Bonne Annee from Burgundy! - a mid-winter's welcome from DuVine Guide Keith Kleinby Bike tour guru
Its the middle of winter here. The vineyards are full of people pruning off last year's growth, being careful to leave one or two good shoots to bear the new crop. The days are short, and the temperature is hovering around freezing, and my thoughts are turning to... BIKING! And eating, drinking and sleeping too, of course. The warm days will be here in a couple of short months, and none too soon for my liking. Spring is one of my favorite times of year here among the Grand Crus. The spring flowers in the hills are fantastic; there are over 100 different species of wild orchids alone, and some can be found on every spring ride. The work in the fields will continue of course, but the wine in the barrels will be mellowing away until bottling time later in the year. And best of all, our friends in the cellars will have time to show us around and offer some of their finest wines to taste. The sensational vintage of 2009 will at last be in bottles, although we will want to be patient as it slowly matures.
Why not book a spring bicycle tour in France to this lovely region, Burgundy, which I call home? The days will be warm enough to enjoy, although the nights can be brisk. But we can deal with cool nights, sitting before a roaring fire eating Boeuf Bougignon and washing it down with a Savigny-les-Beaune premiere cru. Or how about wild boar, or Coq-au-Vin? And don't forget Oeufs en Muerette, our Burgundian way to make eggs a dish fit for a Duke. We'll have time to visit a few friends, admire stunning views (on a clear day you can see the Alps), ride past enchanting castles, sample the local cheeses (Epoisses, yum!), and of course drink the finest wines in the world ( I may be biased, but I'm right!).
I was out riding today and I happened upon our friend Bertrand Ambroise cutting firewood behind his winery. Those of you who have had the good luck to have tasted his wines know what he can do with the Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes of Burgundy. We don't always visit there, he's a very busy man, but when we do it's sublime. And Bertrand, for all his virtuosity is not the only winemaker in Burgundy; Far from it!
I also stopped at Drouin-Laroze where the holiday atmosphere persists, at least for a while; Christine was busy, so I didn't ask for photos (one should never put an elegant lady in a position not, uh, elegant so the decorations in the entrée to the domaine must tell the story. Come visit when the times are warmer and the lunch, prepared by ma chere amie, is ready to eat!
Let's not neglect eating and sleeping! Chez Simon remains one of the little secrets we keep for our guests. The Chef (ALWAYS capitalized) keeps us excited by his preparations, and Carole, the lady of the house, is most welcoming. I LOVE the fact that one of the best restauranteurs in Burgundy (and in all of France) is married to the cousin of one of my cycling buddies . Not that this makes me in any way lenient in my critique of the food; NON! The cuisine is simply excellent, as you will discover. Its always market fresh, but I remember with fondness (longing?) his St. Jaques poele avec truffes d'ete. Sigh. And the hotels we use couldn't be finer. I stopped by the Cep hotel in Beaune to wish everyone a happy new year (a tradition in France) and I am always thrilled to see the staff. So professional, so, well, perfect.
There is nothing in the world I enjoy more than cycling through Burgundy, a beautiful corner of the world, and I'd love to show it to you. Come visit us soon, or when the weather warms up!
BTW, leave a comment below on your favorite wine from Burgundy and maybe I will take a ride over to the winery and give it a try and post a picture of me enjoying a glass!