A Wine Lover’s Visit to Burgundy, France
A writer spends three days exploring the best food and drink in France’s famous wine region.
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Dcrossing Burgundy for the first time, I can’t help feeling a bit intimidated. Although I studied the region for months during my wine certification courses and dreamed of visiting one day, it’s a different story when you’re surrounded by both the precious Burgundy grapes and the experts who know more than a thing or two about some of the world’s wines. best wines and terroir.
So, for the next three days, I swear to become a sponge, soaking up all the knowledge (and wine) I can of the famous French wine region and my traveling companion, who, luckily, is a sommelier. And I would have fun doing it because wine is to be tasted after all.
A recording at The Relais Bernard Loiseau—a five star stunner it feels more like a famous institution than a hotel in France – serves as a gateway to the famous wine regions of Burgundy. The 33 rooms Relais & Châteaux property is located between Chablis and Beaune in a small town called Saulieu, who often served as a stopping point for travelers by car from Paris to the south of France before the construction of the main motorways. Prince Rainier, Orson Welles, Edith Piaf, Charlie Chaplin and Salvador Dali are among the guests who have passed through its doors.
Book now: The Relais Bernard Loiseau
Today, the property’s namesake, Loiseau, evokes memories for many in France due to its former owner, the late Bernard Loiseau. The chef’s animated face has appeared on televisions across the country during his cooking segments, and he has been praised for revolutionizing French cooking techniques by cooking each ingredient separately to bring out its natural, robust flavor. His impact was so great, he even served as an inspiration for the character Chef Auguste Gusteau in the Disney movie Ratatouille.
Sadly, Loiseau committed suicide in 2003 after rumors that he would lose his third Michelin star, but his family steadfastly continued his legacy, led by his wife Dominique. The hotelier is a biochemist and journalist by trade who has also written a number of books and tends to the property’s gardens. Meeting her for the first time is like watching an unassuming force force its way through every room. She is an empathetic businesswoman who commands attention and respect without having to say a word.
The Relais Bernard Loiseau houses a restaurant with two Michelin stars, The gold Coast, which still serves many of Chef Loiseau’s classic dishes, including his tender frog legs with parsley. The restaurant also has a wine cellar containing some 15,000 bottles from the region.
A wood-paneled lounge tucked away in a nook past the lobby becomes our go-to space for sipping a glass of burgundy by the fire. The property also has a four storey, 16,000 square foot spa called The Villa Loiseau des Senswhich is home to steam rooms, multiple pools, and showers that complement its luxury wellness retreat theme for travelers. The whole Bernard Loiseau brand remains a family affair, with the daughter of Dominique and Bernard Bérangère as vice-president, his son Bastien on the board of directors and his daughter Blanche within the kitchen team of La Côte d’Azur. ‘Gold.
Sniff and swirl around beautiful Beaune
Many Burgundian producers can be found in or near Beaune, a fortified town dotted with rolling vineyards and cobbled streets. The most widely grown grapes in the region are pinot noir and chardonnay, which my traveling companion and I will be swirling, sniffing and tasting for the next four days. We’re in town for Hospices de Beaune, one of the largest charity auctions in the world, which means many of our wishlist producers will be too busy for a public viewing. Still, the wine gods show mercy and we reserve an impressive range of tastings. We start to Sylvain Pataille, including 35 acres of vines in Marsannay-la-Côte, just south of Dijon, producing Pinot Noir, Pinot Beurrot, Chardonnay Blanc, Chardonnay Rosé and Aligoté Doré.
Pataille has a fierce passion for the Marsannay terroir and likes to take his time with the grapes. The vinifications are natural and with as little intervention as possible during bottling. Burgundy is often referred to as the home of Chardonnay, but Pataille was one of the first to focus on single-vineyard Aligotés, a lesser-known white grape with light floral notes that, when done right (like Pataille does), reveals a nutty and herbaceous shine. of undeniable finesse.
“The pure joy of Sylvain’s connection to the land, its culture and the people is contagious. He is the Harry Potter of Marsannay,” says Peter Wasserman of Becky Wasserman & Co., which exports Pataille as well as other small, terroir-focused estates in France. During our tasting in an underground cellar in an alley in Beaune, it was hard to break away from the sips of Marsannay rosé Fleur de Pinot and the humor of Peter Wasserman. He carries the legacy of his late mother Becky – a pivotal figure in introducing Burgundy wines to the United States and the world – with an authenticity she would surely be proud of.
A 15-minute drive takes us to our next tasting at Domaine Dujac. Along the way, we gaze at the manicured vineyards that spread out before us like children in a candy store. “Wow, we’re really here,” is pronounced often and emphatically every time.
The Domaine Dujac, managed by the Seysse family, is located in the village of Morey-Saint-Denis in Côte d’Or. The vintages are grown in Côte de Nuits and Côte de Beaune in Burgundy, the first plot dating from 1967. Dujac wines are not silent, they dance. Most wines undergo a 12-day maceration and the grapes ferment in whole bunches, giving the wines silkier tannins. The price and small production mean that none of the bottles will make it home to me, but the memory of this tasting will always remain.
A third stop deviates from the first two tours in both its production size and easier accessibility. House La Jadot is a well-known wine house in the region, with 528 acres of vineyards producing everything from Chablis to Beaujolais. My favorite of the afternoon is the 2015 Louis Jadot Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru Chardonnay, which leaves subtle hints of golden honey and minerality lingering in my mouth, instead of the robust oak notes that often distract me from the varietal.
Now that the thirst is sated, it’s time to eat. My Kitchen in downtown Beune is no stranger, but luckily tourists don’t deflate the hearty flavor of the beef bourguignon I devour. It’s the last supper in Burgundy, so it’s only fitting to order one more bottle and toast to a dream that has become a delicious reality.
>> Next: This sleepy French town is an essential pilgrimage for wine lovers
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