Wine
Gastronomy
History
Historical Monuments
Cycling
Music

Wine

 Any serious wine lover's path inevitably goes through Burgundy. This wine region is an inexhaustible source of discovery and pleasure. Today, more than ever, in an increasingly standardized world, it fervently asserts its complexity. The Burgundian wine region is a mosaic composed of more than a hundred appellations, some no bigger than a comfortably sized garden. Amongst these AOC are 33 grands crus. Some of them you will be able to find just a few hundred metres from Le Montrachet. More precisely, the grands crus from the Montrachet family: Chevalier-Montrachet, Bâtard-Montrachet, etc., which constitute the most famous white wines in the world.

Le Montrachet is also situated just ten minutes or so from the greatest vineyards for red wines such as Volnay and  Pommard.

Sometimes described as complicated, the wines of Burgundy can also be completely transparent for those who understand their logic. This can be resumed in a few words: these wines are an expression of their terroir; wines that express the individuality of their origins. This contributes to making them unique. Conscientious winegrowers show these terroirs off to best advantage and they are often willing to share a convivial moment with visitors who venture into their wineries.

Gastronomy

Burgundy is without doubt a land of flavours and gastronomy. Reflecting its famous wines, Burgundian gastronomy is a cuisine where the emphasis is on authenticity, tradition and respect for ingredients.

An originality that has enabled Burgundian specialities to be known throughout the world.

Chefs like Bernard Loiseau, Marc Meneau, Jacques Lameloise, Jean-Michel Lorain have put, or are still putting, their mark on this epoch.  Success for haute cuisine that is also based on a solid, popular culinary tradition: Burgundy snails, Boeuf Bourguignon, Coq au Fin, Oeufs en Meurette and Jambon Persillé are amongst the most well known dishes. 

History

From the very first Gallo-Roman vine plantations to the birth of Appellations d'Origine Contrôlée, the history of Burgundy is intimately entwined with that of its vineyards. The discovery in 2009 of an ancient vineyard in Gevrey-Chambertin has proved that the vine flourished in Burgundy from the first moments of our era.

The Middle Ages saw the successive birth of the Abbeys of Cluny and Cîteaux, unprecedented movements of monastic reform. The two famous abbeys were the leading European centres for science and reformist thought as well as economic, social, artistic and even political activity for several centuries.

The monks were also known to be remarkable winegrowers and developed quality viticulture. The riches of the Duchy inevitably provoked envy and, in 1352, the House of Valois laid hands on it. Under the influence of this exceptional ducal dynasty, Burgundy was now in the big league. The Dukes proclaimed themselves ‘Lords of the best wines in Christendom'.

The cards were later reshuffled by the French Revolution which worked in favour of the middle classes and the wine merchants. Thanks to the latter, the reputation of Burgundy

wines gained ground throughout the world. Then, at the end of the 19th century, phylloxera (devastating insects) arrived and brought a stop to an extremely prosperous period. After this crisis, wine producers decided to try to end increasing fraudulent activity and 1935 saw the birth of the Appellations d'Origine Contrôlées. Since then, the ties that bind Burgundians to their land have only got stronger.

Historical Monuments

Beaune and the Hospices

Beaune deserves its title of ‘Capital of Burgundy Wines'. A large number of the most prestigious wine merchants from the region have their headquarters in Beaune : Louis Latour, Bouchard Père et Fils, Joseph Drouhin, Albert Bichot. The magnificent Hôtel Dieu, built at the height of Duke Philip the Good's reign, with its famous roof of varnished coloured tiles, is a must for any visitor to the region. Visitors also enjoy wandering through the remarkably well-preserved medieval streets. A path which is inevitably punctuated by the numerous wine bars, wine cellars and restaurants that are also part of Beaune's unique character.

www.beaune-tourisme.fr

 

Château du Clos de Vougeot

If there is one top name amongst the great Burgundy wines, it's the Château du Clos de Vougeot. In the heart of Burgundy's vineyards, it attracts lovers of history, architecture and wine.

It owes its existence to the monks from Citeaux Abbey. In the 12th century, it was they who built a wine farm in the middle of the vineyards, to which a Renaissance style chateau was added in the 16th century. This exceptional heritage site is also the seat of the Order of the Confrérie des Chevaliers du Tastevin, the best known wine confrérie in the world.

www.closdevougeot.fr

 

Cluny Abbey

An entire chapter of Burgundy's history is written on the walls of the Benedictine Abbey of Cluny. In the Middle Ages, its sphere of influence extended throughout Europe and, before the construction of St Peter's in Rome, its abbey church was the biggest in Christendom.

