If you’re a member of our French wine club, you probably saw our recent insider’s guide to visiting Bordeaux with top tips from our founder, Laurent, whose family have been making wine here for generations. For our next guide we decided it was only fair to take a virtual trip to Bordeaux’s greatest rival, the Burgundy region! Here’s our insights into the very best local secrets and hot spots to pack into your perfect Burgundy wine trip.
Top Burgundy Wineries To Visit
In Burgundy, family is as essential to life as good food and fine wine. Unlike Bordeaux where the typical winery is a medium-sized operation set around a grand chateau, in Burgundy, wineries are usually very small and less used to receiving visitors. Some Burgundy domaines have literally just a handful of hectares of vines and they may be mom and pop-style operations where the whole family gets roped in to help out at harvest time. Needless to say, visiting these types of wineries is a completely different experience and takes a bit of getting used to.
The first step is choosing which of Burgundy’s 3890 producers to start with. Given Burgundy is about 200 miles south-east of Paris, it is well worth giving yourself a few days to really explore and get to know the region. If you are limited on time, it is probably best to focus your trip on the Côte de Beaune which is famed for its top white wines and the Côte de Nuits which is better known for Pinot Noir.
Our recommendation would be Domaine Rapet which has been in the hands of the same family since 1765 and today it is run by talented winemaker Vincent Rapet. The estate occupies a privileged position in the commune of Pernand-Vergelesses which sits between the eastern slope of the Côte d’Or and the famed hill of Corton. Amongst the family’s holdings are three Grand Cru vineyards in Corton and a total of nine Premier Cru sites in the villages of Beaune, Pernand-Vergelesses and Savigny-les-Beaune.
If you are a somMailier wine club member, you may have tried the family’s delicious Bourgogne which was included in a recent shipment. We are very fortunate to have access to these wines thanks to Vincent Rapet’s son, Robin, who works in Laurent’s brother’s distribution company in Paris. We believe these guys are one of the best value small producers from the region and the Rapet family’s wines are rarely seen outside of France. So it’s definitely worth making the trip out there if you find yourself in Burgundy!
Burgundy’s Cultural Treasures & Sightseeing
The Burgundy region has a huge amount to offer visitors in addition to wine tourism. Dijon, the region’s capital, was blessed with immense wealth under the Duchy of Burgundy during the 14th and 15th centuries, and as a result the city is liberally studded with enchanting medieval buildings everywhere you look. It is well worth spending a half day or so simply wandering the streets and soaking up the atmosphere, stopping off for a glass of wine or coffee when the fancy takes you.
It is also worth taking plenty of time to enjoy the gastronomic pleasures of Burgundy. Dijon is rightly famed for its namesake mustard which can be bought in specialist shops like Edmond Fallot. Another regional speciality is Boeuf bourguignon, the hearty stew which is traditionally made using red Burgundy and washed down with a glass or two more! Those who love cheese should seek out the local Epoisses which is particularly strong-flavoured rind-washed specimen and pairs brilliantly with Burgundy’s crisp Chablis wines.
The stunning Burgundy countryside is filled with charming medieval villages and castles which give the region its unique character. Must-see sights include the abandoned Fontenay Abbey, which was founded in 1118 and is a UNESCO World Heritage site, and the stunning basilica of Vezelay. Those with an interest in history will also find fascinating the 16th century Chateau d’Ancy le Franc and 17th century Chateau de Cormatin which is surrounded by extensive gardens and a moat.
Burgundy is also home to the scenic and peaceful Morvan National Park which offers 1,000 square miles of lakes, peaks, and woodland. It’s the ideal spot to burn off some of the calories you’ve consumed while enjoying the fine wines and food of Burgundy! The park is dotted with small villages for those who haven’t yet had their fill of hearty Burgundian cuisine which offer hearty, home-cooked meals in an authentic rural setting.
Where To Stay
Burgundy has a wealth of accommodation options to suit every budget and travel style. Those looking to experience the region’s traditional hospitality should consider Les Jardins de Loïs in Beaune, a small family-run hotel which feels like a home from home. Those looking for a little more wow-factor will love the Château de Courban which is set in a stunning 19th century mansion and has a spa, outdoor swimming pool and a Michelin-starred restaurant.
Romantics should check in to La Maison du Clos du Roi, a three-bedroom rural retreat in the heart of the gorgeous village of Mercurey-Bourgogne. The property has stunning views out over the vineyards next door which belong to the renowned Château de Chamirey estate.
Has this whetted your appetite to learn more about French wine? We’re here to help! Why not check out our French wine club. Every three months we send direct to your door three or six bottles of boutique French wines which have been carefully selected by our family and wine experts in France along with detailed information about each wine and food pairing ideas to help you really discover French wine. And as if that wasn’t enough, we also have a wine club gift option for that special wine lover in your life!