How to Prioritize Your Burgundy Wine Experience
Updated: Nov 6, 2019
Burgundy, France is one of the world’s most outstanding wine regions, and its vineyards are a UNESCO World Heritage site.
However, the sheer number of wineries can be overwhelming. And at more than 186 miles in size, it’s impossible to see everything all at once. A variety of different tour companies operate Burgundy wine experiences, and there are several ways to break the region down so you can maximize your experience, depending on how much time you have.
While you can stay in Burgundy wine country, we’ve used both Lyon to the South and Dijon to the North as our home base to tour this region. Both are wonderful cities worth a few days in themselves. Below, we’ll describe a few of the Burgundy wine experiences we have most enjoyed. We hope you find these suggestions helpful on your next trip!
The region has been making wine for 2000 years. Most of its wines are made from a single grape, mainly Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. A few other grape varietals are used, such as Gamay and Aligoté. Since the wines are single varietals, it’s the vintage that becomes more important. Less than two percent of the wines are the highest quality, “Grand Cru,” but we found that even what would be considered lesser wines are fantastic.
Burgundy wine experiences to try if you have only one day:
Head to the town of Beaune, in the Côte de Beaune region in the center of Burgundy. Beaune is not only quaint, it’s also the base for many of Burgundy’s wine merchants. This way, you can experience a large number of the region’s wines without visiting each individual winery.
If you’re going to take just one tour of the region that might include a couple of wineries, you may want to choose one that includes Beaune, at least for lunch. We had a great tour of Beaune and the surrounding Côte de Beaune area with sommelier Sebastian, with Authentica Tours. The tour included a visit to the wonderful Pierre Mayeul Winery, hidden in the heart of Beaune. The Côte de Beaune region is also where one would find such well known wineries as Pommard and Puligny-Montrachet.
If you have a couple of days:
Add a Burgundy wine experience in Côte de Nuits, adjacent to Côte de Beaune. Côte de Nuits is where you’ll find the Romanée-Conti Field, one of the world’s greatest wine producers and the birthplace of some of the most expensive wines. Its first vintage was in 1232. We had a fantastic tour in this region with Christopher, with Wine and Voyages.
If you have another day:
Get to Chablis/Auxerre for a great addition to your Burgundy wine experience. It took us about an hour to reach Chablis from Dijon. We had a fabulous tour of Chablis with Simon, owner of Heritour Voyage. Chablis is a type of Chardonnay, but typically unoaked, so it tastes different from other Chardonnays. The soil in Chablis is also unique, since much of it consists of ancient oyster shells, which I thought was surprising for the middle of France.
Unlike many Burgundy wines, Chablis is meant to be drunk young; it won’t keep for 20 years. Chablis gets a bad rap because there are cheaper imitators. Don’t count it out; it was one of the best wines we had in the region.
If you’re on a roll:
Squeeze in one of the less-traveled areas, such as Côte Chalonnaise or Maconnais, both in southern Burgundy. We opted to take a tour of the castles of Maconnais, including beautiful Chateau Chasselas in the village of Chasselas. We had a great time with our guide, Grace, with Tasty Lyon.
We hope you enjoyed these tips about how to tackle Burgundy. Please feel free to contact us and share your own Burgundy wine experiences!
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