We were lucky enough recently to be invited to Beaune for the harvest by Phillipe Dufouleur and his wife Anne-Marie. Robert Rusby from Hallamshire Wines organised everything and we flew to Geneva from Liverpool hired a car and arrived in just short of three hours at Les Jardins de Lois in the centre of Beaune. I had heard rumours that Phillipe had recently added a Chambres d' Hotes to his winery and had made a good job of it but I was not prepared for the splendour and comfort of the finished article.
We drove through some large double doors in the wall of an attractive property looking over the Hospices de Beaune and were immediately struck by a sense of tranquility, perhaps engendered by the lovely flowers and a glimpse of the garden down some steps. First impressions count and everything was so neat and charming. We were shown our room all of which are named after his vinyards by Phillipe and were simply gobsmacked! Clos de Perrieres is simply stunning, as befits his premier vinyard and brings a new meaning to bed and breakfast. A lounge and large bedroom are complemented by a spacious bathroom with a huge bath and if this was not enough alongside is steam room. I also took Father to his room and was equally impressed, especially by his shower that reminded me of a roman baths.
Breakfast is taken in a pleasant room and is continental. However though simple, very well done with freshly squeezed orange juice, homemade jams and lovely fresh croissants and bread. When all this is complemented by proper strong coffee I am always happy to do things the french way! One of the other joys of this property is that is built above the cellars and the winery which are literally underneath you and extend right out underneath the street. Therefore a stay can be combined with a tasting in the cellar.
We were lucky enough to have a tour of the vats first with Phillippe that contained all the 2009 harvest. The harvest unfortunately for us had been very early so we had missed the grape picking however we much enjoyed going around the vats whilst Phillipe explained his techniques of wine making and what he is trying to achieve with the 2009 vintage. He is genuinely excited about it and we can only pray that the euro drops before we have to decide how much we can afford! We then had a tasting of 2007 wines for the first time along with some stars from 2005. I was impressed with the 2007's and will look forward to tasting them again next spring at Roberts annual wine tasting and buying some. Our tasting and little holiday was then made complete and special by taking all the bottles upstairs and enjoying a prolonged lunch in the garden.
I have perhaps saved the best bit till last. The garden here is a joy, laid out over 200 years ago with tall pine trees, magnolias, a large type of ornamental lime tree, an orchard, almond and walnut trees it is over an acre in size and just a delight. Lunch was prepared by Anne-Marie, lovely melons, jambon persille, homegrown tomato salad, lovely bread and a cracking cheeseboard with Roberts favourite cheese L'ami de chambertin. All on a fantastic autumn day sat in the shade with good company, in the middle of beaune with all the bottles from the tasting with no time constraints this was for me the highlight of the trip or any trip.
We did manage eventually to leave the garden. Father opted for one of the comfortable recliners in the shade of the magnolia but I managed to drag Rose with some difficulty and Robert away to go and have a look at Phillipe's vinyards. I was keen to actually see the vinyards and their location and aspect so when I open one of Phillipe's wine I can visualise them. We started with Clos de Perrieres which was recently reclaimed and replanted and is potentially one the very top wines in Beaune. The whole vinyard is less than a hectare and Phillipe has roughly half of it. It is right at the top of the slope and I was astonished by the stoniness of the soil and wondered how they managed to cultivate it. They had obviously been very selective with their choice of grapes for the harvest and there were lots left on the vines that we tried. Wonderful sweet fruit that endorsed the excitement about the 2009 vintage. I buy Clos de Roi and Cents Vignes every year and we worked out where they were from our map and drove around for a look. Anne-Marie looks after the vines and we noticed how neatly cultivated and maintained her vines are and were lost in admiration at her hard work.
If you are thinking of going to Beaune, Les Jardins de Lois is situated on the inner ring road and the centre of Beaune is perhaps 400 metres away. There are a host of restaurants within easy walking distance at all levels as well as some very well stocked bars in this most charming of cities. Do have a look at their website which has the tariffs on it. As you may have gathered it has my whole hearted recommendation and I cannot wait to return!
Les Jardins de Loïs, Beaune
Hotel in Cumbria