Burgundy - Champagne - INTRODUCTION
BURGUNDY - CHAMPAGNE: From LYON to PARIS
11 day total immersion: September 20 - September 30, 2018
Our way of traveling allows wine lovers to fully experience the greater Burgundy area and to get a good idea about Champagne making. What comes to your mind, when you hear ‘Burgundy’? First class Chardonnay and Pinot Noir; ancient history; world-renowned vineyards; Cistercian monks; 1000 year old abbeys; quaint small wine villages; the Hospice de Beaune; good cuisine. All this applies and we will explore in detail these different aspects during our tour through Burgundy and the Champagne region. We start in vibrant, cool, sophisticated Lyon, the capital of Haut Cuisine, travel through Beaujolais, and work our way up to the north - nothing else makes sense, since we all want the suspense finishing with the famous 'Grand Cru' regions - visiting the Mâconnais, the Côte Chalonnaise, traveling through the most famous white wine vineyards in the Côte de Beaune, to the world famous red wine vineyards in the Côte de Nuits, to Chablis and finally crossing into the Champagne region, and spending the last night in world's capital of bubblies - Épernay. The tour ends in Paris. We will travel through beautiful vine-ribboned countryside dotted with witnesses of the great history of the Burgundy and Champagne region.
- We will visit a total of about 15 Domaines in Beaujolais, Mâconnais, Côte Chalonnaise, Côte de Beaune, Côte de Nuits, Chablis.
- We will visit 3 very different Champagne Houses, a grower Champagne House in the Côte des Bar, the southernmost Champagne region, a bigger family run Champagne House in the Champagne capital Epernay, and a very small Champagne producer in the Vallée de la Marne region.
- We will get intimate insights into the world of Burgundy and Champagne by visiting many top rated producers, but also excellent lesser known producers where the wines have a lower price tag.
- We will take a guided tour through beautiful Lyon.
- We will visit the Abbey de Cîteaux to explore the historical origins of the famous Burgundy wines and the cru appellation.
- We will have a guided tour through the famous Hospice de Beaune, a very important place for setting the prices for a particular vintage.
- We will do a tour at the famous Château de Clos de Vougeot.
- We will visit wine merchants to learn their importance in the region.
- We will experience French hospitality and culinary art at the highest level. We have meals at Michelin starred restaurants, at wine domaines as well as at village restaurants serving typical Burgundian dishes. Believe me, even the most unassuming restaurant serves delicious food.
Burgundy is one of the world’s best-known wine areas, but perhaps one of the least understood. Burgundy is the most terroir-oriented region in France. Immense attention is paid to the area of origin, as opposed to Bordeaux, where classifications are producer-driven and awarded to individual châteaux. In Burgundy a specific vineyard or region will bear a given classification, regardless of the owner or producer. Secularization during Napoleonic times and the Napoleonic inheritance law led to a subdivision of even the most precious vineyards so that some growers hold only a row or two of vines. Clos de Vougeot for example is a vineyard of 130 acres today parceled into plots owned by 80 different owners. This led to the emergence of négociants who aggregate the produce of many growers to make a single wine.
Burgundy with its 80,000 acres under vine represents just 3% of of the French vineyard surface area. The core of the Burgundy region is divided into five appelations from north to south: Chablis, a predominantly white wine region; Côte de Nuits, predominantly red with the world-famous Grands Crus such as La Tache, Romanée Conti, Clos de Vougeot, etc; Côte de Beaune, red and white, including the world’s most expensive white wine, the Grand Cru Montrachet as well as the famous Grand Cru Charlemagne. Côte de Nuits and Côte de Beaune together form the so called ‘Côte d’Or’, where the Grand Crus are located. Côte Chalonnaise and the Mâconnais follow further south and transition into the Beaujolais. According to the French land registry Beaujolais belongs to the Burgundy region. When we talk about Burgundy here I am referring to the 5 core regions. Nearly all white Burgundy is Chardonnay with only 6% Aligoté planted. Red Burgundy is almost 100% Pinot Noir, with a small amount of Gamay. There also is 3% ‘Passetoutgrain’, which is a blend of Pinot Noir and Gamay. The Cistercian monks were instrumental in introducing winemaking in Burgundy and spreading the art of winemaking to other parts in Europe.
The Champagne region is fairly large and stretches from Chablis to the north of the city of Reims, about 100 miles east of Paris. The vineyard size is similar to Burgundy with 76,000 acres planted with vines. There are around 319 villages with about 5,000 growers who make their own Champagne and 14,000 growers who only sell grapes.
There are so many great producers with wonderful people at the helm that it is very difficult to choose which one to visit. We selected top estates of different price points, from sky-high 100 Parker point wines to budget friendly, excellent, unknown wines exported to the US for the first time.