BURGUNDY PRIVATE TOURS AND DAY TRIPS
Unique Custom Tours ~ Visit with Burgundy Wine Producers, Tasting of Up to 20 Wines
Private Burgundy Tours From the Burgundy Region Or As Day Trips from Paris
Are you interested in going on a Burgundy tour? Yes?! Here are some information to help you design you private tour in Burgundy.
Burgundy, or Bourgogne, is one of the most renowned wine-making regions in the world, known for its dry reds and white Chardonnays. Just two hours from Paris and one hour from Lyon lies this beautiful and fascinating region, where wine has been produced since ancient Roman times. Burgundy boasts more appellations d’origine contrôlée (AOCs) than any other part of France, thanks to its favorable climate and terroir.
Traveling through Burgundy, you will have the opportunity to sample some wines you won’t find in any store. Some small wineries produce as little as 100 cases per year, while Maison Louis Latour in Beaune is the largest producer, at 350,000 cases a year. Many growers in the region sell their grapes onward, though an increasing number of small independent producers are entering the market with labels of their own.
Burgundy wines are hyper-localized in their classification, while in Bordeaux, classifications are producer-specific and awarded to individual chateaux, Burgundy wines are geographically focused.
The hierarchy of wine classifications can be bewildering to the neophyte. The top of class starts with grand crus, which must be aged at least five years among other criteria, followed by premier crus, then village-level and regional appellations, and finally the generic appellations, such as Bourgogne Blanc.
Climats, a term used in Burgundy to refer to an individual vineyard area, vary greatly from one patch of soil to another, leading to the diversity of flavors and bouquets you will experience from one glass of Burgundy to another. The best Grand Crus are usually grown on the upper slopes, where the vineyards have the most sunlight and the best drainage whereas the lower-quality “village” wines are produced from the flat areas nearer the villages.
Burgundy is blessed with rich soil ideal for growing a wide variety of grape varieties. The subsoil contains limestone and marlstone date from the Jurassic age some 200 million years ago, making the soil calcium rich and ideal for retaining water and allowing for easier uptake of the nutrients a grapevine needs to survive. The hills spanning from Chablis to Mâconnais, in part sculpted during the glacial age, help provide drainage, protection from the wind, and year-round sunshine ideal for grape-growing.
Chablis and Grand Auxerrois
Approaching Burgundy from the northwest, you’ll first encounter Chablis and Grand Auxerrois, whose clay-limestone soil produces one of Burgundy’s renown Grand Cru, a lively, dry Chardonnay. Discerning palates will pick up on the mineral flavor the clay-limestone soil lends Chablis wines.
In addition to the Grand Cru, Chablis Premier Cru wines are also much appreciated, and span a range of wines, from floral to earthy in their bouquets. The bright citrus flavors in the Petit Chablis are also exquisite.
The neighboring terroir of Grand Auxerrois is also home to a wide variety of appellations. Grand Auxerrois wines are mainly produced from the traditional Burgundy varietals,Aligoté and Chardonnay for white wines, and Gamay and Pinot Noir for the reds. Other varietals grown in Grand Auxerrois rich limestone soils include César, an old Burgundy varietal for reds, and white-wine grapes Sacy and Melon.
César is often found in Irancy wines, one of two village appellations in Grand Auxerrois; the other village appellation, Saint-Bris, is known for its Sauvignon whites.
Southeast of Chablis lies the Côte d’Or, home to Burgundy’s most renown — and most expensive — wines originate. Virtually all the Grand Crus of Burgundy are produced here. The Côte d’Or has two subdivisions, the Côte de Nuits, which starts south of Dijon and runs through Corgoloin, south of Nuits-Saint-Georges. Côte d’Or’s other section, Côte de Beaune, spans from Ladoix to Dezize-les-Maranges.
