It is critically important to establish your tasting itinerary before you reach Burgundy. Many wineries are small family businesses. They must organize who is in the field tending to vines or bottling the Bourgogne Blanc, who is picking up Jean-Pierre from l’école for lunch and who is pouring wine for you. The French, especially the Burgundians, have not yet embraced the Internet. However, if you can’t find a producer, there’s a good chance the BIVB, the regional winegrowers’ association, will have their details. Again, this is not Napa Valley; you will often taste in the cellar or at the kitchen table. In fact, I even recommend making appointments for tastings and tours at négociant houses of Beaune.
Not only is Burgundy comfort food for wine lovers, it also serves comfort food. The food is often rustic and always heavy. After all, it takes a lot of energy to punch down all those cuvées or to stay warm pruning vines in icy wind! Of course, certain establishments serve highly refined food. Whatever the style, the food is very likely made using local and often organic ingredients. Even if you’re not cooking, the Saturday morning markets in Dijon and Beaune are great feasts for the eyes. Chagny hosts a Sunday market that is small, quaint and very bourguignon. Here are some of my favorite restaurants:
Chablis: Hostellerie des Clos
Gevrey-Chambertin: Chez Guy and Family
Nuits-Saint-Georges: La Cabotte
Beaune: Le Comptoir des Tontons, Bistrot de l’Hôtel and Bistrot du Bord de l’Eau
Montceau: Jérome Brochot
When you just want a glass or a pint, here are my top spots:
Beaune: Pickwick's Pub, Bar du Square and Route 66
Puligny-Montrachet: Le Montrachet
Chagny: La Cave à Bières
When you are not tasting, you should be touring. In Beaune, don’t miss the famous Hospices de Beaune and the wine-focused bookshop Athenaeum. You can also tour the Château du Clos de Vougeot.
Surprisingly, there is more to Burgundy than wine. You can’t look right or left without seeing a hiking or biking route. Climb the Parcours Batier from Gevrey-Chambertin to Chambolle-Musigny after lunch at Chez Guy and Family. Bike the Route des Grand Crus from Maranges to Puligny-Montrachet then quench your thirst at Le Montrachet’s wine bar.
In Dijon, learn about making mustard at the Boutique Maille. Remember: always make a reservation in Burgundy! In the Mâconnais, a visit to the restored Cluny Abbey is a must. In Beaune, antique shops abound. Kids love riding the merry-go-round on Place Carnot and boating at the Parc de la Bouzaise.
Burgundy offers many pleasures and many comforts for everyone. The landscape, the wines, the food, the people and the pace of life are all irresistable. Pardon me, I must go book my next flight on Air France.