Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Burgundy (and Champagne) Tour 2016 by ombiasy WineTours: From Lyon to Reims - Wine, Food, Culture and History

Picture: Lunch at L’Auberge du Pont de Collonges, Paul Bocuse’s Restaurant in Collonges­ au­ Mont­ d’Or near Lyon

The Burgundy (and Champagne) Tour 2016 by ombiasy WineTours took place from May 26 to June 05, 2016.

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. We explored in detail these different aspects during our tour through Burgundy and the Champagne region. We started in vibrant, cool, sophisticated Lyon, the capital of Haut Cuisine, travelled through Beaujolais, and worked our way up to the north, visiting the Beaujolais, 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 ending in Reims with its famous Gothic Cathedral.

We visited a total of 14 Domaines in Beaujolais, Mâconnais, Côte Chalonnaise, Côte de Beaune, Côte de Nuits, Chablis.

We visited 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 an internationally well-known Champagne House in Reims.

We got intimate insights into the world of Burgundy and Champagne by visiting many top rated producers, but also excellent lesser known and unknown producers.

We took a guided tour through beautiful Lyon. We visited the Fontenay Abbey to explore the historical origins of the famous Burgundy wines. We had a guided tour through the famous Hospice de Beaune, a very important place for setting the prices for a particular vintage.

We experienced French hospitality and culinary art at the highest level. We had a luncheon at the iconic Paul Bocuse restaurant at the doorsteps of Lyon and had meals at Michelin-star equal restaurant, and at village restaurants serving typical Burgundian dishes.

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 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.

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.

Burgundy (and Champagne) 2016 by ombiasy WineTours: From Lyon to Reims - Wine, Food, Culture and History

Day 0: WEDNESDAY, May 25

Most of the participants arrived a day or two days before the start of the tour.

07.00 pm Dinner at a traditional Bouchon

Those who were already in Lyon on the evening before the tour had dinner at a Bouchon.

A Bouchon serves traditional Lyonnaise cuisine. Originally, the husband would watch over the dining room and pour the wine (Beaujolais or Côtes du Rhône), while the wife cooked every day, family-style cuisine, centered on the offal and cooked meats which Lyon is famous for. There are approximately twenty officially certified traditional Bouchons. Because of difficulties to make a reservation for a group of 12 on short notice, we split up into two groups. 6 of us went to Daniel et Denise and the rest (including Annette Schiller and myself) to Chez Paul.

Day 1: THURSDAY, May 26

02.00 pm Welcome coffee at Grand Hotel des Terreaux in Lyon.

Grand Hotel des Terreaux in Lyon is a 4 star beautiful hotel in the heart of Old Lyon, the UNESCO World Heritage Site. It combines the atmosphere of an old­fashioned 19th century town house with a modern, innovative décor. It also has a beautiful indoor pool and hot tub.

03:00 Introduction to the Burgundy wine region with Georges Dos Santos.

We took a short walk across the bridge of the Sâone River to Antic Wine in the Renaissance part of old Lyon. Owner and famous Sommelier Georges Dos Santos introduced us to the Bourgogne region. We tasted 6 wines.

05:00 pm Early dinner at the Grand Café des Négociants

08.00 pm Opéra de Lyon

Iolanta (Tschaikovsksi) and Persephone (Stravinski)

11:00 pm After Opera drink

Some of us finished the day with a glass of wine at a little neighborhood bar just next to the Hotel.

DAY 2: FRIDAY, May 27

09.45 am Guided sightseeing tour of Lyon.

Lyon is France’s second largest city with around two million people, and a chic, sharp, savvy, historic, bustling, city. It was founded by the Romans in 34 BC, and has been a commercial, industrial, and banking powerhouse for the last five hundred years. In the 15th century it became Europe’s publishing center, by the mid 18 hundreds it had become Europe’s silk­weaving center, at the dawn of the 20th century it became France’s cineastic center, and today it is a sophisticated city with a dynamic cultural life, a thriving university scene, and France’s gourmet capital. The city center lies on the peninsular at the confluence of the Saône and Rhône rivers, the oldest Renaissance part of Lyon is sandwiched between the Saône River and the hillside to the west. Very special are the “Bouchon” simple, very typical Lyonnais restaurants and the “Traboules” interior passageways between houses being established during the “silk” period of Lyon.

12.30 pm Lunch at L’Auberge du Pont de Collonges, Paul Bocuse’s restaurant in Collonges­ au­ Mont­ d’Or.

Madame Bocuse welcomed us.

This restaurant is one of the holy grail of classical cooking. Since 1965 it defends its 3 Michelin stars. Paul Bocuse was a chef who pushed boundaries and is still a benchmark for technical perfection in the kitchen.

