Originally posted October 13, 2014.
As I write this, Dick and I are in Gevrey-Chambertin in the heart of Burgundy, staying at Les Deux Chevres—a 15th C-16th C. compound owned and restored by an English gentleman and his artistic wife. Les Deux Chevres abuts Domaine Armand Rousseau, perhaps the most respected wine producer in Gevrey-Chambertin.
The venerable village of Gevrey is surrounded by hectare after hectare of grape vines that don’t look like much, but are the stuff legends are made from. We covered much of the same territory on a bike tour through the Cote d’Or with Butterfield & Robinson four or five years ago when we were just beginning to learn about the history and importance of terroir.
Home to nine Grand Cru vineyards, Gevrey-Chambertin produces some of the world’s most prestigious wines. The Grand Cru wines, of course, attract the most attention, but the village’s standard appellation wines are also highly regarded. These full-bodied wines have a specific intensity, color and flavor, along with an impressive longevity. Well-made examples can develop in the bottle for decades.
Grazing on the hillsides throughout Burgundy are the renowned white Charolais cattle. Charolais, one of the oldest beef cattle breeds in the world, originated in the Charolles and Nieve sections of France. Registration books go back to the 1500s, although their origins as draught animals are thought to go back to the 9th C.
Charolais excel in converting grass into lean beef, which is perfectly marbled and meltingly tender. As someone explained to us, its exceptional flavor is juicy and buttery without being fatty. Charolais beef was among the first French foods to earn the coveted French Label Rouge—a certification for top-quality meat and poultry. Taste must stand out; but as important, method of production must be strictly followed. Charolais must be range-raised for up to 10 months and free of growth hormones and anabolic steroids.
The real treat is that Charolais beef makes utterly delicious hamburgers. While staying in Gevrey-Chambertin, we drove to Fixin for lunch at Au Clos Napoleon. There we had hand-chopped Charolais beef burgers on what was more like a pate a choux than a bun—eggy and ethereal. Frites? Mais oui, along with a delicious smear of “catsup” cassis across our plates.