I had recently watched a rerun of Keith Floyd on T.V. sailing up the canals in Burgundy France cooking French food and of course with Keith sampling French wines on route. It seemed an idyllic way of spending some time with friends whilst sampling good food and wine.
Well for the last twenty five years I have gone for a week, with three friends on a fishing and golfing holiday, so this year I suggested that we should hire a long boat in France and sail the canals. As we are all restaurateurs or hoteliers it appealed to all of us.
So we duly flew to France and landed at Orly airport, hired a car and drove to Vermentan deep in the heart of Burgundy and boarded our boat.
Apparently for a long boat it was luxury. Four cabins, good size kitchen and lounge. We were all set or so we thought.
One of our party Roger had, had considerable experience with long boats as he had owned one for a number of years. He decided unamimously that he should be captain. As myself and my two friends, James and Richard could hardly see the end of the boat, we didn't argue.
As we sailed out of the marina and under the low bridge we lost our funnel. Even more embarrassing as we had assured our boating company how experienced we all were. Our captain however would not relinquish command.
What I didn't realise was how many locks are on the canal du Nivernais. There seemed to be a lock every five hundred yards and our captain, now referred to as captain Bligh, certainly did not spare the horses or in this case us.
However in the evenings there was some respite and we would find a restaurant often with stunning views overlooking a Chateau or picturesque valley. The weather was hot and we ate outside every night. It was during this time that I was educated into having lighter French red wines chilled.
It was in one of these restaurants we had the opportunity to order a Grand Cru Chablis that was outstanding. However we had it in the latter part of the evening and when we sailed in the morning at 7.00 a.m. sharp, (Captain Bligh liked to maximize the distance we travelled during the day) no one could remember from which of the five grand cru vineyards the wine came from.
On the way back though we went to the same restaurant and ordered the same Chablis which was Grand Cru Chablis Blanchot made by top producer Pierre Marcelet.
When I got back to the UK I had the opportunity of buying a small parcel of this wine at a reasonable price which I have passed on to my customers.
The Grand Crus are the biggest, richest and most complex of all Chablis. Blanchot has a floral aroma and is the most delicate of the Grand Crus. Refreshing and elegant on the palate with intensive aromas of nuts, flowers and minerals a creamy texture combined with a lingering finish.
This is a wine for special occasions and if you are a Chablis lover, when you taste a Grand Cru against Petit or Chablis Premier Cru you realise the huge difference. It must have been the five Grand Chablis Blanchot, Bougros, Les Clos, Grenouilles, Les Preuses, Valmur and Vaudesir all located on one hill overlooking the town of Chablis itself that made Chablis famous.
So when you are next at The Mussel & Crab treat yourself to a bottle at £51.00, where you will think that you have died and gone to heaven.