Sunday, August 8, 2010

Givry, Côte Chalonnaise

One day last fall, cousin Jean Marc suggested that Shirley and I go see the house that his daughter Anne-Emmanuelle's and her partner Nicolas had recently purchased in Moroges, a small commune in the Côte Chalonnaise region of Burgundy France.

Moroges is about 350 km straight north of Sablet past Lyon off the A-6 autoroute. After checking the map, we decided that we would go and stop on the way in Tain-L'Hermitage for lunch and visit the Valrhona chocolate factory and déguster - taste wine, at M. Chapoutier (see previous post).

Both Anne-Emmanuelle and Nicolas are musicians, she has an outstanding voice and gives concerts and performs in operas around the country and he teaches wind instruments at the music conservatory in nearby Chalon-sur-Saône, the town from which the Côte Chalonnaise derives its name.

Since the next day was a jour férié - a national holiday in France, cousin Jean Marc and wife Christine would leave after work and drive up from their home near Montpellier so they could be there as well. We arrived about the time for aperitifs and then sat down for a wonderful dinner prepared by Anne-Emmanuelle.

We woke up the next morning to find lots of sunshine and blue sky, most welcomed after the rain and gray of the previous day. We took a look around and could see that with the work they have planned, the old house and land around the house will be totally charming.

The house is in the heart of Moroges and the property includes a large area for a future garden and a second house which they plan to renovate and refurbish in the future for guests.

Cousin Anne-Emmanuelle and wife Shirley standing in front of the entrance to the old house.

As it was November 11, it was Armistice Day in France, the day which commemorates the armistice signed between the Allies of World War I and Germany at Compiègne, France, for the cessation of hostilities on the Western Front, which took effect at eleven o'clock in the morning—the "eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month" of 1918

Like most towns in France, Moroges has a memorial with the names of the local citizens who sacrificed their lives for France during World War I and II. The names for World War I far outnumber the names for World War II on these memorials as France suffered an estimated 1,397,800 casualties in World War I and 217,000 in World War II.

On this day, the memorial was festooned with flags in honor of Armistice Day.

The pretty church in Moroges.

After walking around Moroges, we headed off to Givry to déguster - taste wine. The Côte Chalonnaise has five village-level AOCs. They are, from north to south: Bouzeron, the only village AOC for Aligoté still wine; Rully, which is known for its chardonnay as well as being a center for crémant sparkling wine production; Mercurey, which is the largest volume producer of the region, its production being nearly all pinot noir; Givry, which produces mostly pinot noir; and Montagny which produces only chardonnay.

The village of Givry is the smallest of the village appellations in the Côte Chalonnaise. The pinot noirs are noted for their structure and ability to age well. The chardonnays of the region are noted for their characteristic licorice notes in the bouquet and slight spicy-butteriness. The pinot noirs of Givry were reportedly the favorite wines of King Henry IV.

The landscape of the region is more agriculture than other parts of Burgundy with vineyards alternating between pastures dotted with Charolais cattle and orchards on the soft rolling hills of the area. The soil is predominately limestone mixed with sand and clay and the occasional iron deposit.

The diversity in slopes and soils creates a myriad of microclimates that influence the quality of the wine from the Côte Chalonnaise, even among vineyards labeled as premier cru.

Anne-Emmanuelle had done some research about the wineries in the area and suggested we head first to Jambles, a small hamlet located southwest of the town of Givry to taste at Domaine Michel Sarrazin et Fils.

The family-owned domaine is spread over 35 hectares in various village appellations primarily within the Côte Chalonnaise. All production of wine takes place in the caves - winery, located in Jambles.

Wife Shirley standing in the courtyard outside of Domaine Michel Sarrazin et fils winery.

Some of the rolling hill vineyards of the Givry village appellation in the Côte Chalonnaise.

More hillside vineyards of the Givry village appellation in the Côte Chalonnaise.

After tasting the wines on offer at Domaine Michel Sarrazin et fils and buying a case of pinot noir to take with us, we headed for Clos Salomon in Givry to taste their wine. The name Clos Salomon comes from the Salomon family who has owned the winery for more than 300 years.

Clos Salomon makes their wine without fining or filtering, a process some wineries use to clarify and stabilize wine by removing insoluble and suspended materials that may cause a wine to become cloudy, form unwanted sediment deposits or tartaric crystals. This is done before bottling.

Clos Salomon makes pinot noir from the vineyards which surround the winery. Clos Salomon also makes chardonnary from a small parcel in Givry and from vineyards in Montagny. In total, Clos Salomon is spread over 9.62 hectares.

The vineyard around the Clos Salomon cave - winery and small La Grande Berge vineyard in Givry, are classified as premier crus and neither insectisides or herbisides are used on the vines.

By the time we finished tasting and buying wine at Clos Salomon, it was time for lunch. Our charming hostess at Clos Salomon recommended La Billebaude in the heart of Givry, as a good option for déjeuner - lunch, on a holiday.

The war memorial with its flags in picturesque Givry.

The town hall housed inside the monumental gatehouse dating from 1771.

Another view of the Givry gatehouse.

La Billebaude Auberge et Bar à Bière in Givry.

I chose very traditional dishes from Burgundy. I started with Les 8 Escargots de Bourgogne Traditionnels, plump escargots with an aromatic sauce of garlic and parsley.

For my plat - main course, I chose Oeufs en Meurrette, poached eggs in a red wine sauce. One of the most wonderful dishes I have ever tasted.

To finish, I chose Soupe au Chocolat et Mouillettes de Pain d'Épices, chocolate soup with spiced bread.

I walked out of La Billebaude a very content man.

I look forward to returning to see Anne-Emmanuelle and Nicolas and tasting more wine from the Côte Chalonnaise.


  1. Oeufs en Meurette is one of my alltime favorite dishes - I think I'll have to go to Givry, too!

  2. I have heard about Oeufs en Meurette for a long time but had never seen them on a menu until that day in Givry. I would love to offer them on our menu at Bistro Des Copains if we ever do lunch.

  3. In winter oeufs en meurette are often on evening menus as a starter - and they are easy to do, too.