Q: How many Londoners does it take to change a lightbulb?
A: If it’s snowing, all of them.
This is Burgundy Week in London, and it would be as close to Heaven as I’ll ever get without moving to Beaune if it weren’t snowing, which has shut down the railroads, delayed almost everything else, and left us with icy sidewalks and streets (we usually have snow once a decade, so we’re always unprepared, quite out of practice; as an ex-New Yorker, I usually shift quickly from arch amusement to exasperation, ending with my Tony Soprano moment: “You call this a snowstorm?”). The good news is, you can get a seat on the Underground at rush hour; the bad news is, the train will be late. The further good news for some of us is that when we arrive at our destination, there will be Burgundy. Importers, individual domains, and regional organizations are
all over town, pouring vintages old and new, and we journalists are scurrying, swirling and spitting and schmoozing—it’s like the world’s best ant farm right now, wonderful in its own odd way.
. . . And now (Friday) it’s over, snow and wines both. It rained, at last, weather the British can understand much better, back to normal. (I was told there is still snow on the ground in Burgundy, though.) Mostly, what emerges from a marathon such as this week is fleeting impressions, still being collated. Rather than generalize from a small sample, I concentrated mostly on the more affordable and accessible wines. Some of the best, nicely balanced and classic, were several 2008 Chablis from Billaud-Simon, not only the Vaillons Premier Cru, but even the Petit Chablis and simple Chablis; Bichot 2008 Chablis; several 2008s of note from Fourrey, quite tightly wound and tart, done in what used to be the traditional Chablis no-oak style, a bit austere to taste, but fine with food (I had it with lunch); Alain Geoffroy’s 2008 Petit Chablis and Chablis were also winners.
Though 2008 is edging onto store shelves even now, there are still plenty of 2007s around, and this seems to be a good time to drink them up. Geoffroy’s “Beauroy” Chablis was a stand-out, beautifully balanced, with a very pleasantly persistent finish, as was Jean-Marc Brocard’s lovely, fresh “Vaulorent” Chablis—a biodynamic wine, which must have kept him extremely busy in the difficult summer of 2007.