Today, after nine centuries of monks, the site still offers a remarkable heritage: many monastic buildings, a Museum of Art and Archaeology housing major civil Romanesque sculpture, a town rich in Romanesque and Gothic houses, a majestic Hôtel-Dieu and a superb panorama from the top of the Tour des Fromages.

www.cluny-tourisme.com

 

The wine villages

Sometimes known as the ‘Champs Elysées of Burgundy', a trip through the Côte de Beaune or the Côte de Nuits is to come across villages which have given their names to the most famous appellations of the region: Pommard, Meursault, Chambolle-Musigny, to name just a few. The character of Burgundian terroirs is even apparent in the houses belonging to each vineyard. Sober but meticulously finished houses or huge buildings around central courtyards. Many are home to wine producers who are willing to open their cellars to wine lovers. These villages are also starting points for walks, whether on foot or a bicycle, through the vines.

Cycling

Burgundy really is an enchanted kingdom. In February 2014, AFAR, one of America's most important travel magazines, designated it the best region in the world for cycling through vines.

Primarily, a reward for ‘Burgundy by Bike': a sign-posted 800 kilometre long trail, reserved for cyclists and tour bikers. Broken up into five principal itineraries, it is composed of cycling tracks and greenways frequently along canals or towpaths, former railways or even through the vineyards. There's nearly always a surprise just round the corner: a chateau, a chapel, an inn or an outstanding natural site.

One example of a touring route: ‘The Vineyard Way' between Beaune and Santenay. This route, which passes just a few dozen metres from our hotel, winds through an exceptional protected area: la Côte Méridionale de Beaune. ‘The Vineyard Way' goes through a dozen parishes until it gets to Remigny, in the Saône-et-Loire. This classification takes its name from the hills at the foot of which the grapes grow, softened by wide expanses of vineyards and punctuated by villages with world famous names : Pommard, Volnay, Meursault... and, also, Puligny-Montrachet!

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A bit further to the south you can follow the Saône-et-Loire "voie verte” path. Laid out along the Canal du Centre, you can travel safely on a bike but also on foot or on roller blades. It follows the Canal du Centre from Saint Léger-sur-Dheune as far as Chalon-sur-Saône and there are more than 10 towns and villages to explore. Enjoy the charm of the verdant canal and its boats and see the Côte Chalonnaise from another angle. No less than six loops of varying degrees of difficulty (all sign-posted), are associated with this itinerary which enables you to enjoy the countryside and heritage of the south part of Burgundy at an easy pace.

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Music

The Burgundian vineyards are home to numerous concerts, festivals or other musical events whether jazz, classical or light music. Le Montrachet is the ideal starting point for any of these events where more often than not wine and music go hand in hand. Here are a few ideas.

 

Wine and Music at Clos de Vougeot (21)

Started in 2008, this festival is now a calendar event for music-lovers. The most prestigious performers, for example soloists from the New York Metropolitan Opera, find the venerable and emblematic Château du Clos Vougeot to be an exceptional venue. Each performance is preceded by a wine tasting. The festival takes place at the end of June.

www.musiqueetvin-closvougeot.com

 

Les Musicaves at Givry (71)

This famous festival celebrates the marriage between music (whether it be world, classical or rock) and Givry wines. The concerts are accompanied by wine tastings and constitute one of the most extraordinary and delicious happenings in the heart of Burgundy. They take place in wineries or in the Poncey church at the end of June.

www.lesmusicaves.fr

 

Les Grandes Heures de Cluny (71)

From June to August, the Festival des Grandes Heures de Cluny is home to numerous classical concerts as well as contemporary music concerts. They take place in different parts of the famous Cluny Abbey. The sponsors of this event, winegrowers from the region and the committee of the Interprofessionnel des Vins de Bourgogne, select crus for the audience to taste after each concert.

www.grandesheuresdecluny.com

 

Jazz at Couches (71)

This jazz festival has held its place in the Burgundian music scene for nearly thirty years and some great jazz players have played here. The sites of Château de Marguerite de Bourgogne or the Saint-Martin Priory are extraordinary settings in which to enjoy the programme. Of course, the local wines also have their part to play. It takes place at the beginning of July.

 

Festival de Bach à Bacchus(21)

The internationally renowned pianist, Yves Henry, founded the Festival de Bach à Bacchus in 1986 with the help of a handful of winegrowers. Some of the greatest classical performers have played in the concerts. They take place in prestigious venues such as the Château de Meursault. Guided visits of Meursault and its vineyard as well as wine tastings are on offer. It takes place at the end of July.

 

Festival of Music at Chambertin (21)

From 19 September to 5 October

From the end of September to the beginning of October, Music au Chambertin organises three weekends uniting wine and music. A blend of genres and cultures: classical music, jazz and French music along with wine tastings after the concerts, gourmet intervals and wine mornings.

www.ot-gevreychambertin.fr

 

Jazz at Beaune (21)

This festival unites jazz and the great wines of Burgundy. Concerts and wine tastings are on the programme for two weekends, one in September, the other in October. It puts a little ‘swing' in the air at a time when Burgundy is normally in the middle of its wine harvest.

www.jazzabeaune.fr