02.45 pm Departure and drive to the Beaujolais and Macon Regions.

04.00 pm Visit and tasting at Domaine Ferret in Fuissé, Poully­ Fuissé, Mâconnais.

Audrey Braccini, Winemaker and General Manager of Domaine Ferret, our host.

Situated in the heart of Fuissé, Domaine Ferret has long been a producer of top Pouilly­Fuissé wines. The estate was managed by the Ferret family from its founding in 1840 until it was purchased by Louis Jadot in 2008. Under the formidable leadership of Jeanne Ferret, who ran the house with a rod of iron for half a century, Domaine Ferret became a major force in the region. Daughter Colette joined her in 1992. Jeanne died in 1993, Colette in 2007, leaving no heirs, and after 150 years in the Ferret family the domaine was put up for sale. Domaine Ferret has played a key role in defining the quality of the region. It was the first one in Pouilly­Fuissé to begin bottling at the estate, shortly after World War II. Its long­standing focus on vinifying each parcel of vines separately has allowed for the identification of the top terroirs. Domaine Ferret’s estate vineyards are comprised of 18 hectares throughout the Pouilly­Fuissé appellation; 14 of these are located in the amphitheater of hills surrounding the town of Fuissé and 4 are near the Roche de Vergisson, in the north of the appellation. The spectrum of rocks present in Fuissé is the most diverse within the Mâconnais, and the Ferret vineyards, which are spread across the appellation's entire range of soil types, is one of its best ambassadors.

06.30 pm At Hostellerie Château de la Barge in Crêche­ sur­ Saône.

Hostellerie Château de la Barge in Crêche­ sur­ Saône is a 4 star historic hotel situated in a romantic park with an outdoor pool, and a very good beautiful restaurant.


09.30 am Visit and tasting at Domaine Georges Descombes in Vermont, Villié­-Morgon, Beaujolais.

Madame Descombes was our host.

Since 1988 Georges Descombes makes his own wine in the tiny village of Vermont, in the Morgon appellation. He is part of what could be considered Beaujolais' second­wave of natural winemakers, and he is certified “organic” by ECOCERT. His production is two­tiered, the domaine wines deriving from his own 15.5 ha of vines in the five AOCs: Morgon, Brouilly, Regnié, Chiroubles, and Beaujolais Villages, and the négoçiant wines, a separate range he makes from purchased fruit. Descombes is also the patriarch of what has in recent years become a whole winemaking clan in the hamlet of Vermont. The Descombes complex houses Damien Coquelet, Georges' step­son who produces excellent Chiroubles and Morgon, and Kevin Descombes, Georges' son who began vinifying his own Morgon and Beaujolais just a couple years ago.

12:30 pm Lunch at restaurant Le Mercurey in Mercurey.

The restaurant in this former coach stop offers classical Burgundian cuisine and wines from the region at its best. Gonnot Didier is the Chef and Owner.

02.45 pm Cellar tour and tasting at Domaine Theulot­-Juillot in Mercurey, Côte Chalonnaise.

Owner/ Winemaker Nathalie Juillot was our host.

This family domaine of 11.5 hectares was founded by Emile Juillot in the early 1900s, and was long known under the name Domaine Emile Juillot. Current owners are Nathalie Theulot, granddaughter of Emile and her husband Jean­Claude Theulot. Winewise very fittingly described the estate: “Old fashioned” burgundy producer, in the best sense of the words. Serious, age­worthy wines which show off both the unique aromatic joys of Pinot Noir and the particular character of the six premier cru sites of Mercurey that they cultivate. These are wines of the utmost integrity, not prettified in any way, because they do not need to be. Jean­Claude Theulot, Emile Juillot’s grand son­in­law, has steadily raised the renown of this estate to the top echelon of Mercurey. Fittingly, the name has been changed from “Emile Juillot” to “Theulot­Juillot” in recognition of the transformation that he has wrought.” Nathalie told us that since 2004 the state has adopted sustainable viticulture practices with the aim to eventually convert to biodynamics.

04.45 pm Guided tour of the Château de Rully and tasting of Domaine Rully Wines.

Count Raoul de Ternay was our host.

Visible from far away among the vineyards, the Château de Rully is a medieval fortress built in the 12th century. Visiting the castle took us on a journey through French history from the middle ages to today. Since its origin, the castle has been kept in the same family. The current owner Count Raoul de Ternay guided us through his home, showing the history of his ancestors. By being a private property (and not a museum) every single visit is a unique and authentic experience. The tour ended with a tasting of the Château’s wines in the medieval kitchen.

07.00 pm Introduction to the historic Cavaillé­ Coll­ Organ in the Saint Nicolas Church of Meursault by the president of the organ society of Meursault followed by a short concert.

