Nuits-Saint-Georges in the Burgundy region of France is both a town and an appellation renowned for red wines (Pinot Noir). I recently visited friends there for a night.
After arrival, it snowed about five inches. Although this melted the next day when temperatures squeaked above freezing, the wine country looked gorgeous while it lasted.
Last year I had delayed this trip to Lyon and Burgundy due to the second French covid lockdown. The ticket, rebooked for this January, was use it or lose it. Even though the country was racked by sub-freezing temperatures, the journey was colorful.
Although I’m doing another ‘dry January’ without alcohol, I decided to take two days off this abstinence—one for sharing a bottle of Prosecco with a friend in Bordeaux, and the other for an evening with friends in Burgundy. A judicious selection!
Russian/French couple Sonya and Thomas Marchand prepared our Saturday evening meal. Thomas now works in wine marketing, but was previously a chef. Sonya learned recipes from her parents while growing up in Siberia (their daughter Anna loves snow; perhaps a genetic memory of colder lands).
Thomas prepared the first two French courses, while both he and Sonya assembled the Russian main course. We all worked together to stuff pasta dumpling shells.
Soup – Pea Velouté
The following ingredients were blended until creamy: green peas, carrots, a shallot, flour, coriander, salt, garlic, almond milk, Greek yogurt, olive oil and ginger juice. Served with Canadian bacon.
We ate both the soup and escargot while drinking white wine and working together to prepare Russian dumplings (below).
Pelmeni – Russian dumplings –
Shells are made from a basic mixture of flow, sunflower oil, eggs, salt and water.
The filling includes ‘sot l’y laisse‘—which is a specific part of a turkey. These are small, round dark pieces of meat cut from near the thigh. (The words mean, ‘the fool leaves it,’ because not taking this select meat is considered folly.) Cut this meat up, then put in a food processor to grind with garlic, parsley, olive oil, paprika, salt, pepper and Burgundy’s secret ingredient: poivre de cassis, or pepper made from black currants.
Next, roll out circular shells and make half moon dumplings before crimping both ends together.
Dumpling sauce includes Greek yogurt, garlic, parsley, salt and pepper—mixed together.
After the main course, a unique cheese. This soft, pasteurized milk cheese is a renowned specialty from Nuits-Saint-Georges, and is named Fleur de Nuits St. Georges. It’s delicious.
All wines we drank were Burgundian, from Domaine Manuel Olivier—a producer Thomas works with in marketing.
We began with an old vine Aligoté to pair with the pea velouté soup. Aromas of grapefruits, white plums, green apples and flint, and in the mouth this includes silky acidity flushing the cheeks. The taste is vibrant and sharp and includes flavors of mint, tropicals and nuts.
For the escargot, we drank 2019 Hautes Côtes de Nuits Chardonnay—aged half in tank, half in barrel with 25% new oak. Salt and grapefruit aromas, and a juicy fruity mouthful with acidic zest and a hint of mandarins.
With the dumplings we drank an old vine Burgundian red—2018 Hautes Côtes de Nuits Vielles Vignes Pinot Noir. Aromas of rum, raisins, black cherries, blackberries and cloves. This is a youthful, energetic wine that kicks with the taste of dark fruit and also includes a hint of flavors of rum and oranges.
After that, two other reds for finishing the main course and for the cheese.
The 2018 Beaune Les Epenottes—a river of cassis and licorice flavors. In the mouth, a chewy wine with flavors of eucalyptus and black pepper.
Then, a 2018 Vosne Romaneé Les Damaudes. Gorgeous, earthy acidity, well structured, with tastes of plump black fruit.
SCENE & INSIDER ANGLES.
Although Burgundy’s wines are highly reputed throughout the world for quality, the region itself appears bucolic and sleepy. The culture here is very traditional. If you visit, be patient; don’t rush.
Nuits-Saint-Georges is famed for wine and the town does include museums, but it has not geared itself up for tourism in the same way as, say, the town of Sarlat in the Dordogne region of France further south. Do not expect rapidity; slow down and enjoy strolling and taking your time.
Burgundy produces excellent wines; those from renowned plots can be expensive. Yet a little effort on your part—such as asking local restaurant staff (when restaurants open again) and doing your research will lead you to lesser known appellations and producers with excellent value wines. Consider buying a copy of Terre de Vins magazine (you can use your Google Translate photo feature to instantly translate paragraphs about Burgundy in order to learn about current well valued wines).
If you drive off the main road onto lesser roads that surround vineyards in order to take photographs or to explore, have the courtesy to greet other farmers or pedestrians at least with a ‘bonjour’ and a smile. Don’t be rude or dismissive. Politeness and respect go a long way in Burgundy (and in life).
Thanks for tuning in again.