Nerina and Hennie arrived during the weekend of the gastronomy fête of our neighbouring village, Mailly. It was a long weekend, as the Monday was a public holiday (although a special one in France, as some companies may choose to work on this one with the salaries of that day being donated to charity organisations - don't ask me the detail of how it works. Some things in France you just aceept, you don't try to figure it out...). The Sunday afternoon on our way back home from Hautvillers, a champagne village on the other side of the Montagne de Reims, we had to pass through Mailly's main road and they could see the streets, all being pedestrianised during the festival, packed with people. We had plan to walk the Monday, as it is only about 2.5 km, but after dropping JL at the station, I told them it will get very hot, it will be better to drive. Being the driver I'll just take care on the wine tasting. So off we went, making sure we'll arrive after 10 am, as I have been lecturing them quite a bit that nothing happens before 10 in France...
Fortunately we have arrived before the crowds and parking was easy to find...
One pays an entry fee of 5€ but for that you get a tasting glass and you can taste as much food and wine as you wish. Since JL and I have been there last year as well, I glanced at my list of good wine places to be revisited, to save my mom and friends the difficulty of tasting too many wines before finding the best. (For somebody not fond of admin - my brochures and notes of last year were actually filed under Mailly Foire Gastronomique...)
However, just after the entrance we temporarily ignored my list and tasted some champagne from Mailly, as Nerina & Hennie only arrived the day before and still had to explore champagne. The house had a very good rosé champagne and we've decided we'll buy one on the way back to drink with the salmon that evening.
In the champagne houseThen their tour of good Burgundy wines started. The best two stands of last year were just around the corner...
We have tasted Auxey-Duresses of different years to compare, Monthélie, Pommard, Santenay, Chassagne-Montrachet....Or should I say, I have submerged/drowned my visitors in Bourgogne wines? By lunch time we had tasted 10 wines, including the champagne. My mother gave up before the end. After the Montrachet (one of the best and most expensive Bourgogne wines) she didn't want to taste any other wine, convinced nothing can compare to that, even though she normally doesn't like white wine. When the winery heard that, they offered my mom another glass of Montrachet and we had a good laugh at her jumping at that opportunity. I don't think the family back home would have recognised her! For the sake of the uninformed - these Bourgogne wines are all either Pinot Noir or Chardonnay, but as France do not use the grape variety in the name, but that of the region, these are all different regions you'll find in Bourgogne. And you'll appreciate that a Pinot Noir from Pommard does not taste like a Pinot Noir from Auxey-Duresse.
After all these wines, and buying some paté (which I afterwards agreed with JL is not the best, but after so many tastings it was super) we had to eat lunch. Still lecturing my visitors about French gastronomy, we had a croque monsieur with a twist for lunch, with the strong smelly tasty cheese from the North - Maroille. By then the driver decided to be more prudent and the white Meursault of Bourgogne N&H had to taste alone, 5 different types from the same wine grower.
getting a lecture on Meursault wines
Below: these two guys must have thought we had far too much to drink. We were laughing so much. After tasting the first piece of jambon we got a second, cut a bit thicker. I've said after tasting that I prefer the first and Nerina & my mom agreed, to which Hennie was saying but both were the same. We were mocking him, saying he had too much to drink. Just to be told by the guy after enquiring more that both were the same! Then we were laughing at ourselves!
We even had some street entertainment. Spot the lady in the blue dress in the back pushing the amp!
We left with arms full of wine and food, thankful that the car was not far.
At the gate we were handed a gadget that measure your alcohol levels. As Nerina was forced to taste the most (even Hennie gave up towards the end), she had to test it. Thanks to the long time that we have spent at the fête she was fine (although it took us some time to figure out the gadget...).
The evening we continued at home with our own fête...