Don’t fail to get out into the countryside.
One major mistake novice visitors often make when embarking on a wine-tasting excursion in Burgundy is to miss out on the countryside vineyards and cellars that are generally only accessible by car. Don’t get us wrong: Beaune, the historic capital of Burgundian winemaking, is an absolute must-see, warranting a good two or three days to explore. We would never suggest skipping a thorough visit of this elegant city, whose medieval abbeys established the very treasured winemaking practices and philosophies still practiced around the region today. We especially recommend a private tour and exclusive wine tasting session at the Hospices de Beaune, a 15th-century foundation and former hospital whose colourful glazed-tile roofs and distinctive medieval architecture symbolise the glorious reign of the Dukes of Burgundy. Anyone who professes to be a serious wine collector should also attend the annual Wine Auction at the Hospices de Beaune at least once in their life: it’s quite possibly the world’s most prestigious.
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That said, confining your stay to Beaune or the equally marvellous city of Dijon will unfortunately narrow your understanding of the diverse region, and keep you from getting to see some of its less obvious, and sometimes even secretive, cellars. If you really want to experience Burgundian wine culture and history to the fullest, you’ll have to get out into the countryside. Certainly more than any other wine regions, Burgundy should be decoded with local experts. Thanks to our extensive local network and in-depth knowledge of Burgundy wines, we will make your journey remarkable. We will show you the region’s best cellars and help you gain access to wineries and tastings you wouldn’t likely to be able to secure yourself.
Most luxury wine tours will begin with an exploration of the Côtes de Beaune, which produces some of the world’s most-prized chardonnay wines, noted for their complexity, richness and intensity. Wines from the Meursault, Puligny-Montrachet, and Chassagne-Montrachet appellations produce seven out of eight of Burgundy’s white “grand crus” varieties, making this area particularly coveted by wine collectors. Who has not dreamt of tasting a sumptuous bottle of Montrachet, Chevalier Montrachet or Batard Montrachet in the middle of the very vines that produces these remarkable wines? The rich history of medieval wine-making is evident in the area; monks at the abbey of Cluny and others divided vineyards into small plots they called “climats”, distinctive for their exposure to sunlight, mineral content and other properties. These medieval practices continue to deeply inform the “terroir” philosophies that reign in Burgundy today.
Your private tour of the Burgundian wine countryside might continue with a scenic and thrilling drive around the Côte de Nuits, the region’s most prestigious and beautiful wine-making area for Pinot Noir, and world-famous for appellations including Vosne-Romanée, Gevrey-Chambertin (which itself alone produces 9 grands Crus), Chambolle-Musigny, Morey-Saint- Denis, Vougeot and Nuits-Saint-Georges. You might embark on a tour on board a vintage 2CV car and roam through the area’s coveted vineyards, passing through these mythic wine-making villages. The vineyards here, which extend for 60 miles from Dijon in the north all the way south to the Nuits Saint Georges, generally grow on unusually steep hills, or “cotes”, which gives the wine-making area part of its name. Burgundians attribute the distinctiveness of the exceptional wines and grands crus produced here to their particular geographical conditions. Some of the smallest appellations, prized by wine lovers worldwide, are made here. These include the rare La Romanee, fully owned by Domaine du Comte Liger-Belair, whose vineyards measure less than a hectare—the world’s smallest! Mass production rarely rhymes with luxury and prestige, after all.
A private wine-tasting excursion in the Cote de Nuits would almost certainly include a stop at the Romanée-Conti vineyard, which produces the most expensive wine in the world. The Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, without question the most famous estate in Burgundy, if not the world, responsible for producing some of the globe’s finest Burgundian grands crus, from the single white Montrachet to six distinctive reds (Romanee-Conti, La Tache, Romanée St. Vivant, Richebourg, Grands Echezeaux and Echezeaux). Although not especially easy to access, a private wine tasting or workshop in the midst of these legendary vineyards is a memorable and educational experience in its own right. It is simply essential for anyone wishing to truly understand the vintnering culture of Burgundy.
Another essential stop in the Cote de Nuits area are the castle and vineyards of the Clos de Vougeot, once tended by the monks of Citeaux, who established vilification traditions in the 11th century still prized today. The breathtaking chateau and surrounding countryside are one of the most singularly charming sites in Burgundy, and the history of the region’s winemaking practices comes alive here. It is now owned by the Confrerie des Chevaliers du Tastevin, which brings together Burgundy wine lovers throughout the world. Members gather around festive black tie tasting dinners: this is another must for any Burgundy wine enthusiast.
In addition to these major sites, there are many more remarkable places around Burgundy to explore, including smaller, lesser-known producers rarely encountered by visitors. Embarking on a private wine tour with us will unlock some of these jealously guarded cellars for you, and allow you to meet some of the most acclaimed Burgundian vintners.