Every year on the first weekend in August the cellar doors are open in and around Couches in Southern Burgundy. This is a delightful organised event that has been repeated every year since 2001, the Bourgogne Côtes du Couchois appellation having been granted the year before.
Having tasted at some of the 24 “Portes Ouvertes” last year, we were keen to be back in Couches to repeat the experience this year and whilst the weather was not quite so kind, the wines and the warm welcome from the vignerons more than justified our return visit.
As far back as 1957 the vignerons of the Couchois aimed high and hoped to have their terroir recognised, situated as it is at the very south of the Côte de Beaune, and their efforts finally bore fruit on 6th September 2000 with the creation of an origin-specific appellation: Bourgogne Côtes du Couchois. The wines are solely red and from the Pinot Noir grape with the vines stretching over some 240 hectares in the communes of Couches, Dracy-les-Couches, Saint-Maurice-les-Couches, Saint-Sernin-du-Plain and Saint-Jean-de-Trézy.
On our amble round just a third of the cellars that were open (kids in tow or we might have done more), we were welcomed warmly without exception and enjoyed tasting not only the Côtes du Couchois appellation wines but also white and red Bourgognes, Crémant de Bourgognes, Hautes Côtes de Beaunes and Maranges. It was clear that the Côtes du Couchois wines, which typically see six months in oak, evolve over five to eight years and we bought some 2004/05/06s to take home to the UK. The 2007/08/09s will stay here in Burgundy to age.
Domaines that we particularly liked were Domaine de la Tour Bajole – extraordinary magnums of old Côtes du Couchois on sale here – and Domaine Roland Royet in Saint-Maurice-les-Couches. The wonderful Domaine Demontmerot Père & Fils in Dracy-les-Couches won it for us though with an amazing atmosphere for tasting and good 2005 Côtes du Couchois and Crémant de Bourgogne.
If you are looking for a non-pressured, laid-back tasting experience with good, reasonably-priced wines and lots of atmosphere I can’t recommend the “Ronde du Couchois” more highly. As they say round here: Bourgogne Côtes du Couchois – une reconnaissance meritée!