by Deirdre Frost……
We came to this famous wine region to deepen our understanding and appreciation of some of the best wine produced in the world. Beaune, we soon discover, is a bustling town with a decidedly sophisticated rural ambiance located in the very heart of the French countryside. Beneath medieval ramparts and former cloistered convents, vast mazes of wine cellars are connected under the entire ancient town, creating an extraordinary setting connecting the past with the present.
While strolling towards the town’s center, we encounter the shining bright edifice of the Hotel Dieu, founded in the 15th century. The Hotel Dieu, a perfectly preserved medieval structure with distinctive glazed polychrome roofs, and is a major central landmark of the town. A tour of this magnificent facility provides an interesting insight into the medieval minds of those wealthy and poor individuals now long forgotten. The wonderfully executed, altarpiece of the Last Judgment by the famed early Flemish artist, Rogier Van Der Weyden, evokes some of the universal awe and trepidation that most of those in this hospice dwelling must have genuinely felt.
In contrast, modern Beaune can be very much about enjoying the epicurean material pleasures of wine and food prepared to the highest of French standards, while providing a lifestyle of comfort and sophistication. While the town has
many outstanding properties, we choose to stay at the 5-star, Hostellerie Le Cèdre Beaune, which has a beautifully-landscaped garden with imposing cedar trees. This luxury hotel is tastefully decorated with forty spacious rooms and suites, with some rooms having a sun roof, creating an open-air atmosphere. A major highlight is the hotel restaurant, Le Clos du Cèdre, with an exceptional chef, who is on his way undoubtedly to being awarded Michelin star status.
Chef Christophe Leduc appears to have combined a particularly innovative approach while maintaining a solid French tradition in his cuisine preparation. The fresh favorable ingredients on the menu are mostly sourced from local farms, including the Charolais beef.
The wine cellar has some of the most prestigious Burgundy wines available. The wine recommended by our Sommelier complemented perfectly well with the unique flavor of each dish served at our table.
This beautifully restored 19th-century mansion with high ceilings, spacious rooms, and paneled carved walls provides an intimate backdrop that enhances the gastronomic experiences in a romantic setting.
- www.lecedre-beaune.com, 12, Bd. Marèchal Foch, 21200 Beaune, +33 (0)3 80 24 09 90
The Inn provides an ideal location to explore the town and the local vineyards surrounding Beaune. An appealing option is to take a leisurely journey by bicycle to the vineyards with a local guide. We arrange a tour with Jean-Michel of Bourgogne Evasion Bike and Wine Tours, who took us through vineyards and French villages to reach the Château de Pommard.
Along the way, we are captivated by the beauty and the tranquility of the countryside that brings us in contact with nature.
www.bourgogne-evasion.fr, 8, Hameau du Chateau, 71150 Rully, +33 664 688 357
Visiting Local Winemakers
Only 3 km (1.86 miles) south from Beaune, this magnificent country estate lies within the ancient vineyard of Clos Marey-Monge in the heart of the Côte d’Or. The estate originally consisted of two Châteaux, has an aristocratic lineage with legendary reference to medieval times when King Henry IV tasted the wine from the vineyards of Pommard as he traveled through Burgundy. Many generations later, the Micault family maintained the estate with the precious Clos that is the largest in Burgundy.
Over three centuries of family ownership, the legacy continues under the current vigneron, Michael Baum, whose innovative practices includes the making of fine wines organically on his large estate of 20 hectares (nearly 50 acres). The emphasis is on the individual terroirs as represented by the different soils and microclimate, which is then coupled with the winemaker’s expertise in blending the best possible wines.
Today, Château de Pommard is impressive with its stately buildings that feel grand, yet the friendliness of the staff puts us at ease while touring the estate and then tasting fine wine.
- https://chateaudepommard.com/our-wines/, 15, rue Marey Monge, 21630 Pommard, +33 (0) 3 80 22 07 99
Château de Beaune, Bouchard Père & Fils
Originally a former royal fortress built in the 15th century by King Louis XI, this historic estate came into the possession of Bernard Bouchard in 1820. Bouchard turned the bastions and ramparts into cellars for maturing of his fine wines. Today, there are millions of bottles including grand cru, premier cru and other rare wine dating back to the 1800’s. In 1995, the Château was purchased by the Henriot family who expanded the business into the regions of Meursault and the Côte de Nuits.
In 2005, the Château introduced its first winemaking operations at the new winery located in Savigny-lès-Beaune. A tour of the renowned cellars, ramparts and lavender gardens followed by wine tasting provided us with so many interesting facets to experience.
Visitors have the opportunity to choose from 150 Burgundy wines including Bouchard Père & Fils Grand Cru Le Corton red or Beaune Clos Saint-Landry Premier Cru white which are two popular selections.
- https://www.bouchard-pereetfils.com/en/nearly-3-centuries-of-history/the-chateau-de-beaune/, 15, Rue du Château, 21200 Beaune, +33 (0) 3 80 24 80 24
Château de la Crée
Just outside of Beaune, some of the most exquisite Bourgogne Chardonnay and
pinot noir wine are produced from the fine grapes grown on the slopes of this magnificent estate. In the 15th century, this Château, came into the possession of Nicolas Rolin, Chancellor to Philippe the Good, the Duke of Burgundy, who founded the renowned Hospices de Beaune.
The Château and grounds have been restored to its full grandeur under the current ownership of the Evenstad’s, who use the most modern and sustainable practices to produce Burgundy wines.
The estate has many award winning Premier Cru vintages, such as Santeney Premier Cru Gravières 2014 White Burgundy and Santeney Premier Cru 2013 Red Burgundy, which are all excellent.
- https://www.la-cree.com/en/, 11, Rue Gaudin, 21590 Santenay-Le-Haut, +33 (0)3 80 20 63 36
Burgundy is profoundly French and of course famous for pinot noir and chardonnay wine. Yet, this wine region is the home of many other distinctive styles; one, in particular, is “Cremant”, which is a consistent, high quality, sparkling wine. Surprisingly, the fine attributes of Cremant are not a secret, yet very few individuals know how the varietals are blended and produced.
Meeting the people involved in winemaking offers much excitement as we discover some of the best estate vineyards of Burgundy around Beaune. Visiting this wine capital allows individuals to connect with winemakers, who open up their cellars to those who wish to partake in the experience. The appeal, undoubtedly, is to tour, taste, and savor the fine food and wine in this historic and beautifull region.
It is said that the philosopher Voltaire remarked, “I serve you Beaune to my friends, but your Volnay I keep for myself”, referring to the simple pleasure of possessing fine Burgundy wine.
Further information: https://www.beaune-tourism.com. To get around the vineyards, hire a car through https://www.beaune-tourism.com/practical/getting-here-around/taxi-car-rental, +33 (0)3 80 262 130