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Monday, March 26, 2012, Part 1
Burgundy, France

Interested in a Music and Markets Tour? We’d love to hear from you!
Join us on a summer tour on the Amalfi Coast, in Provence, or Amsterdam!

Grand Est, or Great East, is the name of this four-day tour provided for us by the French Tourist Office and the eastern regions of France. We’ve been in a different hotel every night, and last night’s Hotel Philippe Le Bon in Dijon was one of our favorites, with its inviting courtyard (where several of those younger members on the tour stayed up late relaxing and chatting after dinner) and spacious renovated rooms. I understand that the not-yet- renovated rooms were not at all as comfortable as ours – so ask for the upgraded rooms if you go!

If it were warmer we would have taken our breakfast out to the courtyard, but since it’s chilly we’re inside – tucked into a fireplace in the charming breakfast room.

An even larger fireplace in the foyer is big enough to house an office.

We’ve been eagerly anticipating today’s tour of renowned vineyards. Although we’re well acquainted with Bordeaux, we’ve spent very little time in Burgundy, so are looking forward to learning more (and tasting!). 
Laurent, of Wine and Voyages, is our expert guide and takes us first to the grandaddy of Burgundy’s renowned Côtes de Nuit vineyards, Clos de Vougeot. Begun by Cistercian monks in the 12th century, its a fascinating glimpse into the beginnings of viticulture in the area.
Laurent describes some of the characteristics of Pinot Noir, the grape of choice in Burgundy. Of interest to me was that its tap roots go down 40 feet!
Also, that although the volume per hectare is strictly proscribed in order to be a qualified Burgundy, from then on, the winemaker has a lot of latitude, such as deciding whether to put it in oak or not.

How fascinating that the medieval vat-house and presses have been preserved through the centuries!

Laurent tells us the origin of the Tastevin, that unique shallow cup that sommeliers wear on a ribbon around their neck. It was dark in those medieval cellars, and the monks would use a candle and this shallow bowl with convex circles on the bottom in order to see the color of the wine as they tasted for quality.

The elegant celebration hall has been  the headquarters of the Confrérie des Chevaliers du Tastevin, founded to promote Burgundy, since 1945.
Photos throughout the property show gala events – this group of Chevaliers, wine in hand, can sing as well as sip!

We finish our tour in the medieval kitchens, with fireplaces big enough to stand inside.

Sadly, there was no Clos de Vougeot for us to taste, but we did get to sample the vintages of a small producer,nearby.

We enjoy our last taste of Burgundy and a delicious lunch at Chez Guy in Gevrey- Chambertin.
And then on to Paris!