The Day We Explored Burgundy

Trip Start Jul 17, 2010
Trip End Aug 07, 2010

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Flag of France  , Burgundy,
Monday, August 2, 2010

From Cari: We were hoping for better weather and more excitement this morning. Unfortunately, we got neither. Despite the rain, we ventured out to explore a little more of the tiny city of Beaune before our afternoon plans. We had seen a staircase leading up to a park of sorts the night before, and curiosity got the best of us. As we made our way up the stairs, I realized that this was the art exhibit I had been seeing flyers for around the town. I wasn't exactly sure the theme of the show (since I don’t speak French), but I had deduced that it was an art show. What an exhibit! As we were going through the life size garden art pieces, we had to stop to read about each piece because each one got weirder than the one before. (The captions were also in English because apparently it was a popular exhibit?) My favorites/the funniest two were "The Vegetable Kaleidoscope" and the “Bottle of Red Wine.” What made them the best? The captions explaining each of them rocked. I don’t know who thought of them, but they were extremely informative about each piece. Below, I have included each caption word for word: 

“The Vegetable Kaleidoscope”: “Imagine that each of your movements would offer a new vision of the vegetable. The squares in the invisible garden of the human look are reflected in the mirrors positioned on both sides, so as to create the impression of a vegetable kaleidoscope.”

“Bottle of Red Wine”: This is a sensing both unique and unusual. It’s about penetrating the impenetrable, seeing from the inside what one is used to seeing from the outside, this is an unusual journey.”

I thought I was creative, but even I can’t BS like that.

From Cari: After the art garden, we headed toward Musee du Vin, a museum all about making wine. We snooped in the windows and decided that it wasn’t worth the outrageous price they wanted to charge for it. Instead, we went to a brasserie for Croque Madames for lunch. After, Greg hunted and gathered a baguette for our Wine Tour and we headed back to the hotel so that I could change my soaking wet shoes. (Somehow soap had made its way into my shoes, and I was actually working up a nice lather by the time we got back to the hotel.)

From Cari: We waited for our guide out on the terrace. The topic of discussion was whether we thought our driver would actually speak English or whether she would speak “resume English.” Turns out, she really spoke English. Our drivers name was Brigitte, and she was very knowledgeable about the wine scene in Burgundy. For example, she informed us all about the random estate laws in Burgundy. In Burgundy, the wine estates automatically pass from the parents and are divvied equally between their kids. This law makes it so that a field of grapes could have a number of different owners. In fact, each row in a field could theoretically have a different owner.

As we drove through wine country to look at the grapes, we made a couple of stops that weren’t at estates. First, we stopped to take a picture of the most expensive bottle of pinot in the world, which runs for nearly $3000 a bottle. Apparently, Johnny Depp likes to impress with this wine. The reason for the price difference is due to the terrior, or ground. Due to fault lines that run all over the region, a wine produced from grapes from one field will taste different from a wine produced from grapes in the field directly next to it. I enjoyed when Brigitte tried to talk Greg into seeing the difference between the colors of the ground. I noticed a subtle difference (some were redder than others), but Greg couldn’t really.

Our next stop was to look at the grapes from the most expensive chardonnay of the region, which runs $250. Somehow, while still impressive, it was not as cool as the grapes that make the $3000 wine.

From Cari: Our first wine estate was ESTATE 1. The owner (a woman) led us around to look at the estate. She didn’t speak a lot of English, so Brigitte talked most of the time and the woman just agreed with her. We got to look closely at the grapes, and the grapes were already starting to turn color from green to purple. After the tour of the production facility, we went back to the tasting room to sample some wines. The owner picked at least four wines for us to try in an assortment of types, and we each got full glasses of each. It was about this time that I decided I was glad that we had a driver. The wines were good, but we wanted to sample other wines before we made a purchase. The protocol for buying wine from Burgundy is that you buy it directly from the manufacturer, and they only sell to people they know.

From Cari: We continued through Cote de Beaune (which was the region we were in) toward our next appointment. Our second estate was ESTATE 2, and this was very different than the first. We didn’t get a tour of the facility, possibly because it was in their home. The owner’s wife was doing our tasting, and we were in their home. This is apparently typical for Burgundy, but the first estate had a separate tasting and production facility next to the home. I felt like we were sitting at the dining room table. The wine at Estate 2 was not as good as the wine at Estate 1, in my opinion, but was still good. It had a little more bite to it than the first, we were told because of the terrior.

From Cari: Nie Louis, the third estate, was my favorite. It was in Cote du Nuits, which, for some reason (the terrior), made the wines produced here less expensive. The French man that is the son of the owner (and sole future owner) was very flamboyant and had the most intense French accent I have ever heard. Brigitte knew Louis, so we got to go pretty much wherever we wanted. We even got to try a special liqueur that was a plum flavor. It was a “honeymoon” gift, but I wasn’t arguing. It was good, but it was really thick and very sweet. We also got to try a Grand Cru from the estate (a chardonnay), and we liked it so much that we bought a bottle to take with us to Paris. It started to pour down rain as we were running to the car, so Brigitte called and made a reservation at the hotel restaurant for us because we didn’t want to run around outside anymore.

From Cari: The dinner at the hotel was good. It was a gastronomic restaurant. One thing that Europe, specifically France, got right was serving cheese as a standard course in the meal. I am getting really used to it and will miss it when I get back to the States. We didn’t sit around a lot after dinner because we needed to pack up to be ready to leave on the long drive to Bordeaux.
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