07.45 pm At Hotel Les Charmes in Meursault, Côte de Beaune.

Hotel Les Charmes is a 3+star very charming hotel in a historic 18th century wine domaine with a pool and a beautiful garden right in the center of Meursault.

In the evening we enjoyed the quaint Burgundian wine village Meursault.

Day 4: SUNDAY, May 29

We spent the Sunday in Meursault just like the French would spend their Sundays. In Europe ­ and that includes France – on Sundays the stores are closed and this is the day to decompress, to relax, to spend time with family or friends, to go for long walks, to have a long luncheon, to enjoy doing things that the working days do not allow for.

11.00 am Cellar tour and tasting at Domaine Michel Prunier & Fille in Auxey­ Duresses, Côte de Beaune.

Michel Prunier and his wife were our hosts.

The tiny village of Auxey ­Duresses is just 2 km from Meursault and one of the lesser communes which are also located in this section of the Côte de Beaune, virtually unknown to the casual Burgundy drinker. These wines provide a very good price­quality ratio. Auxey­ Duresses sits at the juncture of the red wine terroirs of Volnay and Pommard and the white wine terroir of Meursault. The Prunier family has been making wine in Auxey­ Duresses for over four generations. The Domaine Michel Prunier however was founded by him and his wife Michèle with 5 acres of vineyards in 1968. Daughter Estelle studied viticulture and after graduating in 2002 she worked in Bordeaux and Australia to gain experience. In 2014 she came home to work with her parents. Today the domaine has 30 acres under vine and they apply organic viticulture practices. Mirroring the soil situation in the valley they produce 30 percent white and 70 percent red wine. The flagship of the domaine is the Auxey ­Duresses "Clos du Val”, a 1ière Cru. “We are very proud of this vineyard because it is a family vineyard” says Estelle Prunier.

12.15 pm Wine pairing lunch at restaurant La Cremaillere.

The restaurant is right across the street from the domaine and used to belong to the Prunier family. We had a typical Burgundian meal matched with the wines from Domaine Michel Prunier & Fille.

04.00 pm Vineyard walk in Meursault with Karoline Knoth.

Karoline has a Diploma in European Ethnology and History from the University of Würzburg and lives in Meursault with her husband who is from Meursault. She knows the town and landscape like the back of her hands. She did intensive research on the history of winemaking in Meursault and published a book (Allons en vendage) on wine making in Meursault during the 1930s. She was a perfect guide to give us intimate insights into a Burgundian wine village.

8:00 pm Dinner at Restaurant Ed.Em in Chassagne Montrachet

Ed.Em is among the top restaurants in the Bourgogne, with 1 star Michelin.

Michelin: The name is a contraction of Édouard and Émilie, who have taken over the premises of the former restaurant, Chassagne. He is a young chef with an impeccable CV (Lameloise, Marcon) who combines personality and subtlety in his tasty set menus where delicacy is never missing. She is a pastry chef and guarantees to round your meal off with a flourish. Hurry!

DAY 5: MONDAY, May 30

10.00 am Guided walk into the Puligny-Montrachet vineyards and cellar tour of Maison Olivier Leflaive in Puligny-Montrachet, Côte de Beaune.

Olivier and Patrick Leflaive along with Sommelier Charles Devarennes were our hosts.

The Leflaive family is a long­standing Burgundian “wine” family who always could call some of the best vineyards in Burgundy their own. But it was Joseph Leflaive, grandfather of Olivier, Patrick and cousin Anne­Claude (owner of Domaine Leflaive, who died very suddenly last spring) who brought the family business to a different level when he founded Domaine Leflaive.

In 1984 Oliver and Patrick left Domaine Leflaive and founded their own Maison Leflaive, a top négociant house. Maison Olivier Leflaive is continuously expanding and acquired several vineyards – among them Chevalier­Montrachet Grand Cru and Bâtard­Montrachet Grand Cru ­ that allows him to develop the “Domaine” and to build up his range of Domaine wines alongside the négoce business.

Sommelier Charles Devarennes took us into the Puligny-Montrachet vineyards and talked extensively about the terroir, the vines and the vineyard work for us to understand what is at the source of one of the worlds most beautiful white wine. I quote Olivier Leflaive “Our daily mission is to produce top quality grapes. This involves a sustainable approach to working the vines, and also supporting our partner winegrowers in cultivating their plots using an organic or biodynamic approach. We have not any organic certification as we don’t hesitate to use chemical treatment if it’s really necessary. The harvest is entirely manual and the grapes are picked with the utmost respect for the plant. Harvesting by machine is to be avoided at all costs as it damages the vines and can never match the skill and judgment of a human being.”

