Some friends were excited about my trip and asked which wineries I had made appointments to visit. Actually I didn’t and didn’t want to. It would be a work trip if I have arranged meetings in advance. Moreover, I much prefer to see wineries that I haven’t heard of, there are always nice surprises waiting round the corner!
Most established negociants have tasting rooms in Beaune. A not-to-be-missed is Patriarche for its underground cellar with self-guided tasting using a a tastevin that you can keep. There are also a few independent wine shops that carry boutique, individual labels. I didn’t have any luck in Beaujolais but was glad to find the Jean Foillard Cuvée 3.14 2014, made from 100 years old vines at one of these shops.
While in Beaune, make sure to spend a good few hours at Hospices de Beaune (also called Hôtel-Dieu de Beaune) to learn about the history; and drop by La Moutarderie Edmond Fallot to taste the many mustard flavours, including Pinot Noir!
Restaurants abound in Beaune. Those around the square inside the old city wall are great for people watching but for a few good glasses of wine, highly recommended are Maison du Colombier and Le Bistrot Bourguignon for an extensive wine list, and Le Comptoir des Tontons for organic and natural wine. Caves Madeleine has a good reputation but it was full when I was there.
In case you visit Dijon, Dr Wine is the place to for good one for wine and tapas.
Domaine André et Mireille Tissot even made an Amphore Savagnin. Apart from dry wine, Savagnin can also be made into Crémant (sparkling wine), Vin de Paille (naturally sweet wine made with dried grapes), and Macvin du Jura (liqueur wine made by adding marc brandy to unfermented grape juice).
Another surprise in Jura is a variety called Melon à Queue Rouge, a mutation of Chardonnay that has a red stem. It is planted only around Arbois and just a few producers are making this as a varietal wine, including Domaine de la Pinte.
Only two hours drive from Arbois, Alsace is a totally different world. The architecture, names of villages, wines and to a certain extent culture, are more Germanic than French because of historical reasons. Croissants in bakeries are replaced by bretzels (pretzels in Germany). There are times that I was wondering if I was in Germany or France.
The old town of Colmar is very attractive with traditional half-timbered houses, floral displays and canals, while most Alsatian wine villages, located on slopes or hill tops, are equally picturesque. The region is bicycle-friendly and a hiker’s paradise. I was so excited to have come across a wine festival while cycling through the village of Eguisheim, and ended up spending 3 hours there!
I also attended the Wine and Gastronomy Fair in Ribeauville. 11 restaurant stands were set up where each restaurant showcasing one dish accompanied with two wines. There were music, DJs and revellers were dancing the night away. For an extra fee, wine lovers could sample over 270 wines according to style and grape varieties: Crémant, Chasselas, Sylvaner, Pinot Blanc, Auxerrois, Muscat, Riesling, Rosé, Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris and Gewürztraminer in a separate tasting parlour. Guess where I spent most of my time😀.
The two must-try restaurants in Colmar are L’Un Des Sens run by two sommeliers and Le Cercle des Aromas serving 250 wine by the glass. Le Grognard in Riquewihr has a good wine list and an even better rum list.
The trip was super enjoyable. To see and experience a wine region first hand is the way to understand its wine. We may be familiar with Burgundian fine wine but visiting the villages and seeing people working in vineyards allow us to appreciate the lesser appellation wines. Mingling with locals certainly help us broaden our horizon. Moreover, wine regions are not only about wine. There are history, culture, outdoor activities and of course fine cuisines. Please plan your next holiday exploring wine regions.
Patriarche, Beaune, Burgundy (available from wine’n’things)
Mestre Pere et Fils, Santenay, Burgundy
Christophe Vaudoisey, Volnay, Burgundy
Domaine Michel Voarick, Aloxe-Corton, Burgundy
Domaine André et Mireille Tissot, Arbois, Jura
Domaine de la Pinte, Arbois, Jura
Domiane Jacques Tissot, Arbois, Jura
Domaine Désiré Petit, Pupillin, Jura
Domaine Berthet-Bondet, Chateau-Chalon, Jura
Domaine Ginglinger Pierre Henri, Eguisheim, Alsace
Domaine Zinck, Eguisheim, Alsace
Domaine Jean-Paul Schmitt, Scherwiller, Alsace
Domaine Clé de Sol, Ribeauville, Alsace