I caught myself reminciscing yesterday about my trip to France in 2009. I know how it happened – I was attending a Community Advisory Meeting for the Inaugral Junior League of San Antonio Wine Auction – Fete du Cuvee. We had a lot of great discussions and ideas, and my mind could not resist strolling down memory lane, taking me back to my first experience in the Burgundian Vines.
I thought it would be nice to share an entry from my travel journal with the Vinously Speaking / Vinously Chic readers. Especially because this was the trip in which the lovely Ceci Barretto played French host to an American gal and our friendship and love of wine really took flight.
So, let’s march down memory lane for a bit shall we?
First, close your eyes. Take a deep breath. Smell the cool Burgundy air whisping around your body and ruffling the vines – you’re standing there in awe of the lush landscape and serenity. Ok, now open your eyes, and let’s continue.
Today was our travel day to Beaune, about 30-40 minutes South of Dijon. Veronique (my wonderful friend, hostess, chef, and fellow wineaux) made lunch and we packed it to go and ate on the bus. We took the 12:25pm Transco Bus (#44). The bus travels on the Route de Grand Crus, so you get to see all of the vines and chateaus (see video link 1 below). Most of the grapes have already been harvested, but we still saw a good number of harvest workers and harvest trucks. The grapes are hand-picked here, no mechanical assistance is used. The grapes, of course, are treated like prized jewels! They even have signs that say something to the point of “right of way given to harvest trucks!”
This ride was amazing for me and a bit emotional – just the joy of being in Burgundy and seeing such a site that has existed for centuries. For me, I can only describe it as my little piece of heaven on earth. As far as your eyes can see, there are vines after vines, green and lush. Set in the backdrop of the vines, as if privileged to sit amongst them, are beautiful chateaus. Miles and miles of grapes – most of which are destined for the greatness Burgundy has to offer.
When we arrived in Beaune, we walked the city to Bourchard Aine & Fils for a scheduled wine tasting and cave tour. Here I am dressed Vinously Chic with my awesome French scarf – in purple of course!
They designed the tour to the five senses – we started in the barrel room with a white wine (see video link 2 below). This room had sounds tailored to the wine making process. The next room had a color chart for wine (sight) and we tried a red wine. The next room was tailored to smell and had several jars to sniff the aromas typically found in wine (this was my favorite exercise) (see video link 3 below). We then went into a room that had material you could feel that correlates to mouthfeel (example, leather or velvet to represent tannins). This was our last room, then we went upstairs to taste two more wines. We had a 1998 Grand Cru Clos de Vougeout, and then a Cassis. I purchased a 2002 Grand Cru that I plan on aging for 10 years – perhaps I can drink that for my 40th Birthday! I also bought a Cremant (Burgundy Sparkling Wine) and an Aligote.
After the tour, we walked to the Hospice of Beaune and took a self-guided tour. This was built after the Hundred Year’s War, for the poverty stricken. It was an amazing site. They also hold a wine auction here every November. I must come back someday and participate!
We took the bus back to Dijon and arrived at 6:25pm. We then went to dinner at a great creperie about five walking minutes from our apartment. I enjoyed a great Cider from Breton (NW France), a ham crepe and a dessert crepe filled with apples and caramel.
What a great day, one I’ll never forget.
Video Link 1 | Route de Grand Crus – http://www.youtube.com/MUnsell79#p/u/8/lwcN5vprkdw
Video Link 2 | Beaune Wine Tasting – http://www.youtube.com/MUnsell79#p/u/6/f2eWaKkYxTc
Video Link 3 | Beaune Wine Tasting – http://youtu.be/f2eWaKkYxTc