Côte d’Or’s Côte de Nuits & Hautes Cotes de Nuits
The Côte d’Or is comprised of many small villages, surrounded by vineyards on both flat and sloping ground. The Côte de Nuits region is known for its top-flight reds, earning its moniker the Champs-Elysées of Burgundy, in part due to the narrow strip on the slope where the best grapes are grown. Côte de Nuits, whose soils favor the Pinot Noir grape, contains 24 out of the 25 red Grand Cru appellations in Burgundy. Beloved red wines from this region include Saint-Denis, Chambolle-Musigny, Vougeot, Vosne-Romanée and Nuits Saint-Georges. Some fabulous white wines are also produced here, mainly golden Chardonnays, with some other whites also made from the Aligoté grape.
One of the most notable Côte de Nuits wineries is Le Clos de Vougeot, a medieval, stone-walled vineyard started by Cistercian monks beginning in the 12th century. Monks played an important role in the development of Burgundy wine-making, and their legacy can be seen in the vineyards and their methods of vine cultivation still today.
Côte d’Or’s Côte de Beaune
The other region of the Côte d’Or, Côte de Beaune, boasts all of the region’s white Grand Crus from the region’s renowned Chardonnay grapes. The Montrachet vineyard is almost equally divided between Puligny-Montrachet and Chassagne-Montrachet. Five white Grand crus are found in Motrachet alone, namely Montrachet, Bâtard-Montrachet, Chevalier-Montrachet, Criots-Bâtard-Montrachet, Bienvenue-Bâtard-Montrachet in addition to Corton and Corton-Charlemagne. Beaune’s wine-growing area spans many miles and yet the vineyeards are not even 100 feet wide. Our Côte de Beaune tour features a visit to Chassagne Montrachet, called one of the “Big Three” white wine-producing villages in the Côtes de Beaune. We also visit the Hautes Côtes de Beaune, whose family vineyards have been making wine for 15 generations. Some 20 communes produce wines from the Bourgogne Hautes Côtes de Beaune appellation on the sun-drenched slopes here.
The Côte Chalonnaise and Couchois
Beyond the Côte d’Or lies the Côte Chalonnaise, where a mix of both red and whites are produced, many being the lesser-known appellations such as Mercurey, Rully and Givry. Many of the renowned appellations here are made from Pinot Noir, Chardonnay or Aligoté. The village of Bouzeron is known for its dry white Aligoté wines, as it claims the only Village appellation that is entirely produced from this ancient varietal. The area’s hot summers and dry autumns are one of the secrets to the vineyards’ success. The Côte Chalonnaise is also known as the birthplace of the wonderful sparkling white, Crémant de Bourgogne. The Couchois, a terroir neighboring the Côte Chalonnaise, also produces some fine wines, first recognized as a regional appellation in 2000.
Further south, the Mâconnais region is known for producing more affordable, drinkable white wines, below it being the famous Beaujolais region, famous for its light, fruity red wines made from Gamay grapes. This region is blessed with lots of sunshine and granite-based soils, making it a very favorable area for wine growing. All grapes here are picked by hand.
The Chardonnay grape is king in the Mâconnais, representing 80% of the vines planted in the region, whereas among red wines here, the Gamay is most prominent. An array of regional appellations is produced here, including Bourgogne, Bourgogne Aligoté, Bourgogne Passe-Tout-Grains, Coteaux Bourguignons and Crémant de Bourgogne. The crisp whites produced in the Mâconnais are an affordable gateway to Burgundy Chardonnays, with many great finds to discover here.
To the west, you’ll find the somewhat undiscovered region of Châtillonnais, known for its sparkling Crémant de Bourgogne wines, made from the traditional Burgundy varieties of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. These wines are made in the Champagne method around the villages of Belan-sur-Ource, Chaumont-le-Bois, Charrey-sur-Seine, Massingy and Molesmes. You’ll find both fine sparkling whites and rosés here, as well as some wonderful fruity red wines, and citrusy whites.
Traveling through Burgundy is a rare opportunity to witness a tradition practiced continuously for more than two millennia. The region is fertile ground for learning about, exploring and enjoying the fine wines France has to offer.
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