Wednesday, November 3, 2010


The Cote d'Or!

Chassagne-Montrachet! My personal fav! This appellation produces some absolutely wonderful Chardonnays and is thought to be one of the "big three" white wine villages of the Cote de Beaune - a member of the Holy Trinity if you will, along with Meursault and Puligny-Montrachet.

Fountain in Meursault

The Premises of A Fabulous 3 Course Lunch in Meursault. Le Bouchon Restaurant.

Dad Buying More Pate in Meursault.

The Tell Tale Sign That a Winery is Open for Tastings - Empty Bottles on top of a Barrel.

Castle with a Cool Draw-Bridge.

Chestnuts. Get'em While They're Hot. Saturday Morning Market in Beaune.

Dried Fruit and Olives, Saturday Market in Beaune.

Sausages, 3 for 10 Euros. Saturday Market in Beaune.


Artichokes and Radishes. Saturday Market in Beaune.

Truffles! Saturday Market in Beaune.

Couvent des Cordeliers

Couvent des Cordeliers

Interior of L'Oiseau des Vignes

First Course at L'Oiseau des Vignes

Dessert at L'Oiseau des Vignes

Hospices de Beaune, "Palace for the Poor"
I just loved these colour patterned roofs, they are certainly one of the most eye catching sights as you travel through Burgundy. They are mainly found on grand buildings and made from glazed multicoloured tiles - they are still made today.

Hospices de Beaune

Hospices de Beaune

Inside the Hospices de Beaune

After all that gorgeous fresh air in the alps we decided to detour to Burgundy for a few days for some wine tasting, touring and a little culture before heading home.

Sooner or later all bons vivants end up in Burgundy tasting Grand Cru wines and eating snails, boeuf bourguignon and oeufs en meurette, the poached eggs cooked in red Burgundy wine. Burgundians are truly obsessed with good wine and food. My parents had I were lucky enough to experience the gustatory delights of the Saturday morning market in Beaune. A delight for gourmets, the market certainly reflected the region's reputation as the stomach of France. The streets and squares were packed with merchants and farmers selling pretty much anything one's appetite desired – seasonal vegetables, fresh fruit, herbs, cheese, sausages, truffles, nuts, quail's eggs and bread.

We had two absolutely fabulous lunches during our visit to Burgundy. The first was at a great little restaurant called Le Bouchon in Meursault. I had a fabulous three course meal – salad topped with goats cheese wrapped in crispy filo pastry, followed by the most tender duck I've ever had, culminating with a dessert so good I can't remember what it was. Our second most fabulous lunch, also three courses, was the following day at Bernard Loiseau's restaurant Loiseau Des Vignes in Beaune. The restaurant had a wine list offering a selection of 70 premium names all served by the glass!! We all splurged for the menu marche, a three course lunch which featured some of the paramount dishes of Burgundy - boeuf chalonnaise (to die for!!) and the most heavenly chocolate mousse concoction for dessert.

In addition to touring and tasting some of the world's most prestigious vineyards and wines, there was certainly no shortage of things to see and do in the town of Beaune. The Hospices de Beaune (or Hotel-Dieu) was definitely a highlight. It was founded in 1443 by Nicolas Rolin, chancellor of Burgundy, and his wife, Guigone de Salins, as a hospital for the poor and needy. From the Middle Ages to the 20th century, countless sick were taken in and cared for in several of the large rooms by the Sisters of the Hospices de Beaune. The hospice rapidly gained a great reputation amongst the poor, nobles and middle-class alike. It was subsequently enlarged with donations fromthe latter and embellished with new rooms and works of art! The hospice possesses many artistic treasures, among them a 15th century altar piece, The Last Judgement, painted by the flemish artist Rogier Van der Weyden. Apparently, it was placed above the Chapel and was only allowed to be seen by the sick on Sunday and feast days.

The Hospices de Beaune also hosts an important charity wine auction held each year in November. The auction has been arranged annually since 1851, taking place on the third Sunday in November amid a three day festival devoted to the food and wines of Burgundy. The Domaine des Hospices de Beaune is a non-profit organisation which owns around 61 hectarres of donated vineyard land, much of this classified Grand and Premier Cru.

Another great highlight was touring the caves and cloisters of the Couvent des Cordeliers. The Caves du Couvent des Cordeliers, now a wine merchant, is the oldest monastery in Beaune, founded in the 13th century. The cellars are situated in the heart of the historic town opposite the Hotel-Dieu. The Couvent's cellars house some very fine Burgundian wines, all aged with great care of course. We ended our visit in the Chapter house, which has been transformed into a wine shop and tasting area , where we got to sample some delicious and interesting wines. The following is a list of the wines we tasted:

1.Couvent des Cordeliers, Pouilly-Fuisse, 2006, Price: 14. 20 Euro
Quite a lively wine, with aromas and flavours of exotic ripe fruits – pineapple, pear and hazelnut. It is full-bodied with a strong oak influence. Note: Pouilly-Fuisse ia an appellation for dry white wine made from Chardonnay in the Maconnais region of Burgundy. This was not my favourite wine out of the 6 others tasted.

2.Couvent des Cordeliers, Meursault, 2006 (white), Price: 29.60 Euro
A mellow dry white wine with a heady bouquet of almond, apple, foliage and crusty warm bread and a long and elegant finish. Would be quite tasty with some crab cakes or other seafood dishes. Note: Meursault is a renowned commune in the Cote d'Or region of Burgundy and produces mainly white wines from Chardonnay.

3.Couvent des Cordeliers, Vosne-Romanee, 2007, Price: 35.00 Euro
Deep ruby in colour with intense aromatics of spice, nutmeg, red fruit, cherry and blackcurrant. This is a rich, silky, complex and well balanced wine that has long ageing potential. Notes: Vosne-Romanee is a commune located north of Beaune in the Cote de Nuits are of the Cote d”or department in Burgundy. This area produces some of the region's best red wines, all made entirely from the Pinot Noir grape.

4.Hospices de Beaune, Beaune , Premier Cru, Cuvee Clos de Avaux, 2001, Price: 44.00 Euro
Dark in colour with dominant aromas of candied berry fruit and barnyard notes, this wine is well balanced, tannic and has a long delicious finish. Enjoy this wine with morel mushrooms or cheeses like Chaource or Brillat Savarin. One of my favourite wines in the tasting.

5.Couvent des Cordeliers, Charmes-Chambertin, Grand Cru, 2004, Price: 56.00 Euro
Vigorous, robust, elegant and fine, this highly fragrant wine has intense aromas of animal/barnyard and soft ripe berry fruit – typical in character for Pinot Noir.
Note: Charmes-Chambertin is a Grand Cru (the best) vineyard for red wine in the Cote de Nuits region of Burgundy, with Pinot Noir as the main grape variety.