A Burgundian Finale!

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To end my blog series, I'd like to share with you our trip to Burgandy, France...

We have come to adore Pinot Noirs, and we went to go explore their roots. This pilgrimage helped us to appreciate both European and Californian wine a bit more. I always encourage wine tourism because it's educational, breathtaking, exciting, and full-filling in so many ways.

First off, to travel there, you need to take a train from Paris to Dijon, and then another one from Dijon to Beaune, the base town for a Burgundian tour.

2nd, wine tasting here is NOT the same as in California. You can't just drive up to the wineries and expect a glamorous tasting room with a perky, welcoming wine club attendant. Keep in mind that most wineries in France are generations old, which means that they have survived because they have a loyal following with consumers, restaurants, and distributors. They don't need to please tourists who will probably only buy 1 or 2 bottles of wine. Some might view this is "stuffy" but I think it shows history and culture, so it should be appreciated for what it is.

We did a bit of research and learned how to go wine tasting in Burgundy and found 2 proper ways....

1. Jeep/Van Tour

Companies: Authentica and Chemins de Bourgogne

Both of these tour companies were amazing: provided great information, tastings, and scenic views. There are multiple tours to choose from, whether you want a meal included, cheese tasting, or a simple vineyard drive along. Do a bit of research, and you will find tours that fit your style and budget.

Some key things we learned were...
a. ALL of the grapes in Burgundy are Pinot Noir. Government-mandated.
b. Quality is marked and controlled on the label. Look for "Village" or "Premier Cru" for your best bets (these mean that the quality is a bit higher and the winemaker is involved with the process from start to finish). Amazingly, this labeling is government controlled as well, so you know what you are getting. Now, if only California regulated what "Reserve" means....
c. Each region within Burgundy are distinct. Our favorites were the "Village" qualities of Beaune and Gevrey Chambertin. Fruit forward, but not jammy, and earthy notes that are not too overwhelming. Overall, great balance.

Sweeping vineyard views
Castle among the vines
French vines. The long stem is referred to as a "baguette" and the short one is called "croissant" - Oh, Frenchies :)
Wine tasting at a family vineyard
Touring their generations-old wine cellar

Yes, GENERATIONS old. Reminds me of "Cask of the Amontillado".
Bought a bottle of "Gevrey Chambertin" for our wedding night.

2. Cellar tours, walking around Beaune

Winery: Mache Aux Vins

Stay overnight (or maybe 2-3 nights) in lovely Beaune, a little town with a wonderful wine-making past and present. Wander in and out of alleys, have snacks and house wine at random cafes, splurge and have dinner in a wine cave, and explore the ancient wine cellars masked as modern store fronts. Most are guided tours of cellars and caves, but some are self-guided. One we will highlight is Marche Aux Vins, a self-guided and self-pouring cellar tour. This "store" may not be among the vast vineyards, but we found it to be so much more...

Wandering in Beaune
Inside Marche.... looks like it could be a typical wine tasting on a long flat table, but....
... instead, you are lead downstairs into a wine cave/cellar!
Wines are labeled with descriptions. The tour is self-guided.
We are able to pour our own tastings. Very trusting of tourists. We remained surprisingly mature through this process.
Being a self-guided tour, we were able to move about at our own pace.

 Wine has taken us far and wide, shown us unique differences between people and cultures, made us open-minded about possibilities. I end my blog on this note: my journey isn't over, but I turn it over to you to take you places and experience/taste things you never knew of. Why? Because it's just good l'vin(o).


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