Tuesday, May 6, 2014

France: Day 4

Day four was by far one of our favorite days in France. We woke up early and ate a wonderful breakfast at our hotel and then hit the road. We spent the first half of the day driving around the region, stopping to take photos, and stopping to taste a little wine.

Upon our arrival to Burgundy the day before, we'd noticed that there was a smoky haze over just about everything and that in all of the vineyards crews were out working and burning. In February each year, the vines are all cut back, the weeds pulled, and then everything is burned. The burning is done to kill any diseases that could attack the vines. Despite the smoke, and the fact that we were pretty much there in the dead of winter, the scenery was beautiful!

The "burning"

The picture below is for my dad...he's a fan of all things tractor and this one was pretty cool. It's built so that it can drive straight over a row of vines...pretty nifty!
Our first wine stop was Puligny Montrachet. We stopped in to visit Julien Wallerand at Caveau de Puligny Montrachet. Julien was kind enough to give us a taste of one of the local wines, while talking us through the region and the different ways that Burgundians classify their own wines. Julien gave us a great list of wines in our price range that he stocks, and ships. Adam and I both agreed that when we get rich (first we have to buy the lottery ticket...) we want to have a job like Julien. He travels around the country tasting wine and when he finds something he likes, he strikes a deal to start carrying that wine in his shop...not a bad gig!

Beautiful bronze statue in the middle of the roundabout in Puligny Montrachet.
Inside the Caveau

Julien's shop had a great map that really helped us get a better idea of the wine
regions in Burgundy, I wish we'd gotten something like this to bring home!
We left Puligny Montrachet and headed on. Our Rick Steve's guidebook had several recommended wine "loops" and so we decided to take one of those.

Our drive took us up to great area that gave us some really nice views of Burgundy. We obviously stopped to stretch our legs and take a few photos.

Check out that handsome guy!

Our last stop before heading back to Beaune for lunch was business that makes wine barrels. You can't go inside, but their warehouse is glassed in, so tourists can stop by and watch as they make the wine barrels. This was such a neat experience and very interesting to see the way the barrels are formed, and burned on the inside.

When we arrived back in Beaune it was definitely lunch time. Some of my parents' good friends had recommended Le Conty, and it did not disappoint! We had a wonderful and very relaxing lunch!

Amuse bouche...it tasted like bruschetta!
I had the scallop and truffle risotto!
And Adam had the lunch special, a steak with vegetables!

For dessert we split the brioche!
I can say, without a doubt that our next stop was by far the coolest experience we had on our trip. I should first say that we have been using Rick Steves guide books for all of our trips. Most of our hotels we have found using those books, along with some other really great places, like the Caveau de Puligny Montrachet and our all time favorite Mischief and Mayhem!

We decided to visit Mischief and Mayhem as our last wine stop before heading to Semur-en-Auxois for the night. Rick Steves had a nice write up on this English couple and we were curious to meet them and taste their wine. As you'll find on their website, Michael and Fiona Ragg moved to France over a decade ago with plans to learn how to make Burgundian wine. Fiona said at the time they hadn't really planned to stay necessarily....but now, over ten years later they've got roots...and vines.

We arrived at Mischief and Mayhem in the afternoon and met Fiona outside the Cellar Door Tasting Room. She walked us out behind their home and talked with us about their vines and owning vines in Burgundy. Talk about a learning experience. Owning vines and producing wine in Burgundy is not as easy as one might think. Fiona described their experience to us and basically gave us a good background on Burgundian wine production and politics.

She and Michael both apprenticed for wine makers before going into the business themselves. And, much to the Burgundian's dismay, this English couple has been producing some really wonderful wine.
Just a few of the Mischief and Mayhem vines (to the left...)
We were lucky enough to taste four wines, three chardonnays and one pinot noir. All were wonderful, but Fiona's guided tour through each wine was what really made the experience for us. Adam and I are novices when it comes to wine drinking and we were able to learn so much from our visit. I was floored by how different two wines, from the same type of grape, produced the same way but just grown in two slightly different areas, could taste so different. What an eye opening experience.

And if that wasn't enough, their tasting room was très chic! AND Fiona used to work in haute couture...basically she is my idol: worked in haute couture for Valentino and left the fashion world to dig in the dirt and make wine...umm yes, I could get on board with ALL of that.
Cellar Door Tasting Room 

Our tour and tasting at Mischief and Mayhem was the perfect way to end our time in Burgundy. After spending a couple of hours talking with Michael and Fiona, we hopped in the car and headed to Semur-en-Auxois. We stayed at an okay hotel in Semur-en-Auxois. It wasn't somewhere we would ever go back to, but it worked for a night and was the perfect place to have a relaxing dinner and re-pack our suitcases before heading to Paris.
Countryside on our way to Semur-en-Auxois

That evening we had a wonderful meal...but we we literally the only people there aside from one server and the chef...
Empty restaurant
Amuse bouche...we still don't know what it was...
but it was weird (even for two foodies)
My wonderful duck with a cassis sauce.
Adam's mignon du porc...also very very good!
A beautiful creme brulee for dessert!

Major props to the server and the chef at this little hole in the wall. Though we were their only patrons they did not rush us through dinner and everything tasted wonderful and to top it off, the presentation was stunning!

After a great dinner we headed back to the hotel to get to sleep so we could pop up early and head to Paris!

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