The places you travel to are very often remembered precisely because of the gustatory impressions of the superbly prepared food and wine that is characteristic of each region. It is no coincidence that Burgundy is called a gourmet paradise, where their deepest desires come true, from Burgundy oysters, mushrooms, boeuf bourguignon to such delicacies as ouefs en meurette (eggs in red wine). And, of course, wine reigns everywhere: in the glass, in the food, at lunch and dinner – playing the main violin in this orchestra of culinary feast.
In the labyrinth of vineyards
You start enjoying Burgundy on the way. The region is about three hours’ drive from Paris, and as the freeway gives way to small, scenic country roads, an unreal sense of peace envelops the traveler. From the smells that can be felt through the open windows of the car, you unmistakably understand that you are in a real rural region. The characteristic “bouquet” of a rural barn is complemented by the view of charming snow-white Charolais cows, philosophically looking at the troublemakers on four wheels.
What could be more tempting than road signs like Chambolle-Musigny, Vosne-Romanée and Volnay if you consider yourself a fan of Burgundy reds (Burgundy reds are made only from Pinot Noir grapes), or Meursault, Puligny-Montrachet and Chassagne-Montrachet. if you love “white burgundy”.
When talking about the best white wines in the region, gourmets will first list all wines with the word Montrachet in their names (most labels usually combine it with some other word), for example, Bâtard-Montrachet or Chevalier-Montrachet, but at the top of the pyramid is precisely the laconic Montrachet.
These wines are rightly considered all over the world as the standard of white wine, which is made from the Chardonnay Viograd. The main factor affecting the price of Burgundy wines is terroir – a combination of climate, soil characteristics, location of the vineyard and winemaking traditions. The vineyards Esence and Cru are located in the vicinity of the small villages of Puligny-Montrachet and Chassagne-Montrachet. As soon as you turn in one direction or the other, you find yourself in a labyrinth of vineyards. Burgundy is characterized by a large number of appeals, so if you are not a wine expert, we advise you to arm yourself with patience. But over time, as you explore Burgundy, this region will captivate you completely.
For the most advanced wine enthusiasts, visit the Beaune shop called Athenaeum de la Vigne et du Vin (5 Rue de l’Hôtel Dieu, 21200 Beaune), which boasts a huge selection of wine literature and wine regional maps. We highly recommend buying the Inside Burgundy book by Jasper Morris there and not parting with it throughout the trip. She will help you understand the names of the numerous vineyards, the range of wines and will introduce you to almost every winemaker in Burgundy. After all, here it is very difficult to understand on the spot which vineyard belongs to whom, since the borders of the possessions are sometimes indicated only by sticks of different colors installed near the plots. This means that winemakers here work almost shoulder to shoulder and together they fight both the capricious weather and diseases that threaten the most valuable vine. The most prestigious vineyards, or Grand Cru, are surrounded by ancient stone walls, and at the entrance, which looks like an arch, you can sometimes see the engraved names of the winery and vineyard. Walking along the small streets leading to the vineyards, you involuntarily mentally transfer yourself to those times when monks of various monasteries were winemakers in Burgundy. After all, Burgundy is one of the oldest regions in France.
In search of pearls
To truly enjoy this beautiful and generous French region, we recommend settling in a quiet place where you can get to know the traditions of the region better and take a break from the hectic pace of life. Such a gem in the full sense of the word is the aristocratic Château de Villette (58170 Poil, Burgundy, chateaudevillette.eu), run by Cohen and Catherine Stork. This place is located about 40 minutes from Beaune, the most important and most dynamic city in Burgundy.
In 2000, Storki bought the estate and, thanks to careful renovation, which lasted about two years, returned it to its former historical splendor. Today their possession is called one of the most guarded secrets of Burgundy. The road to it leads through a small village called Poil. And only after passing the fields, you can see the amazingly beautiful silhouette of the chateau among the trees. Rural lawns surround the imposing castle garden, which is laid out in the best traditions of the jardin à la française, recreating the aristocratic atmosphere of the 17th century. As you admire the perfectly symmetrical hedgerows at different levels of the garden and the vibrant flower beds, you will surely experience a strange déjà vu feeling, as if you were in Versailles itself. It turns out that the creators of the Château de Villette park were inspired by the works of the legendary landscape artist André Lenorte – the gardens of Versailles and Chantilly. A couple of swans slowly float along the surface of the lake, a lively choir of grasshoppers is heard in the grass, and the intoxicating scent of roses evokes thoughts of a pleasant rest in the shade of the trees with a glass of chilled Burgundy.
