If you drank too much Pinot Noir in Pommard (trust me this is not as implausible as it may sound) and headed toward Volnay on the D973, a narrow and winding road that cuts through numerous scenic vineyards, you’ll find a converted country home in the middle of nowhere with the jolly Roger hoisted over. Given the alcohol, you might be persuaded to believe that there are pirates in this part of Burgundy, but instead what you will find is an incredible wine shop and restaurant with fantastic hospitality, well priced rustic fare and one of the greatest wine values of all of Burgundy.
We stopped at Pavillion Francois Gaunoux at the recommendation of our exuberant new-found friend Pascal, who claimed this is a must-see for any serious trip to this neck of Burgundy. Pascal had expounded the virtues of the pirate of Burgundy for two days, always asking if we had stopped in yet. We wanted to go, but It felt a bit like when someone tells you how great a movie is, than you finally go and see it, and it isn’t really that great.
By the time we pulled up, I really wasn’t expecting too much; I had worked winery tasting rooms in California and become jaded to the dog and pony shows. I halfway expected to see a French guy wearing an eye patch greeting us with the French version of ‘ahoy matey!’. Thankfully I could not have been further from the truth. A few moments later and we were seated on the terrace armed with a delicious glass of white wine and a bubbling hot plate of garlicky escargot. The gentleman working the room could not have been any nicer or truthful about the Gaunoux wines he was selling.
Soon time felt as though it had stopped; we were alone on the terrace enjoying the late morning sun feeling extremely relaxed. The pavilion made for a very welcoming oasis from a busy morning being fast talked by the slick vendors of the Beaune Saturday market who tried their very best to get us to buy a 50 pound wheel of AOP Beaufort cheese and a monstrous slab of a rather delicious local air-dried beef. It’s not that the cheese or beef wasn’t incredible, unfortunately they were, we just were at the end of our time in Burgundy and I didn’t think I could keister it back through customs; please no visuals.
The gentleman running the shop allowed us to relax in peace on the terrace, and enjoy the wines at our own pace. There were no convoluted sales pitches expounding the virtues of a particular vintage over another or overly technical boring details about brix levels and fermentation. He poured a wide range of styles and vintages and afterwards we ended up buying three Pommards to bring home to the states, a 1995, 1998 and a 2007.
Last weekend we were feeling rather nostalgic for Burgundy and wanted to relive the experience, so I prepared fresh snails in garlic butter, a shepherd’s pie made with duck confit (also known as hachis parmentier) and enjoyed a delightful tart tatin made by our friend John. You can prepare escargots like the pirate and have a great staycation OR join us next June when we are taking a group for an unparalleled three-day wine and food experience in Burgundy, and I guarantee a trip to the pirates’ pavilion will be part of that experience.
- 8 ounces unsalted butter, room temperature
- 6 garlic cloves, mashed
- 1 diced shallot
- 1 tablespoon Pastis
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons sea salt
- ¼ cup chopped parsley
- ¼ cup chopped scallions
- ¼ cup chopped fennel tops
- 2 teaspoons fresh thyme
- 24 big fat snails
- 24 snail shells
- 1 baguette served warm
- Melt two ounces of butter in a saute pan.
- Add garlic and shallots and cook for a few minutes till you can smell the fragrant garlic perfume your kitchen.
- Pour into a food processor along with everything else and puree till smooth.
- Fill each snail shell with one snail then pipe garlic butter into shells.
- Turn your broiler on as hot as it will get and cook the snails for approximately six minutes.
- Enjoy with a warmed baguette and a big glass of a great Burgundy.
Using canned snails, rinse thoroughly and pat dry.