a small tranche of excellent smoked salmon with homemade sardine pate on a sliver of French toast. It also sat well with the 9 huitres ‘fines de claire’ n°3, that Gaetano and I had as starters and the Petite cocotte d’escargots à la crème de chou fleur, tomaté d’oignons rouges, toast au foie gras that Brian had! Despite its bottle age the wine has a lemony butteryness that some may find too much but a keen acidity that leaves the mouth fresh.

It is the sommeliers practice at the St Regis to serve the white wine at cellar temperature and the chill it to taste in a bucket rather thanSt Regis Dining Room as is usual in London chill the wine to death and then desperately try to warm it up at the table!  I chose the Filet de Dorade grise poëlé au beurre noir avec un gratin d’épinard whilst the othertwo went for the Quasi de Veau rôti, crème de morilles avec des asperges vertes.
To match this we went for a light Burgundy.

Givry Rouge, Maison René Bourgeon, 2011: Givry is one of the lessor known southern Burgundy wines, this a small house operated by Jean-François, the son of René Bourgeon (now retired), the estate includes ten ha in the Côte Chalonnaise, mostly planted with Pinot Noir. Much thought and a will to produce wine which bats above its price goes into producing optimal expression of its vineyards in both Jambles and Givry. He has adopted the principle of cold maceration to release colour and fix the most valuable aromas. Jean-François Bourgeon offers particularly interesting Givrys, this one was a bit disappointing to begin with despite being open a good half an hour before pouring, but delighted to say that with 10 minutes in the glass the notes of juicy black cherries with a hint of forest floor came through it became tangy although it was light in style it had intensity of flavour which was exactly what was required for both my beurre noir cooked Dorade and the others light Veal.

‘And so to bed’ after a long day travelling the delights of a traditional French mattress!

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