Wine tasting in Burgundy

Apr 16th, 2007, 02:21 PM
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Wine tasting in Burgundy

We are spending 5 nights in Beaune in early May and would like to do some wine tasting while we are there, preferably without paying to join a tour. I understand it is different than in California, where you can just drop by most wineries and they have a tasting room with regular hours. Are there any vineyards in the Cote d'Or where you can do that? I've really enjoyed the whites from Puligny-Montrachet and Chassagne-Montrachet I've tried in the past, but of course can't remember names of producers I've enjoyed now that we are going to be there.

We are considering the tasting lunch at Olivier's Table. We will probably also visit either Marche aux Vins or Patriarche in Beaune to taste wines in their cellars (I would appreciate any recommendations as to which is better). However, we would like to visit an actual vineyard or two if it is possible.
Kay_SD is offline  
Apr 17th, 2007, 07:25 AM
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ira is online now  
Apr 17th, 2007, 09:50 AM
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My husband, my father and I did organised two wine-tasting weekends last summer, when my dad was visiting us. We spent one weekend in Champagne and one in Bordeaux. (You should be able to find the trip reports if you search under my name in the period July-August 2006).

Yes, if you want to visit wineries but not join a tour, you need to make some bookings in advance. I would recommend two resources for your research:

- Eyewitness Guide to French Wine
- website for Burgundy wine region, e.g.

We just dropped in to wineries in Champagne, but learned our lesson and made bookings for Bordeaux. In Bordeaux, we booked two tastings a day (morning and afternoon). We were able to book tours in English (my husband and I speak reasonably good French but my dad doesn't). My husband made the bookings for our Bordeaux trip by telephone. It didn't take a long time, but it was spread out over several days because he had to leave messages and then get confirmations. He made the bookings during the week before our trip (3-4 days in advance).

I would recommend a similar approach. Make two bookings a day (e.g. 11 and 3), and then hope for drop-in options or other tastings en route or in the towns you visit.

The Centre de Tourisme or Centre/Academie du Vin in Beaune likely will also offer tastings - winemakers likely take turns offering tastings on the spot. We found one of our favourite wineries in Champagne this way. We enjoyed meeting the proprietress at the Centre de Tourisme and then followed up the next day by going to visit her.

But a word of caution. When exactly are you planning your trip? May 1 and May 8 are statutory holidays in France, and May 6 is the second round of the Presidential Elections. You might find more places closed than open on some days.
Kate_W is offline  
Apr 17th, 2007, 10:58 AM
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I've used a combination of a good tour book-my favorite is the Burgundy book from the Hugh Johnson series which has excellent maps-and the Burgundy sites on the web. The book gives provides good general information and leads you to specific vineyards. Many of them are avaiable on the web or through one of the Burgundy web sites. You can arrange visits or check the hours when they receive visitors. The distances are small and the drives in the coutryside around Beaune are delighful. I like the small villages to the south of Beaune where the views are open and the roads uncrowded. You should also consider the southermost area of Burgundy, Beaujolais, the prettiest part of the region.
RJD is offline  
Apr 17th, 2007, 11:02 AM
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Marche aux Vins has a very nice atmosphere (a cellar with 1000-year-old coffins, a former church etc.). You get a tastevin and then you go self-guided and you find about two dozen open bottles or so to help yourself (the better wines are at the end of the tour). It is a very stylish way to get drunk.

But I would not buy wines there - they are overpriced.

But for a tour - a fantastic experience!
traveller1959 is offline  
Apr 17th, 2007, 05:10 PM
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Thank you all. I can't wait!
Kay_SD is offline  
Apr 17th, 2007, 05:35 PM
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wow maybe we were just lucky or it was offseason (June? I think not) but we just dropped in in three places, one in Chablis (one of the finer estates) where we were offered tastes of seemingly unlimited number of wines at no cost (they just kept opening bottles - want to try diff vineyard same season - same vineyard two seasons chablis vs premier cru vs grand cru? My two 20ish daughters were there and it was thrilling for them to have this opportunity to really see what chablis (or any fine wine) is like at this level. We then moved on to Beaune and drove through some of the towns stopping at a couple of small producers in the cote d'or. (the bigger places were closed for lunch. Only one of the two, the lesser one, charged for the tastings and didnt have any wines that I was tempted or satisfied by. If you get to a town, the tourist office is going to be able to tell you who is open and tasting at any given time, I think. Its a lot of fun. Do your research about who the really outstanding producers are (we got to Chablis too late to even try for Dauvissat, for example)and go for it.
jjkbrook is offline  
Apr 17th, 2007, 08:09 PM
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Two suggestions: the large winery at Savigny-lès-Beaune, which has quite a nice tasting room, and the one at the Château de Meursault. Both are open most of the day; the latter has a small charge for entrance to the huge wine cellar.
Underhill is offline  
Apr 17th, 2007, 10:57 PM
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Some more words on Marche aux Vins:

This is not a classic winery tasting in a typical tasting room where the winemaker will fill your glass.

Instead, yon pay a nominal entrance fee an get a tastevin (which you can keep as a souvenir). Then you go self-guided steps down into a celler. Expect rows of wooden casks lit by candlelight. In the middle of the aisle you will find tables with open bottles of wine. You help yourself with the tastevin. You can drink as much as you want.

You start with three or four white wines, then continue with simple red wines (I usually skip this section). At the end of the celler, there are very old coffins. Kind of creepy atmosphere, like that of an old Terence Fisher Dracula film. Then you ascend another stairway and you find yourself within a former church, also sparsely lit. Again, a very special ambiance.

Here, you will find another 10 or so bottles of the better reds (including grand crus), and again you help yourself with the tastevin.

At the end of the tour, there is a shop where you can buy the wines. IMO, they are overpriced, because many of the visitors will have lost some of their sense when they arrive there.

It is really an experience.

If you are in Beaune, it might be a good idea to visit a "normal" winery as well.

And do not forget visiting Hotel Dieu! (Marche aux Vins is just across the street from there.)
traveller1959 is offline  
Apr 18th, 2007, 12:51 AM
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In Beaune, Nuits-St-Georges, and other villages around there you can taste and buy where you see the dégustation de vin sign. I went over and did this often when I lived in Germany. Just drive around.

For the vineyards, get yourself a good Michelin map and a good wine guidebook. You can find those in bookstores in Beaune.
hopscotch is offline  
Apr 18th, 2007, 03:58 AM
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Does anyone know if any vineyards are at all welcoming to children? We will be in Beaune this June with another couple and 3 (well behaved) children and we'd like to stop in and visit a winery or two unless it would be completely in appropriate with children. They've all been to wineries in the US and generally enjoy it, though US wineries tend to have more ancillary things to do then in Europe. My wife and I have been to wineries Burgundy, Loire, Rhone, etc. however this was before we had any children and really never took note whether there were kids there or if it would be approporate for children.
ripit is offline  
Apr 18th, 2007, 04:21 AM
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