12.30 pm Wine pairing lunch at restaurant La Table d’Olivier Leflaive in Puligny-­Montrachet

03.30 pm Tasting at Caveau Les Grands Crus in Chassagne-­Montrachet, Côte de Beaune.

This tasting with the son-in-law of  A.F. Gros (Domaine A.F. Gros) XXX, who is a caviste, let us explore wines from the lesser known villages just behind the hills where the white Grand Cru sites are.

06.00 pm At Hotel Henry II in Beaune.

Hotel Henry II in Beaune is a 4 star hotel at the northern city gate of Beaune located within a 5 minute walk from the town center. Parts of the hotel buildings are in a historic monument with a second modern part added later.

The rest of the evening was free to discover Beaune. I used the opportunity to update my wine bar guide of Beaune and visited a number of wine bars.

At Au But du Monde we run into Lanny Lancaster, Owner of C'est Vin in Alexandria, Virginia.

At Le Bistrot du Coin Place Ziem,Owner Alex Meuriot introduced us to Belgian importer Rachid Agag from Les Vents d'Anges and Vincent Boyer of Domaine Boyer-Martenot in Meursault.

DAY 6: TUESDAY, May 31

We had a leisurely day today: no driving, we remained in Beaune, the Burgundy wine capital. While strolling through town we get a good feel for this beautiful, historic place, still today entirely surrounded by the medieval city wall.

11.00 am Guided tour of the Hospice de Beaune.

The Hospice de Beaune was founded in 1443 by Nicolas Rolin, chancellor of Burgundy, as a hospital for the poor and needy. It is still a hospital but services for patients are now provided in different buildings. The original hospital building, the Hôtel­Dieu, is one of the finest examples of French fifteenth­century architecture. The original building was used until 1971 as the hospital of Beaune and home for the elderly. Today the entire building has been converted to a museum. From the very beginning the Hospices benefitted from donations of land, money and vineyards from former patients and wealthy benefactors. The Hospices are now the owners of 135 acres of vineyards, including some of the most sought­after parcels in Burgundy. Every year on the third Sunday in November a charity wine auction (only barrels of the just harvested vintage) is organized at the Hospice which attracts bidders and wine aficionados from around the globe, and pretty much sets the price for that vintage of Burgundy wines.

12.30 pm Lunch at Brasserie le Carnot in Beaune.

This is a typical brasserie and packed every day since it is a favorite lunch spot among the locals.

02.30 pm Tour of the ancient cellars and tasting at Maison Joseph Drouhin in Beaune, Côte de Beaune.

Joseph Drouhin was only 22 when he left his native Chablis to move to Beaune to establish his wine merchant business “Maison Joseph Drouhin” in 1880. His son started to build up a ‘Domaine’ and purchased vineyards in outstanding appelations. Today the Domaine Joseph Drouhin is with 182 acres one of the largest wine producing estates in the region. It owns vineyards in all of Burgundy: Chablis (38 hectares ­ 95 acres), Côte de Nuits and Côte de Beaune, (32 hectares ­ 80 acres), Côte Chalonnaise (3 hectares ­ 7.5 acres). It is comprised of a majority of Premier and Grand Crus, planted with the two Burgundian grape varietals, pinot noir and chardonnay. It is still also one of the major négociants in Burgundy producing wines made from purchased grapes grown in different parts of Burgundy. In 1988 they invested in Oregon and established the winery Joseph Drouhin in the Willamette Valley. Today both the estates in Burgundy as well as the one in Oregon are owned and operated by the great grandchildren of Joseph Drouhin. The most ancient vaulted cellars of Beaune belong to Drouhin.

We visited the historic cellars of about 2.5 acres under the center of Beaune. These cellars once belonged to the Dukes of Burgundy and later to the Kings of France. We walked on history much older than the Kingdom of France since already the Romans built wine cellars in Beaune and we discovered bricks, paths and walls nearly 2000 years old.

04.30 pm Visit and tasting at Domaine Dublère in Savigny­ lès­ Beaune.

Owner/ Winemaker Blair Pethel was our host.

This domaine is owned by native North Carolina and longtime resident of Washington DC Blair Pethel. For 25 years he worked in Washington DC as political journalist. In 2003 he gave in to his inner callings and followed his love – Burgundy wines – to Beaune. He interned with top Burgundian winegrowers and winemakers to learn everything possible about the unique terroir and winemaking process. He eventually established his own domaine and was able to purchase parcels in top vineyard sites in the Côte de Beaune and in the Côte de Nuits, and in addition he purchases fruit from a handful of superb growers across the Côte D’Or. I quote Allen Meadows ( Issue 42, 2011): “Pethel clearly has a gifted touch because the wines are almost too good to have been made by someone with so little practical experience (he employs no consultants).”

