Friday, June 12, 2009

The Burgundy wine route

The real reason for coming to Beaune was that it is a major centre within the Burgundy wine region as well as that it is very close to Dijon which is interesting in it's own right.

Starting out in Dijon, we parked and walked into the centre of town past the notre dame.

Legend has it that if you touch the owls foot on the Notre Dame it will bring you luck so I just had to do it. The owl is actually one of the gargoyles and the locals seem to take the legend seriously; we saw other people who were clearly not tourists walk past and have a quick touch.

We happened to arrive on market day and had a great time wandering around buying the odd bag of cherries or some pate,roquefort but mostly just watching the life of the town. Looking at the vegetables on sale it isn't just tomatoes and beans, there are are 6 different varieties of tomato and 10 different varieties of beans not to mention untold types of exotic vegetables; Laurel would be in her element her. We stopped and had coffee and watched the passersby while we listened to some very good guitarists play at the restaurant next door. We even had a display of lewd behaviour from a drunk black guy; sometimes it is better to not know what people are saying. We later saw him sitting next to an ensemble of two violins and a cello who were exceptionally good; even I enjoyed them. The market day is like a mixture of a flea market and a fresh produce market and I spotted Caron taking an interest in a particular table; she just can't keep away from the shiny stuff!

Walking past a shop we had to stop and buy some ginger bread since Dijon is where ginger bread originated from; or so they claim. In the shop I spotted this which is, can you believe it, all mustard.

This photo illustrates a big difference between Europe and South Africa; whereas in South Africa one would find maybe 10 different mustards, here there is a choice of several hundred and it is a combination of having a market that is big enough to support hundreds of varieties as well as customers that have the sophistication to want the variety.

Although there weren't many tourists it wasn't as if there were none and we spotted a worrying sight; just imagine if it became a general trend that tour groups went around on these ...

Can you imagine this in Italy with hordes of Japanese trying to manage these at the same time as their cameras, what a menace!

On the way back to Beaune we took the old road which winds throught the vineyards of the region and stopped in the town of Nuit St. Georges and went to Dufouleur Pere & Fils for some wine tasting. It wasn't very busy so we had the proprietor to ourselves which was great because it was more like a converstation rather than a lecture. The grapes that they grow here are only Pinot Noir and Chardonnay although some blends are Pinot Noir mostly with some Pinot Blanc and Gamay (Beaujolais) thrown in for good measure. The red wines are light and fruity in comparison to the Cabernet wines of Bordeaux but I'm not sure that I prefer one or the other; I think I'll have to drink a lot more to decide.

Now, this is what a cellar should look like!

Back at the shack we spent the remainder of the afternoon reading, drinking wine and eating cheese or pate snacks; how very civilised! What a great day, it more or less made up for yesterday.

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