Burgundy or Bordeaux? When The Wine Questionnaire asked the “B or B” question of Daniel Johnnes, wine director for Daniel Boulud’s Dinex Group, Daniel answered, “Ask anyone in the world of wine and they will laugh at the question. BURGUNDY!!!.”
Burgundy and Its Wines tells readers, “In Burgundy it is the terroir—the peculiarly French combination of soil, subsoil and climate—that dictates reputation.”
In The Great Domaines of Burgundy Michael Broadbent explains to readers:
Compared to Bordeaux, Burgundy is far more complex: small vineyards with similar names are in the ownership of several individual producers who, in turn, more often than not own vines in more than one designated vineyard. The importance of terroir is also paramount and exemplified by the wines of the Domaine de La Romanee-Conti. For example, La Tache, produces wines of distinctly different style to Romanne- Conti, despite the two vineyards being separated by a mere footpath.
Cote D’Or (slope of gold) is the center of Burgundy, to the north and south of the small city of Beaune. It consists of a narrow strip of vineyard, located along a chalk-marl slope beginning south of Dijon and continuing for about 30 miles. The Cote D’Or is divided into two sections—the Cote de Nuits (mostly red Pinot-Noir) to the north of Beaune and the Cote de Beaune (primarily white Chardonnay) to the south of Beaune extending to the world-class white wine village of Puligny-Montrachet.
We recently returned from a trip to Paris/Beaune and worked with Tara Hyland Universal Travel (firstname.lastname@example.org) in Houston, Texas, to handle our travel details.
Plan to stay three nights at L’ Hotel De Beaune as your base of operations. We have gotten to know owner Johan Bjorklund over many visits. Johan runs what is clearly Beaune’s premier hotel/bistro destination. The rooms are sizable and tastefully decorated. Bistro de l’Hotel is traditional French, warm and comfortable. The food is superb and, if your focus is Burgundy, the wine list almost impossible to match. You will find wines that are scarce and often impossible to find, even in Paris. By example, the wines of Chris Newman (see more on Chris and Domaine Newman here) are on Bistro’s wine menu. Chris is a good friend of Johan’s and a gentleman we had the great fortune to chat with over dinner.
The high-speed TGV from Paris to Dijon is fast and enjoyable. At Gare de Dijon, you can rent a car and make the short, easy drive south to Beaune. When you are making travel arrangements, keep in mind that most car agencies are closed between 12:15 and 2 p.m. (welcome to France). Or you can hire a Beaune-based car service to meet you at the station. This fall trip, David Verez of Bourgogne Avec Chauffeur picked us up in Paris. In the small-world category, David recognized us immediately and remembered that he had taken us on a private wine tour of the Cote D’Or several years ago. You will enjoy touring with David no matter your specific needs. L’Hotel de Beaune had made the arrangements for our initial wine tour with David, and Universal Travel made the arrangements for the Paris/Beaune service.
You will likely want to devote two days to your Cote d’Or field trip: one day to the Cote de Beaune and the other to Cote de Nuits. When touring Cote de Nuits, Au Clos Napoleon in Fixin (Fee’san) is a great place for lunch—pretty and rural, yet just minutes from the main road. David Verez originally introduced Au Clos Napoleon to us on our first wine tour with him. On your tour south in Cote de Beaune to Puligny-Montrachet (Pool’-een-yee), lunch at Hotel Le Montrachet (originally introduced to us on a Butterfield and Robinson bike tour; also highly recommended), or at Olivier LaFlaive. You can book LaFlaive’s wine tasting menu at olivier-laflaive.com. Either property works nicely for overnight stays.
To drive through the Cote de Beaune, leave L’Hotel de Beaune and take the old ring road that follows the ancient city walls of the compact city. Bypass the sign to Dijon and continue around the rotary until you are headed south to Pomard/Volnay on Route D973 Route de Pommard (scenic) or D974. Continue on D973 south through Monthelie, Auxey-Duresse, Mersault and finally into Puligny-Montrachet, where you will park in the main square for lunch at Le Montrachet. Take time to walk around this peaceful little wine village and to appreciate that you are on home base for the finest white Burgundy wine in the world.
After lunch head north to Beaune on the faster moving, yet scenic, D974. And enjoy your stay in legendary Burgundy.
A votre santé,
Debbie and Dick