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For double the pleasure of touring the vineyards of France you can also actually stay with a winemaker. One of the occasions when we did this was in 2004 in the small village of Quincey just outside of Nuits Saint Georges, Burgundy. Dufouleur Pere Et Fils are old established winemakers based in Nuits St Georges and we stayed in a family Chambres D’Hotes in the Place de L’Egise, Quincey. It was run by a couple who are older members of the family but monsieur was clearly still actively involved in the wine business. Madam was very friendly and welcoming and could not have done any more to settle us in to our stay after a long journey down from Calais. We did not meet her husband until the following morning.
The room was very French country style with a mixture of traditional furniture but although eclectic it gave a lovely feel to the room. We could only be in one place – Burgundy. Madam had kindly booked us a meal at L’Alambic restaurant in Nuits and before we set out for town she served us an aperitif of family wine on the terrace. She did not speak vast amounts of English but her French was spoken slowly and clearly and we were able to converse well. The main topic of conversation other than the family wine concern was Jacques Chirac the President of France at that time. She hated the man with a vengeance. Sadly, I cannot enlighten you as to the specific reason for her venom as this was the one time she spoke rapidly and animatedly and I could not follow it all. President Bush did come into the rant she was having so you can draw your own conclusions.
Our evening meal was excellent. The restaurant on the road leading down to Beaune served well cooked local produce and the setting inside was reminiscent of being in a wine cellar with exposed stone walls. We did not linger as we were tired and back in Quincey we slept soundly, awakening to birdsong and ready for the day ahead.
At the breakfast table madam was busy laying a fine spread of homemade jams and preserves, bread and croissants from the local boulangerie and aromatic coffee. The baking was wonderful and I could not wait to get started. Before we could begin monsieur arrived at the table. He nodded to us but said not a word. He was dressed as you may expect of a vigneron, heavily stained clothes held together by a thick leather belt. I sensed that these working clothes were destined to take him up to his retirement. He looked to have a busy day ahead of him as harvest time was imminent. I could tell that conversation would be limited to say the least as madam dutifully served him his breakfast. I reached for a croissant and some of the gorgeous bread and selected a jam. But where is the butter? After scouring the large farmhouse table I could see it was resident in front of monsieur. Guarded in fact by his penetrating gaze and an invisible force field. His resolute silence said it all. I said to Niamh that I need the butter and hoped that she would get it for me. She was having none of that. There was no way she was asking him. He started his breakfast and I am sure must have realised our desire for the lovely pat of Burgundy butter in front of him. The butter stayed. I could not summon up the courage to part him from his butter and so my breakfast fell short of the mark despite the wonderful ingredients. Niamh to this day still reminds me of my timidity with this man but he just had such a powerful presence about him. In my seat I stayed and missed a treat.
One treat we did have was later in the day at the family domaine located at 17 Rue Thurot, 21700 Nuits-Saint-Georges. They were warned we were coming as clients of the Chambres D’Hotes so we got a great welcome and an extra special tasting. We happily added some red Nuits Saint Georges Burgundy to our collection and left contentedly to stroll the town. However, this wine visit will always be remembered for the butter and not the wine.
As with my other three books that tell of our memorable encounters with the people and places of France this one is designed not specifically as a guide book but to inspire and encourage you to travel as soon as it is possible. I know you will not be disappointed.
However, I have in this book given the location and contact details of the vineyards and cellars we visited and all I am sure will delight you when you turn up at that cellar or domaine door
I apologize in advance for the overuse of the word ‘terroir’ and sadly I am still unable to give you a definitive definition of this uniquely French term.