Have you ever thought about visiting Burgundy – the “land of fine arts and life”? Whether you intend to go there as a regular tourist or on a caravan trip, this article provides some interesting ideas, especially in relation to the region’s food and wine.
The names of Burgundy and its capital, Dijon, are enough to make your mouth water just hearing those names. The “land of fine arts and life” was not officially part of France until the 18th century. Until then it had been a duchy ruled by a long line of Dukes of Burgundy. Then as now, viticulture and agriculture were a mainstay of the Burgundian economy, because when it comes to the Appellation d’origine controcircleacutee (AOC), Burgundy is at the top of all other French regions.
Large and hardy animals, Charolais cattle were first bred in Burgundy and form the basis of one of the region’s most famous dishes – Beef Bourguignon. Chickens, especially the fine specimens from the Bourg-en-Bress area, also occupy a special place in Burgundy gastronomy, with the coq au vin coming from Bourguignon.
Burgundy for gourmets – Then of course there is the mustard. Dijon mustard. To get a truly authentic Dijonnaise taste, the mustard powder is mixed with barely fermented grapes or even fresh grape juice – verjuice popularly. The flavor is immediately recognizable and runs through many Bourguinon dishes, whether beef poultry or another local product, mushrooms. Truffles, “quotles daimants noirs”, can be found in the Auxois during the winter months.
After a filling boeuf bourguinion or coq au vin, your mind can turn to dessert. There’s one ingredient that’s almost ubiquitous on Burgundy’s dessert menus and sweet trolleys, and that’s the humble blackcurrant. In the hands of the region’s restaurateurs, 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 platter that would naturally be loaded with the fine cheeses of Burgundy, such as the tender, little round goat’s bouton de coulottes (pant button), the decadently creamy Chaource, and Epoisses, “the king of cheeses.”
Caravan tours, wines and wine tasting in Burgundy
The Saocircne River, a tributary of the Rhocircne, flows through one of France’s finest wine 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 legacy of the monks who toiled behind the monastery’s grand buildings goes beyond stone and stained glass. It was the brothers who perfected the art of winemaking and created delicious cheeses such as the aforementioned Epoisses, made at Fontennay Abbey.
When you think of Burgundy wines, Pinot Noir immediately springs to mind. Gamay and to a lesser extent Aligoteacute play their part in the Reds and Roseacutes regions. It’s all about terroir here, with vineyard designations based on the region’s 400 soil types on which the grapes are grown: a practice that dates back centuries. As in many French regions, it was the holy men, the monks, who perfected the art of winemaking. Beaujoulais, made from the Gamay grape, is a Burgundy wine famous in its own right. Chardonnay dominates the white wines, including Chablis.
The terroir classification is hierarchical. Only 2% of Burgundies qualify as Grand Cru. Production is limited to 35 hectoliters (hectoliters = liters per hectare) in these Cocircte d’Or vineyards. These excellent wines are perfect for storage. Wines labeled Premier Cru are just a small step up in quality. Their production is slightly higher – 45 hectoliters. Chablis and Beaujoulais have their own names.
If you’re lucky enough to have one of your fellow travelers willing to act as a designated driver, many of Burgundy’s wine routes can be completed in one day. Commented hiking and cycling tours are also offered.
Most of the wineries along the route are open all year round – these are shops, of course, but it’s easy to forget that when you’re soaking up the beautiful landscapes and enjoying the best wines that Burgundy, if not France, has to offer. Depending on the season of your visit, you will see different winemaking processes and different stages of the grapes in the vineyards. It really is an education.
If you are in Beaune there is no excuse not to enjoy the Routes des Grands Crus. The route from Dijon to Santenay is about 80 km long. Along the way you will visit the villages of Gevrey-Chambertin, Nuits-Saint-George, Aloxe-Corton, Beaune and Pommard and see for yourself how traditions can vary from one winery to another. What they all have in common, however, is pride in the excellence of the end product.
Another popular hiking trail is the Route de Cote des Nuits. This route ends 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 enrich your trip there. If you’re someone who’s been looking for caravan tour ideas, now all you have to do is take turns as designated drivers so all adults can enjoy a fine wine tasting!