A Visit to Gérard Boulay, 2017

There is a rule that must be obeyed when calling in on a vigneron for a tasting. Well, alright, I accept there are perhaps lots of rules that should be obeyed, such as turning up on time, and remembering to pour untasted wine back in the barrel and to spit in the crachoir, and not vice versa (that never goes down well). But there is one rule which you probably take for granted, and that is this; when driving to the domaine for your appointment at the pre-arranged time, do not crash into the vigneron as he also drives there, en route for his appointment with you. It is almost guaranteed to get things off to a bad start. No amount of kindly worded tasting notes and elevated scores is going to compensate him for the need to repair his van. Or for the whiplash.

Happily for me, these were exactly the thoughts going through my mind (honest!) as I steered my hire car through the centre of Chavignol at a mature and middle-aged pace. Having just passed the Henri Bourgeois facilities, I saw a familiar and somewhat preoccupied face at the wheel of a little white van as it darted out from a side street, to be precise from the road that runs along the foot of the Cul de Beaujeu before it enters the village. It was Gérard Boulay (pictured below) of course, and realising he was rushing to his cellars to meet me I was grateful that we hadn’t collided at the junction.

Gérard Boulay

Not even a minute later we arrived, almost in convoy, at the domaine. We headed inside to Gérard’s tasting room. I was expecting a brief chat and a tasting, perhaps a few fresh tasting notes to add to this website, but in the next hour or two what I learnt – as we tasted – transformed not only my understanding of the domaine, but of Chavignol and indeed Sancerre as a whole.

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