maharajah of the road

Day 2

Maharajah of the road

Muscle cars


Day 2

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From Saulieu to Megeve

Burgundy, French region made up of the four districts situated in the mid-eastern part of France.

Burgundy is privy to a long history; its gastronomy and its wines are legendary throughout the world. With very distinct wineries, varying names, “climates” and domains 204 million bottles of wines were on the market in 2007. Export represents 54% of total sales of which 16% are to the United States.

Monday 13th April 2009

All times indicate France Standard Time


After a lovely night at Bernard Loiseau, one of France’s grandest hotels particularly well known for its food, we are ready to discover the French landscape. Before our departure we hold an impromptu photo session in front of the hotel and then it’s off to Puligny-Montrachet, central winemaker of the Burgundy region. The weather is foggy and humid though there is no cause for worry just yet. Everyone follows the head car and the spectacle offered in the rearview mirror, a line of Mustangs and Shelbys on these tiny country roads, is hypnotic. You can barely make out the last car; the convoy seems to go on forever. Just a short passage on the highway and we find our exit, a light rain starts to fall and, even more worrying, a thick fog starts to spread across the valley. It’s like a Hitchcock movie. Luckily none of the cars breaks down, just a minor incident, which is quickly remedied by the capable hands of Dan and John, the car makes it out alive and that’s what counts. It is this particular climate that has allowed the region to cultivate its rich winemaking tradition which produces unique wines, appreciated the world over. We have an appointment with one of the region’s domain guides to visit the cellars and to better understand the secrets behind the creation of this nectar. Before reaching Puligny-Montrachet, we pass by the furrowed roads lining the valley for an overview. From here we have an unobstructed view of the crops. Simply magnificent!


We join our guide in front of the chateau where our initiation into Burgundy wines will begin. The visit starts with the beginning of the process and soon we descend into the cellars. This place is magical with an occasional stream of light illuminating the hundreds of barrels, all waiting here for their contents to ripen. After the explanations and demonstrations we are allowed a tasting. Finally we can savor the fruits of our hosts’ labor. Though we are are instructed to spit out every mouthful…yes, you have to choose…drink or drive. The co-pilots have already made their choice. The tour has concluded and all of the participants receive a small souvenir, two bottles of the house wine.


Before the second leg of our journey where the Burgundy gastronomy awaits, we follow the guide and enter the mythical land, which produces the greatest wine in the world, the Romanée Conti. Situated in the Vosne Romanée community, this large harvest covers a surface of 1,8050 hectares. The grape used is the Pinot noir and its production represents only about 6,000 bottles a year. In the Japanese department store Kobe, a 2000 bottle of Romanée Conti sells for 787,500 yen, about 5,000 €. In March of 2005, six magnums of 1985 Romanée Conti were valued at 134,415 € during a New York sale, making it the most expensive wine in the world. Unfortunately we don’t get a tasting here; to taste you’d have to lighten your wallet considerably.


This discovery had, nevertheless, whetted our appetite and we headed towards “Le Montrachet” where our table was ready and waiting. Before we reach the highway, we realize the cars are hungry too and we stop quickly at the nearest gas station. Whatever will be, will be- and 10 meters from the pump Dan runs out of gas. We all push the car together and once it’s full we too can eat. “Le Montrachet” is situated in a tiny period village whose inhabitants hear the noise of the engines and come out to greet us with open arms. The lunch is excellent and before getting back behind the wheel, we take advantage of the terrace to get some sun while Bassam and the mechanics from the truck repair the cars who are having some difficulties.


We have to hurry now because our next destination is still four hours away from here and the idea of arriving at the mountain roads at night isn’t too appealing to us. At last, the highway seems made for the Mustangs and Shelbys and we reach Megeve without incidence or obstruction. Night waits for no one and soon we will arrive at the mountains. It’s not snowing yet but the immensity of the rocky landscape makes us impatient for the light of day.


We arrive in Megreve only a little later than planned. The temperature has dropped and, once again exhausted from our adventures, we can soon go to bed, under the warmth of our quilts. Tomorrow the mountains await, and a new test for the cars: snow…

Maharajah of the Road

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