The chateau itself has only five rooms, but the true French charm is distinguished by the two cottages located right next to the palace. It is tempting to stay at least two weeks to enjoy this unique feeling of complete unity with the place that you want to call your second home. Imagine a small, forest-smelling cottage with a cozy fireplace, the flame of which you can watch endlessly, indulging in philosophical reflections. And in the morning to wake up from the crows of roosters, freely walking under the windows. Eat breakfast in the garden under the apple trees, reveling in the absolute sense of freedom, and discover Burgundy every day as you explore famous villages such as Puligny-Montrachet, Chassagne-Montrachet and Meursault.
A 15-minute drive from Château de Villette, there is a typical family restaurant La Petite Auberge (Le Bourg, 71190 Saint-Didier-sur-Arroux), where traditional Burgundy cuisine is served in an elegant and delicious way. The hosts Anna Cristina and Martal Bulani are extremely attentive to each of their guests, simultaneously performing the roles of cooks and waiters. Imposingly lounging right on the porch, a huge Labrador is waiting for visitors, who greets everyone, gallantly wagging his tail and seeing off with a serene sleepy look.
In the footsteps of wine lovers
What a life it would be in France if it were not for these famous rural markets! About 20 kilometers from Poil is the small town of Autun, whose central square on Saturdays becomes a real springboard for all sorts of flavors and flavors. We do not recommend having a hearty breakfast before visiting this place, as traditionally you are supposed to come here with a stomach a little gurgling from hunger. Start with a slice of freshly baked baguette, then taste the mountains of spread cheeses (we advise you to pay special attention to the incomparable Comté from the Saone Valley in the foothills of the Alps). Feel free to sniff bunches of fresh, fragrant greens and remember the seller’s advice on how to choose the right artichokes. How about a creamy chanterelle sauce for dinner? Or take a chance and try to make coq au vin for the first time in your life?
Autun prides itself not only on its gastronomic diversity, but also on its cultural values. Starting with the majestic 12th century building Cathédrale Saint-Lazare, where you can see sculptures by the mysterious master Giberti, and the prehistoric gate of the 1st century, which at one time was part of the fence of the Roman city. All this you can see by leisurely strolling after visiting the bazaar.
In the heart of the village of Puligny-Montrachet there is a small hotel built in the 17th century – La Maison d’Olivier Leflaive (Place du Monument, 21190 Puligny-Montrachet). The perfect starting point for exploring the most prestigious wine villages, enjoying true Burgundian hospitality and gourmet dining at the nearby La Table restaurant.
In Meursault, in the neighboring villages of Volnay and Pommard, silence and tranquility usually reign, but do not forget that this is where the legendary harvest feast takes place every year – as a tribute to the meticulous and laborious work thanks to which powerful and great Burgundy guilt.
And in Beaune, we advise you to rent a bike and go on a multi-hour drive through nearby and distant wine gardens and villages (www.beaune-tourism.com/blog/discovering-burgundy-bike). Driving past the vineyards, you can watch the endless efforts of the workers or simply enjoy the magnificent views of nature. And you can relax and recuperate after a long trip in a small charismatic wine bar La Dilletante (Route de Pommard, Beaune), where Lolo hosts and treats his guests to salads, meat and cheese of only local production. Beaune also hosts the world famous annual wine auction.
After Beaune, we definitely advise you to devote a few days to exploring other famous places of Burgundy: go to Dijon, the home of the famous Dijon mustard, visit Michelin-starred restaurants in Lyon and enjoy a glass of famous wine in the Chablis vineyards.
The taste of Burgundy will remain in your memory and heart for a long time. This region of France really knows how to please and pamper every lover of good food and great wines. A piece of your heart will forever remain in Burgundy, where you will want to return again and again …