On the train and off to Beaune. Pick up the car at Ada, une bonne addresse for a rental car in the area. I hopped into the cutest little red Fiat. Home to Bouilland! The white cliffs. The air. The cows. Becky and Russell! I crashed a White Burgundy symposium and after a class act Russell Cooked dinner and a kick ass assortment of whites, including two Batards, (Gagnard 2001 Batard and a Leflaive) I slept peacefully, dare I say almost happily. The next morning headed to the new kid in town Becky thought was an interesting story, Ray Walker. The young man was quietly cooling his heels on his first vintage, the 2009. So here's his short story. After doing winery grunt work in California in 2008, he was ready to plunge into the 2009. "I went looking for grapes. No one wanted to give me any. I found some petite sirah. My wife said, "We don't even drink petite sirah, are you sure? What do you really want to do" (already I LOVE his wife) She said, "If you really want to do this, do what you want. So where are those grapes? Santa Cruz Mountains? Come on, babe, where are they?' He blurted out, "Burgundy" She was like, that's impossible, isn't it? Isn't it? Maybe it wasn't. So he looked found out what a grape broker was called in France, a courtier (spelling?). His French was infantile so he relied heavily on Google Translate to write transcripts. He was offered no grapes. So, he packed off to Burgundy, and in person he found his man who said he probably wouldn't be able to get more than bourgogne level grapes. Ray said, fine, as long as he could work his way up to the good stuff, he was willing. "Three weeks later I got a call that the guy had some Charmes-Chambertin.' I asked him from which vineyard, Mazoyeres or..Charmes? The broker was amazed that an American could be up on his vineyards, and didn't have the answer. Turns out the grapes were from Charmes on the border of Chambertin. Then he said, interested in some Charmbertin as well?' "Yes, please!" (by the way; price on Chambertin? 3x more than prime California cab costs.) And then, as a bonus, he gathered a little bit of 1er Cru Morey as well. Ray had no idea he was going to be working with great terroir, for the first time. He proceeded thing on trust--trust that he was going to get the grapes he signed on for and not some fruit from the wrong side of N74 (which is now called D974, which seems heretical to me.) He plunged into a very difficult vintage of low acid and high pH. He wasn't going to buy equipment, after all, he had a newborn and he had no job. He just figured it would work out. Renting and borrowing; two tried and true avenues. I want to be 29 again, not that I want to make wine, but I want to just move. Pick myself up and do something brave. I supposed I did something brave, or at least stupid, when I moved back to NYC to write, leaving the 'safe' (hah!) world of dance therapy behindI. Sure, I struggled (struggle) but no foreign dwelling was involved. Is it too late? But this is not about me, this is about Ray. He got on the plane three weeks before harvest with some credit cards and a visa. At that point there was no fruit or a place to stay and then it all fell into place. He stayed at a chambre d'hote looking for a place to move his family to, and ended up in the cutest little place in Nuits, in a home and tiny cuverie that belongs to the Gouge family, down the block from Diane and Jeremy. And in that cave rests his new wine. What I find amazing about Ray's story, is that he just calls people up like Dujac, they yell at him, "This isn't the little leagues!" He shows up again, he's earnest. People respond to the sweetness. Even in Burgundy which is hard-- people are opening the doors, shocked that he had the cojones to just move and vinify. "I look different from most people in Burgundy. And people around here start calling me Obama." There's much more to say about this 29 year old, but what I find inspiring about his story is that he just got up and did it. He learned French. He called up people like Rousseau and just said, hey, can I talk to you about Chambertin? And then there was this statement, "I had no intention of making a modern-style wine in Burgundy.It is humbling to be in France making wine from great terroir." After tasting through his very few barrels from his very first vintage, I can see that was not just lip. Is it beginner's luck or talent? We'll see but right now it's all very promising. His approach to winemaking is this: "I tried to stay out of its way. I went to the vineyards, found my plots. I was there on the day of harvest. I took them over to St. Aubin where I made wines, making sure I got the grapes I was supposed to get. I got a wood tank, couldn't get anymore so I ended up with some stainless. Used a little bit of sulfur, but on the Chambertin, none at all. I wanted to see what happened." He did minimal punching down, not looking for extraction. He wanted native because he didn't want to mess with any expression of the earth. And so far, so good. So how were his three wines? '09 Charmes Chambertin Very nubile and meaty, firm and a nice acidity, though perhaps a tad ripe. But that's the vintage. '09 Le Chambertin Nice stuff. Deep. A conversation with having.The Chambertin, when I tasted it was quite lovely and filled with life. Morey Saint Denis 'Les Chaffots' 1er Cru Partial whole cluster. And he's going to kill me on this one, because I can't find my tasting note. But never the less, who cares. The wines were sensible and filled with potential. "I pay a lot of money for this grapes," he said. "I dont want people to be drinking Ray Walker's wine, I want them to drink great Charmes or Chambertin."