We knew we wanted to do a wine tour while in Burgundy and we also knew that France has some very strict drunk driving laws – not that that really impacts us because we have a no tolerance rule on drinking and driving ourselves. We needed someone to drive us and someone to coordinate the various winery visits. After a few minutes of Google and TripAdvisor searches we found Discover Burgundy Wine Tours. Robert and Joy are ex-pats who run this shop and were a pleasure to deal with. We opted for the Premier Cru Tasting. This choice had us being picked up at our Hotel (the Abbaye) along with another couple, who were a bit obnoxious (Australians living in Singapore) and driven north to Côte de Nuit to view the Domaine de la Romanée-Conti vineyard, one of the best known Monopole Vineyards in the Region (perhaps even the world). We just viewed – we didn’t taste, unfortunately. There were a handful of people standing along the stone fence taking photos and selfies – this really is a destination in and of itself.
We learned about the geography and the geology of Burgundy – I personally had no idea how small the Region was (in some parts it’s just a couple hundred meters wide) and discussed the history including the former Duke of Burgundy, how the Region fared during the various wars (100 years, French Revolution and WWI & WWII specifically).
We stopped at three wineries and tasted the following at each:
Domaine Michel Noellat & Fils (Vosne Romanée Côte de Nuit)
2011 Vosne Romanée
2011 Vosne Romanée Premier Cru “Les Suchots”
2011 Vosne Romanée Premier Cru “Les Beaux Mont”
2011 Clos de Vougeot Grand Cru
Domaine D’Ardhuy (Clos de Langres Corgoloin – Côte de Nuit)
2010 Premiere Cru “Petit Clos Blanc de Teurons”
2011 Meursault – Les Pellans
2011 Corton Charlemagne Grand Cru La Niger Deiu
2011 Clos de Langres (Monopole)
2012 Chorey-les-Beaune Les Peuillet
Domaine Henri de Villamont (Savigny Les Beaune – Côte de Beaune and Côte de Nuit)
2010 Chassagne – Montrachet
2011 Meursault Les Clous
2011 Corton Charlemagne Grand Cru
2008 Volnay Premiere Cru – Le Ronceret
2007 Chambolle-Musigny Premiere Cru Les Feusselottes
We didn’t buy anything from Domaine Michel Noellat & Fils, but did end up making some purchases from our other two stops. We ended up just getting a single mix and matched case from Domaine D’Ardhuy and Domaine Henri de Villamont.
Our favorite was Domaine D’Ardhuy, equally because of the wine and the woman assigned to walk us through the tasting. Emma was knowledgeable, funny and personable. She’s the type of person that you meet and immediately want to sit and talk to for hours. Domaine D’Ardhuy is a completely biodynamic winery – everything from the vineyards to the cellars. My first run-in with biodymanic wine making was during the International Pinot Noir Celebration (IPNC) a few years ago. We visited a biodynamic vineyard called Maysara – so I knew the basics. Like Domaine D’Ardhuy, Maysara had a charismatic and entertaining winemaker. Emma explained more about the cycles of the moon and how it relates to the harvest and well, everything that you do on the winery.
Around 13h00, between our visits to Domaine D’Ardhuy and Domaine Henri de Villamont we stopped off for lunch at Le Gremelle Hotel and Restaurant. The meal was included in the price of our tour and it was a very acceptable meal. Since we were on a specialty tour, we weren’t allowed to order from the full menu. Our guide, Patrick, gave us three options for a starter and three options for our main and two for dessert. I had a quick peak at the full menu while we were at the restaurant and there were several other items that looked pretty good on the full menu. While I wasn’t wowed by my lunch selection, there were a few other items that I would have loved to have tried. That’s what you get on a tour like this though.
We were given the opportunity to buy up to do a Vintage tasting or add on a nicer restaurant, but we elected to stick with our main tour – the Premiere Cru. The tour itself was 250€ per person and I think it was definitely worth that price – as it included all the tastings, the transportation, the English speaking guide and the lunch. Adding a nicer lunch destination would add 30€ per person and adding on the Vintage tasting the cost would increase by 120€. I love the idea of tasting French wines dating back to the 1960s, but on this trip, I couldn’t pull the trigger. We need to save something for our next trip to Burgundy, right?
Burgundy Discovery was a really good group to work with – starting with the initial inquiry to the pickup all the way through the tour and the drop off. I wouldn’t hesitate in coordinating another tour with these folks again. I’m sure there are several other equally qualified and professional guides in the Region, but why fix it if it isn’t broken, right?