Château-Chinon is in the heart of the Morvan region, and Morvan borders on Burgundy – an excellent reason to show the participants in Christmas in Europe some of the highlights of this region of France blessed by the gods, Bacchus the god of wine being the first among them.
So on Tuesday December 9th two buses – one carrying the French-speakers, the other the English-speakers – set off for the heart of Burgundy, its regional capital city of Beaune. But before that there was a detour via one of Burgundy’s top vineyards, ‘Clos Vougeot’, where the participants were treated to a visit of the age-old premises, jealously guarded as witnesses of a venerable past.
It was here that the famous ‘ban bourguignon’ so dear to the local ‘Chevaliers du Tastevin’ was recited.
A little later we stopped off at the ‘Boutique des Hautes- Côtes de Bourgogne’ for some shopping. A considerable number of bottles left the shelves, this time destined for the whole of Europe.…
Around midday we returned to Beaune in the rain for a visit to the famous Patriarche wine cellars. We were amazed to explore these endless galleries where millions of bottles are stored while awaiting their time to leave! Olivier and Malika talked us through the visit and the tasting of four great vintages (two reds and two whites) following an unusual formula called ‘free tasting’. This convivial interlude was completed a little later by an excellent lunch served in one of the cellars – everyone agreed that this meal, punctuated with the famous ‘ban bourguignon’, was one of the high points of the excursion.
Last but not least of our stops was a visit to the world-famous Hospices de Beaune. Burgundy’s ‘holy of holies’ where each year the equally famous sale takes place of the best vintages, whose prices then become the benchmark price for the entire wine profession.
The visitors had the opportunity to admire what used to be the facilities of this Hospice, built to help the poor in times gone by and now beautifully restored. But all good things must come to an end, and around 16.30 we set off back to Château-Chinon for the last episode of Christmas in Europe – the gala dinner!