02 August 2011
Karim Vionnet was in no state to continue drinking with us, the evening we arrived in Villié-Morgon, but he kindly made sure the kitchen would be open at a restaurant across the road from the bar called l'Atelier du Cuisinier. When asked if the place was any good he affirmed it was fine, simple, that there was a good gratin d'andouillette, which dish sure sounded morbidly interesting.
After showers and general decompression at Agnès and Jean Foillard's chambre d'hôte down the road, J, C, and I returned to l'Atelier, where we were to have a meal that, all told, could've used a bit more back-to-the-drawing-board workshopping by le Cuisinier.
But what the hell. It was probably the best restaurant in Villié-Morgon open on a Sunday night, and furthermore the wine list was straight-up magnificent, a real inspiring banner of Beaujolais:
C was patient as a saint as J and I sat trying to fathom by what logic the list was priced. Looking it over at length before eating I again had a dangerous premonitory vision of just staying in town forever and drinking myself into oblivion with glass after glass of 1,70€ Morgon. That would not be so bad at all.
At my suggestion, we proceeded to order not the bottles by esteemed winemakers at fine bargains available on the list, but rather the wines of whichever names from Morgon we did not recognize or know already. (Since in any case the famous stuff is readily available in Paris.) This proved to be a noble but unrewarding decision, as, it being a Sunday, there was somewhat less available by the glass than listed on the blackboards, and what was open was a mixed bag.
Some, like Domaine Louis Claude Desvignes 2009 Morgon "Les Impenitents," sourced from an old-vine parcel of the Javernières cru that some people rate higher than Côte du Py, were dull disappointments. This one, from what was admittedly a hot vintage, suffered from a dire lack of acid and a waxen chewy tannicity that didn't suit the wine one bit. It tasted as modern as the label.
Others, like Domaine Chamonard's 2009 Morgon pictured beside it, were more successful, retaining soulful spice, grace, and crispness amid the slightly exaggerated fruit of the vintage. Chamonard is a natural estate, the late Joseph Chamonard having been among the first in the region, along with the late Marcel Lapierre, to convert to biodynamic principles. The estate is now run by Joseph's daughter, Geneviève, and her husband, Jean-Claude Chanudet, another vigneron, whose Fleurie we were to enjoy the following day at lunch.
That highlight aside, I'm left thinking it might have been wiser to just lump for a bottle of Descombes and be done with wine-questing for the evening. That learning-via-glass-pours is such a meagre experience is perhaps the only benefit to traveling in gangs that can put away bottle after bottle, as many touring wine geeks do.
My sense of experimentation unfortunately induced me to order the dish Karim had mentioned earlier, which turned out to be the even more grisly-sounding gratin d'andouillette et pied de cochon. Pig intestine sausage and pigs' feet all chopped up and served with melted cheese. I wrongly presumed that something that sounded this bizarre must be a local delicacy.
The effect was kind of like if a country bachelor, upon examining his fridge during a hangover, had decided to get creative with the leftovers of meals from two different restaurants. And like this imaginary bachelor, I finished it, while trying, mostly successfully, to think of other things.
(The pleasant terrace and the view or the cute dog of the only other table on the terrace, not pictured.)
l'Atelier du Cuisinier
17, rue Baudelaire
Tel: 04 74 62 20 76
Beaujolais Bike Trip: Le Relais des Caveaux, Villié-Morgon
Beaujolais Bike Trip: Isabelle et Bruno Perraud, Vauxrenard
Beaujolais Bike Trip: Le Coq à Juliénas, Juliénas
Beaujolais Bike Trip: Beaujolais Communiqué
The Jura Bike Trip: May 2011
A profile of Domaine Louis Claude Desvignes @ Louis/DresserSelections
A profile of Domaine Chamonard @SavioSoaresSelections
A brief 2011 tasting with Geneviève Chamonard & Jean-Claude Chanudet of Domaine Chamonard @ LeBlogd'Olif