Posted by: David Stewart | July 3, 2013

The Golden Hills (and stocked cellars) of Burgundy

These are from some notes I took from our Spring 2013 trip

Chateau de La Rochepot

Vine-covered hills beyond the walls of Chateau Rochepot

Wednesday, May 15

St. Romain, Burgundy

The ridge over St Romain

After breakfast we took a Cote d’Or driving tour. We started south and stopped briefly at the Chateau de Pommard and looked at their gardens. We didn’t do their tour / tasting since it was 25 euros and we had another few places to visit.

After Pommard, we drove up to the top of the hill at St-Romain for a terrific view over the vineyards and yellow fields blooming with canola.

Then we stopped at Chateau de la Rochepot. This is a fascinating castle which is privately owned, and doesn’t do a bad job at marketing either. To enter, you cross a drawbridge and known three times on the door. The castle was originally the work of the Rochepot family in the 1300s, but in the Revolution it was turned into a stone quarry for the peasants. In the 1800s, the castle was pretty much a ruin but it was resurrected by a member of the Carnot family and mostly restored as a functional house. There is a self-guided tour which touches various of the rooms decorated in period style. Then there is a guided tour which was nominally in French but the guide gave it in English because there were no French people in the tour. She did a fantastic job connecting with people and giving good information. The guided tour included the weapons rooms, guard captain’s bedroom, dining room and kitchens.

Chateau de La Rochepot

Courtyard of Chateau de La Rochepot

After Rochepot we went to the village of Meursault and the Chateau de Mersault. Aboveground, this is a very nice old country house which has been converted into a top-end hotel. Underground, the tour walks through vast cellars – larger than any we had seen in Beaune. They major here in Chardonnay rather than Pinot Noir, but we tasted both at the end of the tour.

Finally we drove to Puligny-Montrachet for the ultimate Chardonnay experience. We stopped for lunch at  a cafe on the village green called L’Estaminet des Meix. Here we ate Beef Burgundy and I had the village chardonnay, which had to be the best glass of white wine I ever drank. Peach and stone fruit with minerality and salinity. Marvelous.

Chateau de La Rochepot

Chateau de La Rochepot

We had planned to stop at Caves de Puligny-Montrachet, but decided we probably had tasted enough there. So we started driving north again to Beaune and continued north through the Cote de Nuits.

We first stopped in Alox-Corton and tasted wine at a small family winery there, including a Corton Grand Cru for only about 50 euros, and it was quite good. Then we drove north of Beaune through Nuits-St-Georges, Clos Vougeot and Gevrey-Chambertin and finally parked in Dijon. By then the rain was pretty steady, but we decided to check out the center of town. Dijon has a really smashingly creapy old cathedral, the Eglise Notre Dame. It had the most awesome turrets and gargoyles. Unfortunately it was raining hard enough that I really didn’t want to get out my camera and take photos. I’ll have to return some time to see it again.

Chateau Meursault winery

Part of the massive underground cellars of Chateau Meursault winery

Dijon has a very nice walking tour called the Owl’s Trail. It’s marked out on the street with a series of brass markers and takes you through the various sites of the old heart of the town. After an hour or so of walking I was pretty much soaked, so we found our way back to the car and returned to Beaune to get dried out for dinner.

Our reservations were at L’Petit Peradise which is down a little alley in the oldest part of Beaune where the Roman wall used to run. We had a really memorable meal there – Deb had rabbit and I had lamb, and we drank a Joseph Drouhin 2009 Clos des Mouches wine, which we had liked so much in the tasting the previous day.

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