07.45 pm Charcuterie and cheese paired with Burgundy wines at La Maison de Maurice in Beaune.

Maurice Marle was our host.

This wine bar, wine shop, restaurant, and guest house is kind of unique. The owener Maurice Marle is a character and gives the place a very special ambiance. On top of it he is a dictionary when it comes to Burgundy wines.

He guided us through a tasting explaining the terroir and character of the wines. This was lots of fun and at the same time a very educational evening.

Day 7: WEDNESDAY, June 01

09.30 am Cellar tour and tasting at Domaine Faiveley in Nuits­ Saint­ George, Côte de Nuits.

Mathilde Nicolas, Brand Ambassador, was our host.

Domaine Faiveley was established by Pierre Faiveley in 1825, and quickly became one of the top wine producers in Burgundy. After the great depression at the beginning of the 20th century, wine consumption decreased and sales fell drastically. Proprietor then was Georges Faiveley and he came up with a brilliant idea to reduce the stock of his great wines. He and friend Camille Rodier founded the now world­famous Confrérie des Chevaliers du Tastevin, the renaissance of an old bacchic brotherhood from the Middle Ages. "As our wines are no longer selling, let's invite our friends to drink them!" Since 2007 the domaine is owned and managed by Erwan Faiveley, the 7th generation of the Faiveley family and great grand­son of George. The domaine owns about 250 acres of vineyards – 150 acres were acquired over the years in the Côte Chalonnaise -¬ with 25 acres of Grand Cru and 70 acres of Premier Cru sites as well as several solely owned sites (Monopol sites).

11.30 pm Cellar tour and tasting at Domaine Jean­-Jacques Confuron in Prémeaux­-Prissey Côte de Nuits.

Louis Meunier was our host.

The roots of this domaine go back to the year 1926 when Jean Confuron of Vosne married Anne ­Marie Bouchard of Prémeaux – vines came from both sides of the family and the newly married couple chose to live in Prémeaux. Today the domaine is in the hands of their granddaughter Sophie who married Alain Meunier. When Sophie and Alan Meunier took over in 1988 it was clear to them to convert to organic farming. This is one of the small family run top Burgundy estates with 20 acres under vine in 1er and Grand Cru sites in the Côte de Nuits.

01.00 pm Lunch at restaurant La Cabotte in Nuits-­Saint-George.

La Cabotte is the best restaurant in Nuits-Saint-George and one of the best restaurants in the Bourgogne region.

Michelin: Good times are had by all at this modern, refined and convivial restaurant. It serves gourmet cuisine at reasonable prices in a pleasant, rustic setting and with a short but judicious wine list. Bib Gourmand:

02.30 pm Visit and tasting at Domaine Thibault Liger-­Belair in Nuits-­Saint­-George.

Thibault Liger­-Belair was our host.

The domaine has been in the Liger-­Belair family for 250 years. The somewhat complicated history came to a happy end when Thibault Liger­Belair took charge of the vines as winemaker and created Domaine Thibault Liger­Belair in 2001. In 2003 he added parcels of Richebourg, Clos Vougeot, and in Vosne­Romanée to his vineyard portfolio. He also bought vineyards in the Beaujolais region, in Moulin­à­Vent. He wants to farm biodynamically but it takes some transition time to convert the vineyards. Thibault is emerging as one of the few truly great winemakers in Nuits­-Saint­-George.

04.45 pm Guided tour of the Château du Clos de Vougeot.

In former times the Château du Clos de Vougeot was the acrigultural domaine of the Abbey of Cîteaux, where the roots of the Order of the Cistercians lie. It is a grand 16th century Renaissance­style manor house, with a wine cellar dating back to the 12th century. It sits majestically in the center of the 125 acres Grand Cru vineyard ‘Clos de Vougeot’ – the largest Grand Cru site in all of Burgundy. It has been owned since 1945 by the Confrérie des Chevaliers du Tastevin, a worldwide organization dedicated to the love of wine from Burgundy. The above­ground cellar, with its four enormous antique wine presses, is now used for their monthly dinners.

06.15 pm At Hotel La Gentilhommière in Nuits­-Saint­-George, Côte de Nuits.

Hotel La Gentilhommière in Nuits-Saint­-George is a 3+star Hotel, a typical Burgundian residence situated on the outskirts of town in a 30 acres beautiful park with a huge swimming pool and tennis courts.

07.30 pm Dinner at the restaurant of La Gentilhommière.

DAY 8: THURSDAY, June 02

09.30 am Vineyard walk, cellar tour and tasting at Domaine Anne Gros in Vosne-­Romanée, Côte de Nuits.

Elodie Roy was our host. We also met the daughter of Anne Gros, who will take over from her.

