A Winter Weekend in Burgundy
One Friday just before Christmas, the SmoothRed office closed its doors for one day and assembled at the crack of dawn at Gatwick departures lounge. We have been spoilt for our Office Christmas party over the years visiting Tuscany, Bordeaux and Rioja, and thus we were excited for the merriment that would ensue on this year’s trip to Burgundy.
Restaurant Le Morgon in Morgon, Beaujolais
When we touched down in Lyon, we were met by two charming guides and transported with luxury minivans. The route twisted through the scenic countryside roads to the Beaujolais vineyards, where the gamay grapes bloom and there are picturesque stone villages aplenty. A hearty lunch of French classics was on the cards, opening with snails and concluding with a SmoothRed favourite ‘iles flottantes’ (Floating Island – foaming meringue floating in custard topped with caramel), all guzzled down with a fruity Gamay.
Full to the brim, and rather sleepy following the lunch we were escorted to our hotel, the 5-star Hostellerie Le Cedre – a perfect base for a festive break as its cosy bar boasts a superb range of cocktails and a crackling fire.
Domaine Joseph Drouhin
After a quick freshen up we headed straight to Maison Joseph Drouhin where we received a lovely welcome by Andrea for a guided visit and tasting.
It was fascinating to discover the historic cellars of Joseph Drouhin, which cover approximately 1 hectare of land beneath the town centre of Beaune. The tour started in the press room from the 13th century which is still in use, but only on few special occasions.
The tour continued in the extensive underground gothic style cellars, where barrels and bottles are kept; you can also discover some roman remnants and learn how they used to hide the wine from the Germans during the war.
It ended with a vertical tasting of their six emblematic wines, tasting both white and red and it was interesting to see where each plot is located in the region depending on the different wine classification.
This was one of the highlights of this amazing weekend and will be remembered for a very long time.
Caveau des Arches
Our first dinner was at the lovely Caveau des Arches, a typical Burgundian restaurant situated in a 15th century wine cellar. As soon as we walked down the steps we felt a lovely atmosphere, the staff were very friendly and attentive, the food and the wine also lived up to our expectations.
Over the different meals we tasted different versions of the Gougères, the traditional cheese puffs, but our favourite had to be the ones that we had here.
On the second day, we were all fresh faced and ready to go on a full day wine tour with our guide Simon. It was time to discover the richness of the vineyards that the Burgundy region offers.
We started with a visit of the cellars followed by a comparative tasting of seven excellent wines from Maison Marchand-Tawse.
On the way to Gevrey-Chambertin, we had the chance to stop by Romanée-Conti, the most prestigious and expensive vineyards in the world.
Rôtisserie du Chambertin – Hôtel & Restaurant
We had a wonderful lunch at Rôtisserie du Chambertin, a beautiful hotel and restaurant in the heart of Gevrey-Chambertin, South of Dijon. We were presented some exceptional local cuisine specialities with a slight modern twist by very attentive staff. A combination of great food, amazing wine and good service in an outstanding location: a lunch to remember!
Domaine Jean-Noël Gagnard
Following on from lunch, our tour continued to Domaine Jean-Noël Gagnard in Chassagne-Montrachet. This acclaimed appellation in the Cote de Beaune wine region is known for its world famous white wine. We had the opportunity to visit the cellars, a few minutes away from the little shop with a lovely tasting room, where we enjoyed numerous tastings of fine, delightful whites.
Cookery class with Adeline Borra
The Cooking class… One of the highlights of the trip! Ideal for foodies like us, we learned how to bake some local specialties while sharing a good laugh and a glass of wine. It was an amazing experience that highlighted the special bond we have as a team.
The last supper! In an amazing atmosphere at Boulevard 21, with vaulted cellars and intimate setting, the food and wine were delicious. All the elements reunited for a perfect last evening in Beaune. The upstairs speakeasy bar with secret access was pleasantly surprising and served great Espresso Martinis!
Halles of Paul Bocuse
Our final day we made our way to the Halles of Paul Bocuse, a famous food market in the heart of the food capital Lyon. Each stall offers local produce and delicacies, from fresh fruit and veg to oyster bars and the finest cheese to offer (especially the truffle cheese). We took some time after eyeing up the Coussin de Lyon (the green sweet the shape of a cushion made with chocolate and marzipan) to indulge at one of the many oyster bars in the hall, with some of the braver taste buds trying sea urchin for the first time, of course washed down with a crisp glass of white wine.
Café des Federations
After leaving the market behind we headed to our final lunch of the trip, A Bouchon called Café des Federations down one of the many cobbled streets in Lyon. We really did feel like a local with the traditional French interior typical in the old fashion Bouchons and a menu that certainly had us licking our lips. The sharing meat platter was slowly followed by a delicious soup before our mouth-watering mains (the black pudding was out of this world) with other great dishes such as Quenelle with nantua sauce and crayfish. One last final toast was had to celebrate the festive season and for those of us with eyes bigger than our bellies dessert was also enjoyed. A great end to a wonderful trip in this wonderful region!