Monday, October 17, 2011

Conquering The Bucket List: Bourgogne Part I

If I thought I had already experienced the most fabulous thing in the world, (something the Mr. says I say all the time) I was wrong.  Bourgogne in the Fall is truly the most fabulous thing in the world.

That face wouldn't lie.  

Vibrant changing leaves, out of this world wine, tiny French villages (one more charming than the next), fabulous food (and even more fabulous company) all topped off with a big roaring fire.... now that equals THE most fabulous weekend in the world.  So do yourself a favor and add it to your bucket list.  

Let me further explain.  First of all, when I say Bourgogne I hope you know I mean Burgundy (in English).  It is a region in France to the Southeast of Paris, with the capital of the area being Dijon.  We hopped on a TGV train from Paris on Friday morning and anchored in a little town called Beaune (the best city to stay in if you are exploring the region without a car).  Beaune is an adorable little French town all on its own, but the fact that it is only 2 hours from Paris by train and in the middle of the stunning vineyard covered countryside make it a destination not to miss.  Add in the fact that it is considered to have some of the best food in the entire country, and of course the renowned wine, it is a no-brainer.  
Bourgogne is known for it's Pinot Noir and Chardonnay wines.  (I tried to explain a little bit about this in a previous post, but I think now I can explain the wine system a lot more clearly....more to come).   To really get a feel for the area (and shorten the bucket list) we explored the area on bike.  A Fall bike ride through the French countryside, it doesn't get much better than that in my book.  So without further adieu, welcome to Bourgogne! 

As we followed the Route des Grands Crus bike path through the vineyards, we couldn't help stopping every few miles to try and capture everything we were seeing (or technically, I couldn't help stopping and then peddle double time to catch up with the Mr.)  I just couldn't get over how beautiful all of the vines were with their leaves changing colors.  

Our first real stop was the village of Pommard.  This beautiful chateau covered red and green ivy greeted us from the road.

Along with this horse plowing the vines... just a normal day in Bourgogne. 

Once into Pommard, the picturesque little village stood tall with an old stone church dominating it's town square surrounded by a few wineries.  Tempted to stay and get to know Pommard a little better, we made ourselves press forward having decided we would save our wine tastings for the ride back....

 So on we went to our next stop, Volnay. 

Passing vineyard, after vineyard and these beautiful old stone crosses dotting the region. 

Until we reached stop two, Volnay.


In Volnay, there was a beautiful panorama over the valley of vineyards below. (And naturally, a photo-op.)

And then on to town trois.

We could always spot the next village from miles away because the churches steeples towered high into the skyline. 

The Mr. is smiling here because he is blissfully unaware of the hills we are about to encounter.... 

I am also unaware...

After some serious calf work, we finally reached our third stop. 

And spotted another gorgeous French house covered in changing leaves. 

After enjoying the quaint town square in Mersault, we had our sights set on town four (excited to finally taste some of this wine we had been staring at for the past couple of hours).  So we peddled on to the king of Chardonnay and our final destination, Puligny-Montrachet.

And we finally made it to our last village, Puligny-Monrachet.  Montrachet is said to produce the best chardonnay in the world.  So we decided to find out for ourselves.

But first, can't you see yourself in this little French house?  Stone, blue shutters, wisteria, the French countryside....  (btw, a entire post is to come just on the beautiful blues hues of Bourgogne). 

We had totally earned this wine tasting at Domaine Olivier Leflaive on the town square (It is also a hotel and looked great, I would consider staying here if I had a car). 

The sommelier, Simon, gave us a run down of the wine in the area.   I learned that I really like red wine from Pommard because the soil tends to produce grapes with fuller body since it is more acidic and actually redder than soil in the neighboring villages.  We also tried a white wine that we liked enough to buy two bottles of - Bourgogne les Setilles 2009.  The grapes were a blend from Puligny and Mersault and they were aged in a blend of oak and steel barrels giving it a very balanced taste.

I am very excited to announce that I now consider myself a fan of French White Burgundy.... before this trip I wasn't quite so sure.  (Anything associated with chardonnay was not something I was interested in).  I am still weary about just ordering it off the menu because anything oaky and heavy is still not something I enjoy.  But with the right balance, chardonnay from Burgundy can be a true gem.  It would be a great wedding white (if you can find one at a reasonable price). 

Our wine journey had come to an end (but not really because we still had to bike back home).  After 18 miles of open vine, it was seriously the most fabulous day ever.

On the way home we encountered a cookle-doodle-dooing rooster.... 

And a few hot air balloons.

And that about sums up our bicycle journey through Bourgogne.  There is so so so much more to talk about, especially since we haven't even begun to get into the real wine stuff! More to come soon.


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