Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Wine Region of Burgundy, France

While Jon and I feel that we are getting pretty adept at Italian wine tasting and recognizing the different regions (and subregions) where they come from, we are pretty clueless when it comes to French wine. We know of the more famous regions such as Bordeaux, Champagne, Rhone, and Burgundy, but we aren't too informed about the differences between them (or have had the pleasure of tasting them on their own territory). So, we figured we'd take a long weekend exploring Burgundy and then visiting Luxembourg.

The region of Burgundy is one of the top producing wine regions in France and is not too far of a drive from Paris, which is where we flew into. We researched different areas of the region and decided to make the small town of Beaune our base for the weekend.

A snowy morning in Beaune

A quiet street
Beaune is such a cute and small town that caters to winos and foodies. Visiting Beaune at this time of year was perfect since it wasn't crowded with tourists and it had an overall wintery and Christmas feel to it. After enjoying the falling snow on the peaceful town we headed towards our first wine tasting. The host of this winery decided to surprise us with a blind tasting. With another couple, we blindly tasted 15 different wines and we were to determine the different scents and tastes associated with each one. She really wanted us to discover which wines we liked because of our tastes and not because of a label. We had so much fun at the tasting with the other couple (they were from New Zealand, but live in Spain) that we ended up going out to lunch with them afterwards (and then by chance meeting them at another wine tasting later on in the day). We learned quite a bit at this tasting and loved our experience there.

On a walk before the tasting

Posing in front of Collegiale Notre-Dame

The back of the cathedral
Beaune at night

A selection of cheeses at dinner

The wine tasting later in the day was self guided - they gave us a tasting 'dish', a list of wines to taste and an hour to finish.  After running into the couple from the morning on the stairs of the cellar, we tasted another 12 wines at our own pace down in the caves of Beaune.  Including tasting another five wines at a small shop next door and wine with lunch and dinner, we tasted 34 wines that day... plenty!

Interesting contraptions to taste wine in...

The next morning we went to the Beaune market, which is held weekly in the center of town. This was a gourmet food lovers heaven. Fine cheeses, truffles, varieties of mushrooms, infused olive oils, balsamic vinegars, breads, and an abundance of flavored salamis closed in on you as you walked the aisles of the market. The smells lured us into many of the stalls and we found ourselves buying oils and salts made with truffles and various French cheeses. Around the corner the market continued with non-food items such as wicker baskets, clothes, and music. It was a classic French experience; a man was playing the accordion nearby, young children were saying "bonjour" to us as we passed them down the street, and men and women were carrying their wicker baskets with fresh loaves of bread hanging out of the top.

The outdoor section
Fresh vegetables

The indoor market

A variety of flavored salamis

Wicker baskets

After spending the morning in Beaune we drove 45 minutes north to the city of Dijon. The attractive capital city of Burgundy, Dijon (yes, the same city in which Dijon mustard is named after and is still locally produced) is filled with classic medieval and Renaissance buildings. Traffic is restricted in the center of the city so we found many parts of it quiet and relaxing.

We decided to follow the "Owl Trail" which is a walk through the city where you follow the owl markers on the street to lead you to your next destination. The trail took us to many important sights in the city, as well as some hidden gems that we would have otherwise missed. It took us right through the center of town where an ice skating rink had been put up and vin chaud (hot, mulled wine) was being served to keep everyone warm.

Follow the owl!

A plaza with an ice skating rink

Towers of Notre Dame

Church of Eglise St. Michel

A cup of vin chaud, vino caldo, gluhwein, mulled wine...  in all languages it is delicious!

We had such a relaxing time in Burgundy this past weekend and it ranks high out of all of the trips we have taken. It was so nice to just stroll around the towns with nothing on the agenda except drinking wine and eating delicious and hearty food. We learned a little bit more about this famous wine region and have added another country's bottles to our ever growing wine collection. We hope to be back in the future!

1 comment:

  1. This is one trip that is perfect for me! (except for the fact that I don't think I could drink as much wine!) The snowy photo of Beaune is breathtaking! It looks just like a picture postcard! Now as far as the contraptions to taste wine - very different and strange!! And I love the Beaune market! I would definitely spend some money there! The photo of the colorful wicker baskets is very cool! The "Owl Trail" markers on the streets is great! What a fantastic way to show people where to walk to find important destinations! Very different! Love it! And I absolutely love the last photo of you drinking the wine! You look so relaxed and "toasty warm" (even though I'm sure you are cold since you are wearing a heavy coat, hat and gloves.) By the way, I love your hat! It's so cute! Great blog! Great trip!