Have you considered visitng Burgundy – the "Land Of Fine Art and Living”? Whether you hope to go there as a regular tourist or whilst touring by caravan, this article has some interesting ideas, especially when it comes to the food and wine of the region.
The names Burgundy, and its capital Dijon are enough to make the mouth water just by hearing these names mentioned. The "Land Of Fine Art and Living” was not officially part of France until the eighteenth century. Until then it had been a Duchy under the rule a long line of dukes of Burgundy. Then, as now, wine making and agriculture was a mainstay of the Burgundy economy. Indeed, when it comes to appellations d’origine controcircleacutee (AOC) designations Burgundy tops all other French regions.
Charolais cattle, large and hardy beasts were first reared in Burgundy and provide the basis for one of the region’s most famous dishes – beef bourguinion. Chickens too, especially the fine specimens found in the Bourg-en-Bress area have a special place in the gastronomy of Burgundy with coq au vin having bourguinion origins.
Burgundy For Foodies-Then, of course, there’s the mustard. Dijon mustard. To get a truly authentic Dijonnaise flavour, the mustard powder is mixed with barely fermented grapes, or even fresh grape juice – verjus in the vernacular. The flavour is instantly recognisable and runs through many Bourguinon dishes be they of meat poultry or yet another of the region’s produce, mushrooms. Truffles, "les daimants noirs,” can be found in the Auxois area during the Winter months.
After a satisfying boeuf bourguinion or coq au vin your thoughts may turn to dessert. There is one ingredient that’s almost ubiquitous on the dessert menus and sweet trolleys of Burgundy and that the humble blackcurrant. In the hands of the gastronomes of the region this berry becomes anything but humble. Its liqueur, cassis, is used in coulis, sorbets, mousses, sauces and the fruit itself in jams. Preserved in chutney the berries liven up a cheese board that would, naturally be laden with the fine cheeses Burgundy produces such as the delicate, small round goat’s cheese bouton de coulottes (trouser button), decadently creamy chaource and Epoisses, "The king of cheeses.”
Caravan Touring, Wines And Wine Tasting in Burgundy
The Saocircne river, a tributary of the Rhocircne runs through this, one of France’s premier wine making regions. Burgundy’s rich monastic heritage is evident in the beautiful Cistercian abbeys of Citeaux, Cluny and the incredible Fontennay Abbey – a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The inheritance of the monks who toiled behind the monasteries grand edifices goes beyond stone and stained glass. It was the brothers, who perfected the art of wine making alongside making delicious cheeses such as the aforementioned Epoisses which is produced at Fontennay Abbey.
When one thinks of Burgundy’s wines pinot noir instantly comes to mind. Gamay and to a lesser extent aligoteacute play their part in the regions reds and roseacutes. It’s all about terroir here with vineyard designations based upon which of the regions 400 types of soil its grapes are grown: a practice that is centuries old.. As in numerous French regions it was the holy men, the monks, that perfected the art of the vigneron. Beaujoulais, made from the gamay grape is a wine of Burgundy, famous in its own right. As for whites, chardonnay dominates with Chablis among them.
The terroir classification system is hierarchical. Only 2% of Burgundy’s qualifying as grand cru. Production is limited to 35 hectolitres (hectolitres = litres per hectare) in these Cocircte d’Or vineyards. These excellent wines are perfect for cellaring. Just a baby step down in quality are wines defined as premier cru. Their production is slightly higher – 45 hectolitre. Chablis and beaujoulais have their own designations.
If you are lucky enough that one of your party is willing to act as designated driver, many of Burgundy’s wine routes can be completed in a day. However, there are also commentated walking and bicycle tours available.
Most of the wineries along the route are open year round – these are businesses of course but that’s easily forgotten when soaking up the beautiful landscapes and enjoying the finest wines Burgundy, if not France, has to offer. Depending on the time of year of your visit you will see different processes involved in wine making and different stages of the grapes in the vineyards. It really is an education.
Should you be staying in Beaune, then there’s no excuse not to enjoy the Routes des Grands Crus. The Dijon to Santenay route is around 80km in length. En route you will take in the villages of Gevrey-Chambertin, Nuits-Saint-George, Aloxe-Corton, Beaune, and Pommard and see for yourself how different traditions can be from one winery to another. Common to all however, is pride in the excellence of the finished product.
Another popular trail is the Route de Cote des Nuits. This route finishes at Nuits-Saint-George but not before stops at Fixin, Gevrey-Chambertin, Morey-Saint-Denis, Chambolle-Musigny, Vougeot and Vosne-Romanee.
We hope you have a wonderful time when you visit Burgundy and that you will use some of our information to help add to the flavour of your trip there. If you are someone who was looking for caravan touring ideas, all you need now is to take turns as designated drivers, so all of the adults can enjoy some fine wine tasting!