My Travel Blog

The Holy Grail of Wine and Tastings Galore!

After the barrel factory our next stop was Edmond Fallot’s mustard factory.  Unlike the cooperage everything was automated.  There wasn’t much to see, but the smell made up for the lack of excitement.  We were separated from the factory by a glass wall, and yet our eyes would not stop tearing.  The few workers they have must be super human as they spend their day in an almost toxic atmosphere without any protection.  After the tour we were taken to a tasting room where we sampled over a dozen different mustards.

“An automated mustard factory.”

” Mustard tasting at Edmond Fallot’s mustard factory.”

Our next stop was the Joseph Drouhin tasting room.  This was a typical commercial tasting room owned by one of the largest producers in Burgundy.  The company is still family owned and operated, and produces a fine selection of quality wines. They own over 80 plots throughout the region.  Some are as large as 20 acres while others are much much smaller.  Based on Napoleonic law an estate must be divided equally between all the children.  After many generations Burgundy has been chopped up into countless small plots. It is not uncommon to see a vineyard that is just a few rows of grapes, but oh are they valuable.  The demand for high quality Burgundian wines has far out stripped the supply.  Red wines can sell for well over a $1,000.00 per bottle while the whites can go for over $400.00.

“Tasting wine at Joseph Drouhin Wines.”

From Drouhin we drove to Monthelie winery in the village of Monthelie.  What a find.  Monthelie is one of those overlooked villages right in the heart of the very best wine region.  Our host, Paul Garaudet makes a White Burgundy, or what we would call a Chardonnay, that sells for just 17 Euro a bottle yet it is as good as some of the finest wines from the region.  Paul and his wife do all the work, and make just a few thousand bottles per year.  If it wasn’t for our friend Doug we never would have been able to taste or buy Paul’s incredible wines.

“Tasting wine at Monthelie with our host Paul Garaudet.”

“Paul’s wife does the bottling.”

After buying a couple cases of wine from Monthelie we drove a short distance to Montrachet.  For an oenophile this is the Promised Land, hallowed ground, the Holy Grail, the best of the best white wine region in the world.  Each farmer may tend just a few rows.   The entire process is incredibly inefficient.  I asked Doug why the growers couldn’t get together and care for a plot as one even though it may have twenty owners?  He said each grower has a different opinion on how a vineyard should be cared for, and what will make the best wine.  No matter what the economics it will never happen.  In fact it is not uncommon for one farmer to complain to his neighbor that his vines are too tall and having a negative impact on his vineyard.

“Lisa and I visit hallowed ground.”

“Plowing the vineyards of Montrachet the old fashion way.”

What I found so strange about the tiny region of Montrachet was that you can stand in the middle of a Grand Cru vineyard that produces $400.00 per bottle wines, and yet 150 yards further up the hill they don’t even bother to plant.  That is how selective they are in Burgundy.

-Tom Miller
Author of “The Wave” – 
a Chuck Palmer Adventure novel


About the Author:

Tom Miller graduated from the University of Southern California with a Bachelor of Science in Geology. He is a consummate adventurer with over 1,000 dives as a recreational scuba diver, and an avid sailor who has traveled 65,000 miles throughout the Pacific including the Hawaiian Islands. Miller has also cruised the canals of Europe on his canal barge and given numerous lectures on cruising the canals of Europe, as well as sailing in the South Pacific. Piloting is also an interest of Miller's, and He has completed over 1,000 hours flying everything from small Cessnas to Lear jets.