BURGUNDY - Best wine-tasting lunch and Best cheese tasting - need advice!
We are visiting Burgundy in April 2012 and staying 5 days (Beaune); our objective is to taste wines and cheese. We have a few visits to domaines scheduled already and restaurants reservations (thanks to all chowhounds!).
I need advice on finding places to taste cheese and the best wine-tasting lunch in the Beaune-Dijon area.
Do try the Domaine Ludovic Belin in Pernand-Vergelesses (10 mins drive from Beaune) for an excellent wine-tasting lunch (www.domaine-ludovic-belin.com). Ludovic is a very generous host with a wonderful sense of humour (excellent English), as well as a wide range of very decent wines made in a more modern style, from NV cremant de Bourgogne all the way to Corton Charlemagne and Corton grand cru.
His partner is the ex-chef patissier at the Michelin-starred Le Charlemagne so desserts will be absolutely first-rate. I remember an ingenious little shotglass filled with whipped cream, tonka bean powder and melted Carambar, a caramel-flavoured kid's candy. I'm not French so the nostalgia angle didn't work for me, but the tastes and textures were absolutely sensational!
Not sure how off-piste I am, but if you don't mind doing this in a restaurant (as opposed to at a cellar/winery like Belin), one-starred Loiseau de Vignes in the heart of Beaune has an excellent selection of 50 whites and 50 reds by the glass dispensed from an enomatic machine, so you can also choose different sized pours depending on how much of each wine you want. You may also be able to lunch in the courtyard if the weather is warm enough.
How many people are you? If you are a couple or not many more, this may be a better alternative as I think domaines like Belin (small independent operations actually run by the guy whose name is on the door!) may have a minimum headcount requirement before they can put on a proper tasting lunch for their guests; I can check with him for you if you like.
The restaurant Ma Cuisine in Beaune is a vintners' hangout and has the standard in food and wine that you would expect of such a place. The very good food is not expensive, the wines always interesting, and the runny Epoisse is one of DH's best food memories. It is our fave lunch spot in Beaune.
I don't know your level of involvement in Burgundy wine. In order to get into the better domaines, a few of which do serve lunch after a tasting and pull a nice bottle or two from the cave, you will have to go through your retailer and he in turn will likely go through his distributor or importer. Tastings at top domaines are very hard to come by unless you buy rather heavily.
We were just there and truth to tell, it's hard to find bad food in Beaune! Of course, the wine will be fine. It's "the local juice!" But "wine tasting lunch?" Maybe not so common. As with most places, the best wines are not sold by the glass. There's a wonderful little wine bar inside Beaune whose name is escaping me at the moment. I can post it for you this evening when I get home to my notes. Had some amazing sweetbreads there, and exceptional wines by the glass.
Ma Cuisine is, of course, extraordinary, but unless you have a large group, I cannot imagine ordering more than a bottle (or maybe 2 half-bottles.
In Puligny Montrachet there are two places that do tasting and some food:
Le Montrachet run by Thierry Gazanges does a tasting by the glass and food to go along:
Olivier Leflaive's place; http://www.maison-olivierleflaive.fr/...
The food will be very good at Le Montrachet and Thierry is really a nice guy and very close to the local growers and producers.