Burgundy produces arguably the the most characterful wines in the world. For those who don’t know, Burgundy is famous primarily for Pinot Noir and for Chardonnay, but also is known for Gamay (which makes Nouveau Boujoulais). The region is divided into five major areas: Côte d’Or (divided into Côte de Beaune and Côte de Nuits), Chablis, Côte Chalonnaise, the Maconnais and Beaujolais. My focus on this part of the trip was the Côte d’Or.
I drove the Route des Grand Vins in search of a bottle of Burgundian pinot noir for the cellar. In Cote de Nuits, the primary stop was in Gevrey-Chambertin. The pinot noir wines of this area are viewed as being feminine in style, while those from Pommard as being very masculine in style. In Gevrey-Chambertin, I visited several small producers, in particular Gerard Quivy and Philippe Leclerc. I particularly enjoyed the wines from Philippe Leclerc. I was able to enjoy the 2003 and 2005 vintage of the Premier Cru les Cazetiers, and the 2003 vintage of the Premier Cru la Combe aux Moines. The 2003 les Cazetiers came from a very hot year making a wine with exceptionally ripe fruit flavours. The 2005 les Cazetiers was not yet ready for drinking, but amazingly had the same flavour characteristics, which Leclerc attributes to the soil / terroir of the vineyard plot used for this wine. The la Combe aux Moines had a leather and cherry nose. It had good black fruit flavour and medium tannins. The finish was very long. I’d say this wine needs 2-3 years more aging before drinking to smooth out the tannins a bit.
Through the Cote de Beaune, most visits were to some wine shops that offered several wines from the region for tasting. To walk into these shops and see the famous names, such as Montrachet (pronounced Mon-ra-chay), Pommard, Mersault, surrounding you is truly inspiring and humbling. The prices for many of the wines from this region are also humbling. The most expensive wine I saw was a 1999 Montrachet Grand Cru for 205 euros (It’s in the picture on the right).
After a hard day of tasting wine, you top it off with a great meal, and of course, wine to go with it. Across the street from the Hospices de Beaune Hotel-Dieu is the Restaurant Dame Tartine. This is a typical small, but high quality restaurant that you find in France. At all tables, you see people taking their time, enjoying an appetizer, main course, and dessert. Meals are not meant as fast food here.
For a bit of history, the Hospices de Beaune Hotel-Dieu in the centre of Beaune was a hospital built in the Middle Ages for the poor by Nicolas Rolin, Chancellor of Philippe-le-Bon, Duke of Burgundy. The hospice was also given it’s own vineyard to produce wines which are sold yearly. The 2008 auction took place Sunday November 16, 2008 in Beaune’s covered market. 544 barrels were to be sold of which 450 barrels are of red wine and 94 barrels of white wine. For more information about this yearly wine auction visit this link. Across the street from the Hospices is the Marche aux Vins, which provides underground wine tasting tours through their cellars.