The Romanée­-Conti vineyard dominates the village, with its wines among the most expensive in the world. It is a monopole of Domaine de la Romanée­Conti. Around 600 cases are made each year from the vineyard's 1.8 ha. The Gros family clan has been making wine in Burgundy since the early 19­hundreds and posesses plots in some of the finest red wine vineyards. One branch of the family was the Domaine François Gros in Vosne­-Romanée. His daughter Anne took over the domaine in 1988 and renamed it Domaine Anne Gros.

Today the domaine has 18 acres in and around Vosne­Romanée and parcels in three Grand Cru sites – Richebourg, Echezeaux, Clos de Vougeot. There are no 1er crus; on the village level there is La Combed’Orveau, Chambolle-­Musigny, Les Barreaux, and Vosne-­Romanée. Anne Gros has become one of the major players in Burgundy and her wines figure among the most sought­ after.

11.45 am Cellar tour and tasting at Domaine Guillon & Fils in Gevrey­-Chambertin, Côte de Nuits.

Jean-Michel Guillon was our host. We were also joint by Jean-Michel's son Alexis Guillon.

Jean­-Michel Guillon was born in Paris and a pilot with the French army. Nobody in his family was ever involved in wine. He always loved Burgundy wines and in 1980 he boarded a train to Burgundy, got off and stayed. He had no training or any qualifications in winemaking. He studied what the experienced masters in the region did and built up relationships that have led to acquisitions of vineyards. Through tireless work he built a domaine of 35 acres of vineyards in the finest sites, among them parcels in the 2 Grand Cru sites: Clos de Vougeot and Mazis-­Chambertin. In 2005 his son joined to work in the winery. Since 1990 the prominent French wine magazine Guide Hachette regularly selects the Guillon wines as top wines.

01.30 pm Lunch at restaurant Chez Guy in Gevrey­-Chambertin.

‘Chez Guy’ is an institution in the area. This restaurant is a gathering spot for winemakers and wine merchants in the region.

Sandrine Rebsamen ably directed the service. Chef Yves Rebsamen, who learned his trade under Michelin star chefs Ledoyen and Bernard Loiseau greeted us as did senior Guy Rebsamen.

04.30 pm Cellar tour and tasting at Domaine Armelle et Bernhard Rion in Vosne­Romanée, Côte de Nuits.

Alice Rion was our host. Bernhard Rion greeted us.

Domaine Rion was founded in 1880 by Pierre Rion. His son Louis substantially enlarged the domaine. Forth generation Bernard Rion now manages the Domaine Rion with his wife Armelle and his daughter Alice. Wine production is very traditional with a high respect for nature. Vineyard management methods rely on natural or very specific products. 'Pheronomes' are diffused around the vineyards to provoke sexual confusion in certain insects eliminating the need to use insecticides. The average vines are over 50 years old and their roots draw nutrition from deep down in the ground. Besides the wine the family has a passion for truffles. The own four ‘truffel dogs’ who detect the best truffels hidden beneath the ground.

06.15 pm Back at hotel in Nuits­-Saint-­George.

DAY 9: FRIDAY, June 3

10.00 am Guided tour at Fontenay Abbey (Bernard de Clairveau), Montbard.

Fontenay Abbey in Burgundy was founded in 1118 by Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, a leading French saint, who was instrumental in placing the seeds for winemaking in all of Europe. It is the oldest preserved Cistercian abbey in the world. Recognized as French historic monument in 1862, it was declared World Heritage by Unesco in 1981. Luckily the abbey was not destroyed during and after the French revolution. All the buildings of the Romanesque period: the Abbey Church, the Dormitory, Cloister, Chapter Room, the Common Room, and the Forge are preserved. Still today we can admire the beauty and purity of architecture unspoiled for 900 years, and can enjoy the quiet of a place designed for spirituality.

12.00 pm Departure and drive to Chablis.

01.00 pm Winepairing lunch, cellar visit, and tasting at Domaine Jean-­Marc Brocard in Préhy, Chablis.

This domaine is a fruit of love. Jean­Marc Brocard is from the Côte d’Or region of Burgundy and fell in love with the daughter of a winemaker in Chablis. As a wedding gift, the couple got 2.5 acres of a vineyard near the church of Saint Claire in Préhy, in the vicinity of the town of Chablis. In 1973 Jean­Marc established the domaine Jean­Marc Brocard and developed the estate into a domaine with over 200 acres under vine. He had no prior connection with wine and trained with his father in­law to learn everything about winemaking. In 1996, Julien Brocard joined his father with the goal to convert to organic and biodynamic farming. The process is still ongoing. ‘La Boissonneuse’ vineyard was the first one to start with the transition process in 1997 and ‘Vielles Vignes’ followed in 2001. Today, Domaine Jean­-Marc Brocard is run by the ‘father­son’ team and stands for the upper echelon of Chablis wines.

