A Day in Vezelay

When you think of Burgundy, more often than not the small region of Vezelay doesn’t come to mind. Located approximately an hour and half north west of Beaune,Vezelay is a small appellation that could easily be mistaken for a 16th century countryside. Set among beautiful rolling hills, Vezelay is an extremely small region with only 120 hectares of vines planted; focused mainly on producing Chardonnay and Melon de Bourgonne. Although there is a small amount of Pinot Noir produced, Chardonnay reigns Queen in Vezelay.

After a beautiful drive from Beaune, Alanna, Caroline and myself arrived at Domaine Cadette. Set between a small wood working shop and several other quiet houses, one would never suspect to find a domaine as we arrove at our destination. We were warmly greeted by Catherine and Jean Montenet, the proprietors of Domaine Cadette, and after exchanging pleasantries, Jean loaded us into his station wagon and took us up to his vineyard in the hills of Vezelay.  Despite the chilly, damp weather, the scene was extraordinary; featuring a panoramic view of rolling hills and grazing Charolais (a french breed of white cattle). After walking through the vineyards and admiring the careful attention to detail taken with the vines – Cadette has been organic for 12 years – we made our way back to home of Jean and Catherine for a tasting.

The wines of Domaine Cadette all displayed a gorgeous fresh style, free of overpowering oak and perfect for enjoying with or without food. Our tasting began by sampling 2011 wines directly from the tank. Chardonnay after Chardonnay we were overly impressed with the purity of fruit and clean style evident in all of the white wines. After completing the range of whites, Jean led us under his home and  into his cellar (the doorways were so small even Alanna had to duck!) to sample his small offering of Pinot Noir. Again, the wines displayed lovely fruit flavors and exceptional purity.

What happened next was yet another reminder of why we love dealing with small, passionate producers. Jean invited us into his home to sit around his kitchen table to taste his 2010 white wines (the Cadette Bourgonne Blanc is available in store) with his wife Catherine. This generous hospitality and willingness to open his home reminded us again that even though our producers are located around the globe, many have (and will become) close friends whom we are extremely proud of selling their wines.

Our conversation bounced back and forth between Jean’s young son’s love of fishing, to his belief that Normandy lobster (his hometown) was far superior to our Nova Scotian lobster; we challenged him lightheartedly to visit Nova Scotia so we could prove him wrong!

Our travels abroad often remind us that great wine is not a commodity sold on a supermarket shelf with fancy marketing and deep price discounts. Wine is a relationship and an experience; a culmination of tireless efforts in the vineyard and the hopeful cooperation of mother nature.  These efforts are best enjoyed among friends and in the company of great conversation and good food. We’re truly grateful of the hospitality displayed by the Montenets and we hope you’ll have a similar opportunity to enjoy a nice glass in the near future with great company.

After another quick taste of their refreshing Melon de Bourgonne, we were off to dinner, inspired and motivated to find more great wine and establish new relationships like that in which we had developed with our new friends the Montenet’s.

Cheers to another great day in Burgundy,

Matt