Picture-postcard French countryside, delicious food and exemplary wines, this tour brings together the best that Burgundy has to off er. Burgundy’s diverse landscape of rolling hills, forests and of course vineyards all criss-crossed with rivers and canals makes it one of the most beautiful regions in France. This area is rich in heritage shaped by Celts and monks from Citeaux and Cluny, and the Dukes of Burgundy have all left their mark with castles, picturesque villages and monuments which give the area its distinctive fl air. The rich café society is evidenced by the luxurious boutiques and designer shops perfect for a spot of people watching or a little indulgence. The wines themselves need no introduction – from the steely, mineral wines of Chablis to the renowned wines from the Côte d’Or, all of which are excellent companions for the local specialties. Enjoy the simple pleasures of Burgundy on this tour with great food, excellent wine and stimulating conversation.
The heritage of this area is evident in every step with a proud history. Auxerre’s cathedral is well restored and worth a visit (Cathedral St Etienne). Whereas, St Bris is a picturesque old stone-built village beneath which are extraordinary medieval cellars. They cover over 60 metres underground.
Enjoying a good meal is taken very seriously here, so much so that it’s more than a tradition. Most local towns and villages will have their specialities as well as the region having several Michelin-starred restaurants for those wanting something special. Dishes to try are the more local Bresse chicken, Charolles beef or escargots.
The two main grapes being grown are Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Chablis is derived from the most northern part where the climate produces the recognisable steely whites, and further south are the fuller and riper styles of Chardonnay. This is Pinot Noir country with 31 Grand Cru vineyards in the Côte de Nuits!
This morning we will depart from London Victoria and embark on our journey to Auxerre. After settling into our hotel we will dine this evening at a local restaurant for our first group dinner together.
After breakfast at our hotel, we will depart for our first winery visit with the Bersan family at Domaine Bersan. The Bersans are a very long-established winemaking family in St Bris, and their beautiful vaulted cellars under the centre of town date back to the 11th century. The wines of St Bris are perhaps better known by their old name, Sauvignon de St Bris, subtly different from a Sancerre Sauvignon – and a little cheaper, too. The Bersans’ top wine, however, is Chardonnay. The majority of their production is sold in bottles on the French market with only a little being exported. Next, we visit Domaine Emmanuel Dampt, one of our favourite places to stop in the whole of France. We are always warmly welcomed here, usually by Emmanuel himself, and their top three wines are their Grand and Premier Crus Chablis, and their Chablis Veilles Vines selections. We will be treated to an extensive tasting of their wines, followed by a gourmet picnic in the vineyard. In the afternoon, we will stop off in the small, but very pretty town of Chablis itself for a wander at our leisure, and then we will return to Auxerre and our hotel. This evening, we are free to explore the city independently and can share our personal restaurant recommendations with you if you wish.
Today we drive to Burgundy and make Domaine D’Ardhuy our first visit of the day. This domaine sits in their monopole vineyard, Clos des Langres, on the border of the Cotes de Nuits and Beaune, and it boasts wines from both Cotes. They have six Grand Crus, 15 Premier Crus and 14 village wines. Here, we enjoy a traditional Burgundian lunch alongside an extensive tasting. This afternoon, we visit a small family owned estate in the heart of Puligny-Montrachet, run by the charming Sylvain Bzikot. Bzikot Pere et Fils produces wines that have a natural feel and intense minerality. After an independent dinner, we return to our hotel, located just a short stroll from the town centre.
Domaine Bernard Rion is one of the best producers in the village of Vosne-Romanée and we are lucky to visit here this morning. They have Grand Crus wines from Vosne-Romanée, Clos Vougeot and Chambolle-Musigny, plus Nuits St Georges, and this domaine has been in the same family since the end of the 1800s. After, we return to Beaune in time for lunch so you can explore this stunning town and sample its local cuisine at your leisure. Later in the afternoon, we make our way to Domaine Prieur-Brunet in Santenay, which produces wines from most of the classic villages of the Côte de Beaune. After a tasting here, we will continue directly to Restaurant Le Terroir, which is owned by the Prieur-Brunet family and boasts a Michelin “bib”. Our menus here are based on local specialities, and will be accompanied by a fine selection of wines.
This morning we check out of our hotel early and begin our journey north, stopping off at Champagne Moutard, a very exciting producer in the sub-region of the Aube and it is particularly well known for its use of unusual grape varieties. A member of the revered Moutard family, who have been based in this village since the 17th century, will join us for the tasting after our visit. Our lunch will be a picnic back aboard the coach as we make our return journey to Calais and then on to London, arriving late in the evening.
Matthew Boucher has worked in the wine trade for more than 20 years, and arranges tastings for groups and companies. He is an Associate Tutor with Cambridge Wine School and holds the WSET Diploma in Wine & Spirits. Matthew is a fluent French and German speaker.