Jean-Marc Brocard greeted us.

We then had lunch.

We then took a vineyard tour.

We then took a cellar tour.

The visit ended with a tasting.

06.30 pm At hotel Hostellerie des Clos in Chablis.

Hostellerie des Clos in Chablis is a 4 star very charming hotel in the heart of Chablis with a great spa and fitness room as well as a very good restaurant.

Others went out to discover the little town of Chablis ...

... or to buy Chablis.

The hotel restaurant Hostellerie des Clos is close to 1 Michelin star level and well regarded beyond Chablis. Some of us had dinner there.

Others, including Annette and me, had dinner in Chablis. There are a number of restaurants, brasseries, bistros for an evening meal.

DAY 10: SATURDAY, June 04

08.15 am Departure and drive to the Champagne region
09.45 am Visit and tasting at the grower Champagne House Champagne Jean Josselin in Gyé­sur­Seine, Champagne.

Jean Pierre Josselin, his wife and Sharona Tsubota were our hosts.

The Josselin family has been growing grapes since 1854 in Gyé­sur­Seine in the Côte des Bar, located 150km south of Epernay and 200km south of Reims and crossed by two rivers: the Seine and the Aube. The Côte des Bar became part of the official Champagne region in the early 1900s. In 1957 Jean Josselin decided to create his own brand: ‘Champagne Jean Josselin’. Champagne Jean Josselin ist a typical so called ‘grower Champagne’. The entire operation is managed by the family. Jean Pierre Josselin and son Jean Félix tend to the vines and take care of the vinification and Veronique Josselin does sales and marketing. They hired an American Sharona Tsubota to get into the American market. The Champagne house Jean Josselin produce about 100,000 bottles per year depending on the vintage. We got a fabulous introduction to the steps it takes to produce a top notch Champagne.

We started the visit at the new production facility.

We then moved to the Domaine, where we visited the cellars and had a Champagne tasting.

12.00 pm Lunchat restaurant Les Berges de l’Ource in Essoyes, Champagne.

Essoyes simply is the village of Renoir. August Renoir married Aline Victorine Charigot, who grew up in Essoyes. The Renoir family spent every summer here and many more months during the year. This village became so important to them that they wanted to get buried here. At every turn of the village we bump into sites that were important to the Renoir family: their family home, August Renor’s studio, their burial plot on the local cemetery. We will have time to visit some of the important Renoir sites.

04.30 pm Cellar visit and tasting at the Champagner House AR Lenoble in Epernay, Champagne.

Export Manager Christian Holthausen was our host.

AR Lenoble is one of the rare producers in Champagne that has been consistently family­owned and entirely independent since the very beginning. AR Lenoble was founded in 1920 by Armand­Raphaël Graser who arrived in Champagne from his native Alsace in 1915 in the middle of the First World War. Not wanting to have a German­sounding last name at that particular moment in history, he christened his wines “Lenoble” as he believed the wines of Champagne to be the most noble wines in France; his initials “AR” preceded the “Lenoble” and a new bran was created. Today his grandchildren brother and sister Antoine and Anne Malassagne are owners and manger of the estate. They took over in 1993 from their father and in just over twenty years, they have quietly yet confidently transformed AR Lenoble into one of the jewels of the Champagne region. AR Lenoble was the second House in Champagne to be awarded the “Haute Valeur Environnementale” certification as part of a legal measure implemented under French law in 2007 to encourage sustainable development.

06.30 pm At Hotel Holiday Inn in Reims.

Hotel Holiday Inn Reims Centre in Reims, a 4 star modern hotel with a roof top restaurant that provides for a stunning birds eye view on the cathedral.

DAY 11: SUNDAY, June 05

09.45 am Cellar visit and tasting at the Champagner House Taittinger in Reims, Champagne.

The Champagne House Taittinger was founded in 1734 by Jacques Fourneaux, who worked closely with the Benedictine Abbeys who owned the finest vineyards at that time. In 1932, Pierre Taittinger bought the Château de la Marquetterie from the wine house of Forest­Fourneaux. Taittinger has extensive vineyard holdings of 752 acres, including prestigious Grand Cru vineyards. Highest­quality production: exceeding minimum aging for all cuvées, high percentage of estate grapes, sustainable practices, use of a higher proportion of Chardonnay grapes in its blends than other large houses—this all gives the Taittinger’ Champagne a unique personality.

12.00 pm Wine pairing lunch at restaurant Brasserie Flo in Reims.

We finished the tour with an exquisite meal with wines from Burgundy and of course a Champagne at a very typical upscale French Brasserie.

