|Finally we are here! I have been looking forward to arriving in Burgundy for many, many months and a chance to sample some of the world's greatest wines, all pinot noirs nonetheless; my very favourite! And I've been saying that way before that silly sideways movie too. That's the best thing about the wines in Burgundy, there is no blending allowed so when there is a bad year, no amount of vintner's trickery can hide the fact, and really the best wines are easily distinguishable. But is there ever a bad Burgundy? That's what I love about France; even the cheapest bottle is great because the taxes are so low and the quality is so high, so who can resist all this fantastic easy flowing liquid from heaven? Not I.
The one thing I did not realize about Burgundy, and the Cotes de Nuits in particular where all of the best are located, is how small it really is. Literally, individual winemakers might own three or four ROWS of grapes (not acres, not fields, rows!), and from this they work their own individual magic. Consequently, there are thousands of winemakers in just a very tiny area; it's murder to figure it all out, but there are some experts out there who try.
Anyway, we took a little tour out of Dijon out into the vineyards and all the little towns. The tour was fantastic! Castles everywhere with little towns constrained by vineyards. When we eventually arrived at the tasting, we were able to taste and buy a wine that comes from very nearly he best vines in the world; I speak of the famous Romanee-Conti in the centre of the Cotes de Nuits. Well, the wine we got to try was from vines that are literally only 600 feet from those of Romanee, and it was just superb. We bought a bottle for only 35 Euro, and here is the kicker: a bottle of Romanee-Conti (if you can even succeed in finding someone to sell it to you, which is the real coup d'etat!) is usually worth over 4000 Euro. For only 600 feet! Now I don't know about you, but I find it hard to believe that there can be that much difference for that much value, but hey it's been that way forever... Nevertheless, I thought to myself, we are so so lucky to be able to get our hands on this, very lucky indeed!
Our stay in Dijon was a short one, but it is really a beautiful city that needs a full flushing out. We arrived by TGV from Avignon, and man are those things fast! There is no time to read anything as the train zips across the beautiful fields, criss crossing the Rhone as it makes it's way northward. Upon arrival, we were whisked away on the above mentioned wine tour which was pre arranged, and later in the day, we were dropped at our beautiful hotel in the town centre called the Chambellan. It was in a 600 year old medieval building which made the stay very "Jean D'Arc".
That night, we made our way over to the Maille store, where the world famous mustard comes from. A visit to the store is a little like going to a mustard museum, as they have many old containers and instruments, and even an old parchment of the royal declaration made by Napoleon granting the company a patent of their product. There were many special mustards that are found nowhere else, and they even refill empties (when you bring them in) from pressurized beer taps!
The next day, we walked around the town and looked at all the medieval buildings that are literally everywhere. Dijon also has a semicircular square with an Austrian looking palace in the centre - really nice. The town had a nice fall feel to it, and with all the great food around, and all the little cafes (that are not very crowded this time of year), the town felt just perfect. Men were busy building the little shacks that would soon become the Christmas market. This is something we are starting to see all over Europe, as people prepare for yet more holidays (they really have a lot here). Later in the afternoon, we hopped on to the TGV once again to make our way up to the city that defines all cities - Paris.