Spend any time in Beaune in the Côte d’Or and you’ll soon notice that this town kind of revolves around wine. After all, I couldn’t write my previous post on the Hospices de Beaune (the famous hospital/palace of the poor) without mentioning wine. It seemed as every cobblestoned street had at least one cellar advertising dégustations – wine tastings – the atmosphere was oenophilic!
I met up with 3 other MIT alums, Emilienne ’09, Sunita ’09, and Amanda ’10. We rented bikes and headed out along la Voie des Vignes – la véloroute Beaune-Santenay. This véloroute is a 20 km bike path through the vineyards that starts at Beaune and heads all the way down to Santenay.
It looked like it was straight out of my imagination.
Km. 4.8: climb up a hill to reach Volnay. Stop for a picnic lunch (photo below is the view from where we had our picnic!)
We stopped in for a wine tasting.
At this caveau, the gentleman took us around his cave – we saw the barrels, the label machine that prints the labels on the wine bottles, and we sampled some of the regions’s specialities – the white Chardonnay and the red Pinot Noir. Do you see those old wines in the left photo, below? Those are wines made by all the people who have been making wine in this exact house for over 200 years.
Km. 8.6: bike a little while longer to reach Meursault. Stop in at another cave and sample more wines from Bourgogne.
Km. 13: head towards Puligny-Montrachet. Unfortunately we did not get all the way here because of our time restrictions. Had we kept going, we would have hit Chassagne-Montrachet at Km. 15 and finally, Santenay at Km. 20. Photo below by Amanda.
But we had trains to catch and more wines to sample, so we headed back to Beaune, where we stopped at our last cave, le Château de l’Ange Gardien. We had to wait a little for the winemaker to finish with his other customers, but once he finished, he took us on a whirlwind taste tour of Burgundy wines and others! Of course, all the wine is made from the domain’s own wines. Let’s see, we started with 3 whites, moved onto 4 reds, and then ended with the Crème de Cassis de Dijon and a Crémant de Bourgogne.
Along with the Chardonnay and the Pinot Noir, Burgundy is absolutely famed for their blackcurrant liquor. It’s delicious. It’s the best thing to make a Kir or a Kir Royale with – I finally learned the difference between the two. Kir is made with white wine, Kir Royale is made with champagne. Well, champagne can only be called champagne if it’s made in the Champagne region of France (where Reims and Epernay are). So, Burgundy’s version is called a Crémant de Bourgogne. It’s a little less sugary and a lot fruitier than typical champagne. Put the Crème de Cassis and the Crémant together and that will be the best Kir Royale you will ever taste. I promise.
In conclusion, Beaune = a wine lover’s paradise. Bring your wine appetite, but oenophile beware. The delicious Burgundy wines will entice you until you’re wondering how on earth your luggage ended up with 4 bottles of wine, a bottle of crème de Cassis de Dijon, and a bottle of Crémant de Bourgogne and how your pocketbook became a lot skinnier. Not that I’m speaking from experience or anything…! But, oh, how these wines were delicious. (photos below from Amanda)