Postings: Burgundy (and Champagne) 2016 Tour by ombiasy WineTours: From Lyon to Reims - Wine, Food, Culture and History (Published and Forthcoming Postings)

Burgundy (and Champagne) 2016 Tour by ombiasy WineTours: From Lyon to Reims - Wine, Food, Culture and History

Dinner at a Bouchon - Chez Paul - in Lyon: Schiller’s Favorite Bouchons in Lyon, France

Introduction to the Burgundy Wine Region at Antic Wine in Lyon with Flying Sommelier Georges Dos Santos

Lunch at the Iconic L’Auberge du Pont de Collonges, Paul Bocuse’s Restaurant in Collonges-­au-­Mont­ d’Or

In the Most Prestigious AOC in the Mâconnais: Pouilly-Fuissé, France

Vineyard Walk, Cellar Walk and Tasting at Domaine Ferret in Fuissé, Poully­Fuissé, Mâconnais, with Winemaker Audrey Braccini

Vineyard Walk, Cellar Tour and Tasting at Domaine Georges Descombes in Vermont, Villié­ Morgon, Beaujolais, with Madame Descombes

Cellar Tour and Tasting at Domaine Theulot­-Juillot in Mercurey, Côte Chalonnaise, with Owner/ Winemaker Nathalie Juillot

Visit of Château de Rully and Tasting of the Château de Rully Wines with Count Raoul de Ternay

Cellar Tour, Tasting and Lunch at Domaine Michel Prunier & Fille in Auxey­ Duresses, Côte de Beaune, with Michel Prunier

Vineyard walk in Meursault with Karoline Knoth

Maison Olivier Leflaive in Puligny­ Montrachet, Côte de Beaune: Vineyard Walk and Cellar Tour with Olivier and Patrick Leflaive along with Sommelier Charles Devarennes

Wine Pairing Lunch at Restaurant La Table d’Olivier Leflaive in Puligny­ Montrachet

Visit of the Hospice de Beaune

Lunch at Brasserie le Carnot in Beaune

Tour of the Ancient Cellars and Tasting at Maison Joseph Drouhin in Beaune, Côte de Beaune

Schiller’s Favorite Winebars in Beaune

An American in Burgundy: Cellar Tour and Tasting at Domaine Dublère in Savigny ­lès­ Beaune with Owner/ Winemaker Blair Pethel

Charcuterie and Cheese Paired with 12 Burgundy Wines at La Maison de Maurice in Beaune with Maurice Marle

Cellar Tour and Tasting at Domaine Faiveley in Nuits-­Saint­-George, Côte de Nuits

Cellar Tour and Tasting at Domaine Jean­-Jacques Confuron in Prémeaux­-Prissey Côte de Nuits with Louis Meunier

Lunch at Restaurant La Cabotte in Nuits-­Saint-­George

Visit and Tasting at Domaine Thibault Liger­-Belair in Nuits­-Saint­-George with Thibault Liger-­Belair

Visit of Château du Clos de Vougeot

Where the Most Expensive Red Wines Come from: Vineyard Walk, Cellar Tour and Tasting at Domaine Anne Gros in Vosne­-Romanée, Côte de Nuits

Cellar Tour and Tasting at Domaine Guillon & Fils in Gevrey­-Chambertin, Côte de Nuits, with Jean-Michel Guillon

An Institution: Lunch at Restaurant Chez Guy in Gevrey­-Chambertin

Cellar Tour and Tasting at Domaine Armelle et Bernhard Rion in Vosne­-Romanée, Côte de Nuits, with Alice Rion

Tour at the Fontenay Abbey (Bernard de Clairveau), Montbard

Wine Pairing Lunch, Cellar Visit, Vineyard Tour and Tasting at Domaine Jean­ Marc Brocard in Préhy, Chablis

Schiller’s Favorite Wine Spots in Chablis

Champagne – An Introduction, France

French Champagne Houses and German Roots 

Visit and Tasting at the Grower Champagne House Champagne Jean Josselin in Gyé­ sur ­Seine, Champagne, with Jean Pierre Josselin, his Wife and Sharona Tsubota

Cellar Visit and Tasting at the Champagner House AR Lenoble in Epernay, Champagne, with Export Manager Christian Holthausen

Cellar Visit and Tasting at the Champagner House Taittinger in Reims, Champagne

Lunch at Brasserie Flo in Reims 

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like an incredible adventure and experience! I am researching a tour of champagne and burgundy for this fall and your restaurant and hotel descriptions have been an inspiration. I can only hope to arrange one or two producer visits as it is notoriously difficult to book these at the family producers without a connection given the miniscule production. But I'll try! Thanks for sharing.