My wife and I have been to Burgundy a few times and feel at home there, as we do in Normandy. People often ask me where to go and who to see, so I finally put together a little list of our very favorites. I’m not particularly worried that my blog will swamp them in requests, so I am glad to share and be able to point folks to this page when they ask in the future.
Avoid the standards
If you read Wine Spectator or the New York Times for your travel advice, you will book a table at Ma Cuisine months in advance. Frenchmen do not eat there until the friends of the owners come in long after the rush. It’s wildly popular and has a marvelous wine list, but provides the arrogance that one would expect when you know you never have to worry about any open tables. The food was reasonably good, but the menus were only written on chalkboards on the wall, so unless you are both a hand-writing analyst and fluent in French, you will be like the roomful of Americans dining with you and ask the server for advice. If you want very good wine, mediocre service and the right to tell everyone in your wine club that you ate there, call them right away. For us, the amazing wine list didn’t balance out the rest.
Simple, yet classic Burgundy Cuisine
On Place Arnot in Beaune, you will find the polar opposite of Ma Cuisine. The wine list is reasonably good, the staff is very friendly and the food is simple, traditional French country cuisine. Le Clos Carnot is one of our favorite restaurants in France. Late one night, we were tasting wines there before heading back to our lodgings and they poured me a delicious wine from Domaine de Mussy. We got the phone number and arranged a tasting the next day.
Le Clos Carnot
Sylvie et Jean Pierre Sigaud
34 place Carnot, 21200 Beaune
Tel : +33 (0)3 80 22 73 43
Fax : +33 (0)3 80 26 91 01
Family Wine-making at it’s best: Domaine de Mussy
In the midst of the small town of Pommard, buried in a side street is my favorite family winery. When we knocked on the door, late for our appointment, Michel Meuzard answered. That is, he came to the door, listened to our French and demurred on saying much. It’s not that Monsieur Mezard is not gregarious and engaging, but having had throat surgery (I believe it was throat cancer) he was trying not to speak much. Once we were in the cave with his wife, Odile, savoring the wines based on three and a half centuries of winemaking in her family (MUSSY), Michel could not contain himself. As we enjoyed tasting his wines, there was smiling, little happy-dances with some tastes and, if memory serves, nearly some singing.
Wine that made Melissa cry
If French wine-makers rode Harleys, Phillippe LeClerc would be astride his hog on any given day. Since they do not, Phillippe took his wild energy and devoted it to making hand-crafted wines of stark beauty. We drove north to tiny Gevrey-Chambertin to taste with Monsieur LeClerc, sitting at wooden tables, reviewing his magazine cuttings and trying to exchange French and English. When Melissa tasted his wines, she was so moved that even our host almost cried as well.
The photos of Phillippe LeClerc tend to be from the era when Sean Connery visited him – both were a bit younger then and both have endured, mastering their craft.
9, rue des Halles
Téléphone :03 80 34 30 72
Télécopie : 03 80 34 17 39
Email : firstname.lastname@example.org
Almost an American winery experience
On our first trip to Burgundy, we drove south out of Beaune, stopping about 50 yards south of town to marvel in how the vineyards pop up in front of you and coat the hills as far as the eye can see. Venturing just a short way down the road (perhaps a mile from the edge of Beaune to Pommard), we found signs leading us to Chateau de Pommard. While you do pay for a tour of the grounds and cellar preceding your tasting, it’s worth every penny. The wines are exquisite. We even shipped a case back home.
Lunch in Monthelie
There are a few restaurants in Monthelie and it makes a marvelous lunch stop. I’d recommend these two:
L’Hôtel du centre
4, rue de Lattre de Tassigny 21190 Meursault
When that was closed one time, we had our lunch at:
1 pl. de l’Hôtel-de-Ville F – 21900 Meursault
Tel: 03 80 21 29 56
I think that while 3 French wineries in a day would be pretty ambitious, it is possible. Better if it’s over two days so you never feel hurried.
My own personal choice would be that one should see the Meuzards at Mussy first, then wander to Monthelie for lunch, returning to Pommard to visit the Chateau and taste there. LeClerc is a bit of a drive up into Gevrey-Chambertin, but if he’s open late enough in the afternoon, you might be able to visit. I think the three represent the vastly different experiences of Burgundy: family, corporate and an expert.
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