Through the Grapevine of Burgundy and throughout the villages of the different cotes, wine tastings really abound. But first a little bit of history about the Burgundy region that has given its name to the world's famous wines. Everybody will allow a preference for either Bordeaux, Alsace, Loire or Rhone wines. But for some of the travelers a trip to Burgundy's wine country takes on the feel of a spiritual pilgrimage. East of the Parc du Morvan, the low hills and woodland gradually open up, and vineyards suddenly appear on all sides. They steeply bank hills stand in contrast to the region's characteristic gentle slopes. Burgundy's famous region runs south from Dijon through Beaune to Macon along what has become known as La Cote d' Or ( It does not mean gold but is just an abbreviation of orient or east). Here you can go vineyard to vineyard tasting the various samples ( the powerful tannic young reds and the mellower older ones). The Cote d'Or is a true golden slope for wine lovers, branching out over the country side in four great vineyard- cotes southern Burgundy. The northernmost, the Cotes de nuits is the land of unparaleled Grand Crus reds from the Pinot Noir grape. The cote de Beaune just to the south is known for both full-bodied reds & some of the best dry whites in the world. Even going farther south is the Cote Chalonnaise, Although not as famous, it produces fairly great Chardonnays almost as rich as its northern neighbors. Finally, the Cote Maconnaise, the largest of the four cotes, brings its own quality whites to the market. There are hundreds of vintners in this particular region , many of them producing top wines from surprisingly small parcels of land. The 50 miles ( 74-km) Route des Grands Crus ranges from Dijon to Beaune and Santenay. You can always extend this route southward by the Route Touristique des Grand Vins which travels some sixty miles (98km) in and around Chalon-sur-Saone. Coming from the north, you can tour the areas around Auxerre and Chablis on the Route des vignobles de L'Yonne you must learn how to tell a Meursault from a Puligny-Montrachet by signing up with one of the English language wine classes offered at the Ecole des Vins de Bourgogne in Beaune.
Le Clos de Vougeot, 10 miles ( 16 km) south of Dijon. The reason to go to Vougeot is to see its Grange Viticole ( Wine-making barn) surrounded by its famous vineyard- a very symbolic spot for all Burgundy aficionados. The Chateau du Clos de Vougeot was constructed in the 12th- century by Cistercian monks from neighboring Citeaux- who were in need for mass and also wanted to make a diplomatic offering - and completed during the Renaissance. It is best known as the seat of Burgundy's elite company of wine lovers, the Confrerie des Chevaliers du Tastevin, who gather in November at the start of an annual three day festival. You can visit the Chateau's cellars, and ogle the huge 13th- century grape presses, marvels of Medieval engineering. http://www.tastevin-borgogne.com
You can also visit near Clos de Vougeot at St-Nicolas-les-Citaux the Abbaye de Citaux, where the austere Cistercian order was founded in 1098 by Robert de Molesmes. This abbaye has housed monks for more than 900 years. Guided tours are available.
Chateau de Gilly is just 2 miles from Vougeot and is a very popular place for its own good and a conference center onsite does not make it any easier if you stay there. Call in advance and make sure that it is not booked. Formerly an abbey and a government-run avant-garde theater, the chateau does show some glorious vestiges worthy of its Relais & Chateaux parentage. The restaurant's menu includes pastries made with Citeaux's famous handmade cheese and with a pain d'epices ( gingerbread) crust .http://www.chateau-gilly.com
Nuit-St-Georges, 13 miles ( 21km) from south of Dijon and 3 miles (5 km) south of Clos de Vougeot. Albizzia is where a friend of mine stayed when she went to France to tour the Burgundy wine region. It is a very charming Chambre d'hote in the small village Quincey just outside Nuits-St-Georges. The Dufouleur family runs it, they are Burgundian wine growers sine the sixteen century. Facing the night -lit church in the village square , the B&B is an old stone farmhouse, entirely renovated, with two very cozy double-rooms. Breakfast in the summer time is served in their beautiful garden, and wine tastings ( with local cheeses) are held year-round in the Dufouleur cellar. I really recommend this very simple, beautiful place. Grande Rue , Qunicey, 2 1/2 miles ( 4km) of south of Nuits -St-George, 21700. ( 03-80-61-13-23)
Beaune, 12 miles ( 19 km) south of Nuits-St-Georges, 25 miles (40 km) south of Dijon and 197 miles ( 315 km) southeast of Paris.
Beaune is very often considered the wine capital of Burgundy because it is at the heart of the region's vineyards, with the Cotes de Nuits to the north and Cotes de Baune to the south. Every year in late November, Les Trois Golrieuses a three day wine auction and celebration ( Fete ), at the hospice de Beaune brings in the connoisseurs and all the curious from France & abroad. Beaune remains one of France's most attractive provincial towns, teeming with art above ground and wine barrels down below. Some of the region's finest vineyards are owned by the Hospices fo Beaune known to almost everybody as the Hotel Dieu founded in 1443 as a hospital to provide care for men who had fought in the hundred years war. A visit to the hospices across from the tourist office s one of the main highlights of your stay in Beaune. Its tiled roofs and Flemish architecture have become an icon of Burgundy, and i will say that the same glowing colors and intricate patterns are seen throughout the region. http://www.hospices-de-beaune.com. Also a series of tapestries relating the life of the Virgin hangs in Beaune's main church, the 12th-century Collegial Notre-Dame, just off Avenue de la Republique. If you go there make a stop to visit Le Marche aux vins you can taste a mind-spinning array of regional wines in the atmospheric setting of barrel-strewn cellars and vaulted passages. There is no limit on how much you drink and the range goes from younf Beuujolais to famous old Burgundies.Other Beaune tastings houses include Cordelier on the rue de L'Hotel - Dieu and the Caves Patriach on the rue du College. You can always sign up for a wine class offered by the Ecole des Vins de Bourgognes. They offer several choices, ranging from a two- hour intro to a full weekend jammed with trips to vineyards and cellars in Macon & Chablis. 6 Rue du 16eme chasseur. http://www.bivb.com B.I.V.B ( Bureau interprofessionel des Vins de Bourgogne) Office interprofessional of wines from Burgundy.
Through the grapewine some places we have tasted some of the best wines are Caveau Napoleon, 12 rue Noisot in Fixin, they specialize in Cotes de Nuit Villages and a Fixin premier cru. South in the celebrated village of Vougeot, you will come upon the Grande Cave which offers a trip through the cellars of the old castle of Vougeot. Most vineyards are seperated into patches and are called" clos"- a word associated with Burgundian history. The term " clos" ( an ancient word for climate) may derive from the name given these climates by the monks. The monks tasted the wines and analized them and recorded the nuances of different plots of land. Very detailed maps were drawn and they indicated the temperatures and miniclimates of the plots.
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