The Best of Wine Country
Wine country is an understatement…Burgundy is the mother land of vin, filling Bacchus’s cup since Roman times. The best terroir to grow a perfect Chardonnay and Pinot Noir (the area’s signature varietals) is packed in a sliver of mountain slopes 25 miles long and barely over a mile wide. This means charming villages, historic wineries and today’s culinary elite are all nestled into one petite region for your traveling ease and pleasure.
Where to Stay
Keep close to the heart of the vineyards
Hostellerie de Levernois
An historic country estate along the Bouzaize River and the vines of the Côte de Beaune, Hostellerie de Levernois was a shoo-in for Relais & Châteaux status. This hotel knows how to balance history with modernity, from design to cuisine to hospitality. As if one accolade weren’t enough, the restaurant has a Michelin star and one of the most impressive selections of Burgundy wines, with more than 1,000 bottles for your choosing.
What to Pack
What would Amélie wear while biking the streets of Beaune? Quick-dry shorts? We think not. A knee-length dress that flows from the waist will give you coverage and breeze as you pedal, while looking très chic.
Be picnic ready with a travel-sized wine opener. Its serrated foil cutter will offer a clean slice and even double as cheese knife in a pinch.
A wildly comprehensive wine app made especially for Burgundy oenophiles (and those of us in training), it offers a wine encyclopedia, the who’s who of the 132 elite estates, vineyard stats and a GPS to find and track your wineries of choice.
Where to Eat
The culinary haunts of winemakers, monks and hipsters
Under the stone arches of a 15th-century wine cellar, you’ll find Beaune’s hottest new restaurant. Trendy without trying too hard, 21 Boulevard serves the French classics with a twist--at surprisingly good prices. Four courses for 34 euros, and no cover for the the late-night DJ? Oui, oui!
Abbaye de la Bussière
Forget the museum and learn about the history of Cistercian winemaking over a bottle of Premier Cru at this 12th-century monastery. Choose either of the abbey turned hotel’s two medieval dining rooms; both are run by a Un des Meilleurs Ouvriers chef (aka a gold medalist in France’s foodie Olympics).
Named after the vineyard huts where winemakers would take their afternoon breaks, Cabotte still offers that perfect respite. The region’s winemakers head to this intimate Nuit-Saint-Georges bistro for jambon persille or beef bourguignon and any bottle from La Cabotte’s in-the-know wine list.
What to Do
Take a crash course in oenology
Unlike the wineries of California, where you can just pop in for a tasting, Burgundy’s vintners keep their secret sauce behind closed doors and rarely open them for guests without a guide or appointment. Burgundy Discovery’s day tour offers an excellent intro to this complex wine culture, and gives you access to at least three family-owned domains.
Pedal the idyllic streets of Beaune, stopping at Fromagerie Hess followed by Charcuterie Traiteur Moron to assemble the perfect French picnic. Continue into the surrounding vineyards and find a shady tree for a petit dejeuner.
Go deep into the ancient cellars of the Burgundy Parliament for a diverse tasting of terroirs and a tour of this storied building dating back to Roman times. Once home to the duke of Burgundy and king of France, the maison has been in Drouhin family of winemakers for over a century.
What to Skip
COUNTERINTUITIVE BUT TRUE
This is a pretty Americanized concept that’s caught on in recent decades, but the real Bourgogne drinking experience is still among the bistros, cellars and picnic blankets. If you see the word “tapas”…run.