Herald Sun – may 2016

Best things to see and do in Burgundy, France

Susan Gough Henly, Escape
May 25, 2016 4:00pm

VINEYARDS ON THE HILLS OF GOLD

Burgundy’s beautiful undulating Cotes d’Or, or Hills of Gold, beg to be explored. Yet this region doesn’t tout itself to the world like the designer wineries of California’s Napa Valley or even the grand wine chateaus of Bordeaux. In contrast, it is a very secretive place steeped in monastic winemaking traditions, which can make it difficult for outsiders to access.

Cristina Otel from the Burgundy Wine School.

Cristina Otel from the Burgundy Wine School.

BURGUNDY WINE SCHOOL

Enter the delightful Cristina Otel, founder of the Burgundy Wine School. She not only offers a crash course in its precious wines but also takes you all over the Cotes d’Or so that you can see, touch and taste why it is the Holy Grail for wine lovers.

She puts everything into perspective at her delightful atelier in Beaune. Pointing to a large map of the Cotes d’Or she explains how, in the Middle Ages, monks started cultivating vines on land the nobles gave them as a sort of ticket to heaven. Of course, these plots had the poorest soils but, interestingly, the Cistercian monks at Clos de Vougeot figured out that the best wines came from the very land where the vines struggled the most to survive. And, voila, the concept of Burgundy’s revered “terroir” was born.

The hospice at Beaune in Burgundy, France.

The hospice at Beaune in Burgundy, France. Picture: istock