Get to Know Burgundy
At The Slow Road we pride ourselves on getting in deep and up close. If knowledge of a region is power, access is authenticity—and we’ve spent decades forging the relationships that grant us both.
But the road, like so many of life’s great pleasures, is better shared. So allow me to shed some light on Burgundy, B&R’s second home, and still my first and only.
Burgundy: A (Brief) Introduction
Renowned for its wine, food and history, the countryside of France’s Burgundy region ranks among the most beautiful and varied landscapes in the country, laden with thousands of miles of quiet, paved roads—perfect for biking.
At the heart of the Burgundian vineyards lies Beaune, a well-preserved medieval jewel that owes its history and development to wine. Home to the region’s leading wine négociants, Beaune’s foundations form a maze of tunnels used for cellaring wine. Its ancient ramparts have been converted to wine cellars, giving rise to the observation that Beaune is defended with bulwarks of bottles.
For centuries, this wealthy, charming town was the capital of the dukes of Burgundy. Beginning with the Capetian and continuing through the Valois dukes, Beaune was the site of Burgundy’s parliament. Nicolas Rolin, one of the most famous chancellors of Parliament, commissioned the most imposing edifice in town—the Hôtel Dieu (or Hospices).
From oeufs en meurette to boeuf Bourguignon, it should come as no shock that many of Burgundy’s signature dishes list wine as a key ingredient. Other staples, like escargots a la Bourguignon and saupiquet, feature the rich sauces for which French cuisine is well known.
While the region’s wines have provided it with a well-deserved reputation for excellence, its cheeses are not to be overlooked. We’ve included a few of our favourites below.
One of the most pungent raw cow’s milk cheeses, it usually has been washed with Marc de Bourgogne. At its best, it is so runny it has to be served on a plate. The best can be found at the Laiterie de la Côte in Brochon.
L’ami du Chambertin
A pleasant raw cow’s milk cheese very similar to l’Époisses and also washed with Marc de Bourgogne. Created by Raymond Gaugry in 1950.
Amour de Nuits
From Côte de Nuits, this delicious fresh cow’s milk cheese is creamy and very salty. It looks like a young l’Époisses with its orange-coloured rind, but is milder.
Experience Burgundy With B&R
Scheduled Biking Group Trip
To Burgundian locals, time is measured by the season. On our Burgundy Biking trip, it’s by the kilometre, the meal and the vintage. We fell in love with this place 30 years ago and have made it our second home ever since. One visit, and you’ll understand why.DETAILED ITINERARY
One of the most famous wine regions in the world—and one of our favourites—Burgundy’s wines are worthy of their reputation.
A more in-depth introduction to the region’s wines can be found in our Vines 101 series, and a few of my favourites can be found here. But for now, let me introduce you to a choice few selections to whet your palate.
Domaine Michel Lafarge – Volnay
This domaine produces lovely, elegant red wines. They work biodynamically in the vineyards and the wines are consistently good no matter the vintage. They can be difficult to find as they are popular (and for good reason).
Joseph Voillot – Volnay
Another very good red producer from Volnay, the wines here are a little more rustic but are still elegant and age very well. My favourites here are Pommard Pezerolles 1er cru, Volnay Champans 1er cru and Volnay 1er cru Fremiets. That being said, all the wines are good, but these three are my favourites.
Domaine Chevrot – Cheilly-les-Maranges
In an area of the Côte d’Or you probably haven’t heard of before, the villages of Maranges represent the southern-most appellation of the region. The last few years have seen a substantial rise in the quality of the wines; both whites and reds are good here and are an absolute bargain.
Essential Reading: Books on Burgundy
We’ve prepared a comprehensive list of books, that have really opened up the region to us. Find a few picks from our Essential Reading List below, or use the link above to check out all of our selections.
By David Downie
As much a meditation on history and on what it means to be French as a traveler’s account (though it has that too), David Downie’s spirited book is haunted by the Gallic chieftain Vercingetorix (say that 10 times fast!), memorialized in the statue pictured above, and the Gallo-Roman forbears of modern France. On ancient trails through the forests of the rugged , they continued across the celebrated wine country of Burgundy and the centuries-old Via Podiensis on the Way of Saint James.
By M.F.K Fisher
A memoir of Fisher’s years in France in the late ’20s and early ’30s, a time of exuberant discoveries of the glories of French food and French culture.