France – Jour 10 – Part 1

Day 3 in Beaune dawned as a spectacularly overcast sky that looked, to me anyway, to be a great riding day.  My perfect conditions are overcast and anywhere between 15 and 23 degrees.  I’m not sure if we made it to 23 degrees – but we were somewhere in there.

Hotel Le Cep – Breakfast

After a leisurely breakfast – we mounted our bikes at a very reasonable 10 am and set off for our next adventure.  Today was a transfer day – so the luggage for all 13 guests, and 2 guides was loaded onto the van.  There wasn’t a lot of room for passengers today – so hopefully I would be able to complete the ride.  Otherwise – it was the roof rack for me!!

 Guide Vincent,  Saint Vincent, and les escargots!

The first stop we had to make was at a wooden statue to Saint Vincent Tournante – the patron saint of vineyards, and also our guide’s namesake (or is that the other way around).  So, naturally – Vincent led us there (the guide, not the saint)… and as if it was a sign… there were the legendary escargots!  Au naturelle!!

Burgundy skies

We continued our ride after this short detour – and soon hit some wide open roads through the vineyards.  Look at those amazing skies!!  Warning – this post is picture heavy with gratuitous sky and vineyard shots!

Proud Vendange (harvest)

As we meandered through the vineyard roads – we came across this gorgeous vineyard owner – who was finishing up his vendange.  How cute and proud does he look?!

More Burgundy Skies

Vincent pointing out the various vineyards on the map

As we rose higher into the hills – we came across this map of the immediate region.  You can see which plots are growing what grape, and whether they are classified as premier cru, or grand cru.

Riding under dramatic skies

These skies look a little overwhelming – but I think they just look stunning.  So wide and open,  with dramatic shades of grey.  They were never really foreboding at all – but I’m sure most people on the ride would have preferred blue skies!

Here’s me – the little caboose.  With the support van close behind!

Fun on the road…

There was always fun and laughter – especially at this comfort stop – particularly because there was no comfort station (i.e., toilets) to be found!!  So, we had to take a little detour…  which no-one minded because Vincent brought out his famous stash of biscuits – he was so determined to get us through the complete French collection of biscuits – we had about 5 different varieties at every stop!

Sorting grapes

Once we were all satisfied… we continued on our way.  Vincent – king of the interesting side stops came across this winery where they were sorting the grapes.  The grapes went through the machine which effectively destemmed most of them, which were then checked over not once…

The second quality check

…but twice… before running over into a vat where they would then go to make beautiful red wine…

Woohoo! At the front of the pack!

We set off again – and I don’t know how it happened, but somehow I wasn’t last anymore!  Woohoo!

We soon made it to our lunch destination- Nuits-Saint-Georges.  Here, we had a choice of our own cafe – so a few of us, including our guide Vincent, went to Café du Centre (which came highly recommended by Adam).

Café du Centre

Who would have thought that this little café, would come up with food like this….

Taglietelli Bolognese

Andrew opted to carb up for this section – and his meal was absolutely beautiful.  Naturally, I was able to steal a taste and can confirm it was as good as any Bolognese I’ve had!

Coq au Vin with Salade Verte

But I was even more impressed with my coq au vin – ooh la la – it was amazing.  The meat just fell off the bone, and was moist and redolent with delicious red wine juices.  It was served with an amazing mound of tender, roasted potatoes and a fresh green salad to complement it.  I was in heaven… never underestimate a French café!

The lunch drop

And some wine…? Don’t mind if I do… not a grand or premier cru for lunch – I think this might be a village wine – but it was pretty good.

Tarte Tatin with Glacé Vanille

Vincent was the only one who had dessert, or should I say – he was the only one who ordered dessert… because most of us commandeered a little taste!!  It’s lucky Vincent is a sharer!

What do you mean it’s raining?

Did I mention that those skies weren’t foreboding…??  Well – it poured down during our lunch – but I think the weather must have been good natured that day, because once lunch was over it didn’t rain at all.  Although… as you can see – Adam was pretty prepared!

Place du Cratère Saint-Georges

Did you know that there is a square in Nuits-Saint-Georges dedicated to the Apollo 15 mission??  Apparently, on 25 July 1971, the crew of Apollo XV officially gave a lunar crater the name “Saint Georges Crater,” in tribute to the novel Around the Moon by Jules Verne. In his story, the crew found a fine bottle of Nuits-Saint-Georges by chance in the compartment provisions, and drank it to celebrate “the union of Earth and its moon”.  I think the people of Nuits-Saint-Georges appreciated it…

So, we’ve had lunch… it must be time for a wine tasting!!  This time we were the guests of the negociants Marchand Tawse.  Negociants actually purchase grapes and then make the wine, rather than grow their own.

Stainless steel tanks

In these very funky looking tanks!!  Do you see the ones with corsets on??

The Marchand-Tawse cellar

Our wine tasting session with Guillaume

We were provided with a tour of the cellars – and in fact – had our wine tasting down there.

Lisa getting some fresh wine straight out of the barrel

It even included a tasting straight from the barrel… you have to love these huge pipettes!

Destemming grapes by hand

We were then taken across the road where a bunch of workers from all over the world were painstakingly picking the grapes from bunches by hand – making sure that only the best grapes made it into the vat, and being as gentle as possible to not bruise the fruit or its skins!  It was amazingly intensive – so some of our people got in there and helped out!  Apparently only a couple of cases would come out of the grapes treated this way…. I wonder how expensive a bottle is???

Flying the flag for Burgundy

Back in the courtyard, Vincent was proudly flying his Burgundy flag – so I jumped in for a quick photo and was rewarded with a Burgundian kiss!

Time to hit the road again – but we were less than 7km from our last stop for the day – just as well after all the wine!!

Some more amazing skies….

We stopped briefly at Château Clos de Vougeot – Clos de Vougeot is the largest single vineyard in Côte de Nuits entitled to the grand cru designation.  The descriptor clos refers to the fact that the vineyard is completely enclosed by a wall.

Clos de Vougeot Vineyards

Apparently, the whole of the Clos de Vougeot vineyard was owned by the Cistercian monks – those clever monks would trade prayers for the highly prized land.  They’re not silly are they??   During the revolution, the land was redistributed…  Vive la revolution!!

 The Château and vineyards – surrounded by the wall

In the middle of these vineyards, sits the original abbey – now the Château Clos de Vougeot.  We would be visiting this tomorrow…

Oops… broke the bike… Kristen’s lovely husband, Barry – carrying it for her

So, for now it was onwards and upwards – literally.   Kristen must have been powering on so hard that her derailleur somehow managed to pop off her bike!!  Oooops… I guess she’ll be walking the rest of the way.  Thankfully we were less than 600m from our hotel… and the van came and got her anyway!

Our suite at Château André Ziltener

We made it to the hotel – a little muddier than usual thanks to the lunchtime downpour that made the roads through the vineyards pretty mucky – but what a lovely hotel.  Certainly the best on our stay so far – Château André Ziltener!!  We managed to score a suite!!  Ooh la la!  Sweeeet!!!  Get it… sweet… suite…

Here are the vital statistics for today’s ride – you’ll have noticed that I didn’t have to get into the van (or strapped to the roof rack) – very happy!

Day 3 route: Beaune to Chambolle-Musigny

Elevation x Distance

Vital statistics:    Distance: 32.4 km    Elevation Gain:  269 m

Dinner tonight was at a local favourite of the Duvine team…  we had certainly earned it!  Stay tuned for the next post…