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Guided Burgundy Wine Tours

Hi everybody--we are planning a trip through Burgundy in September and were thinking that hooking up with a private or semi-private tour guide might be the most efficient way to bit some wineries and do some tasting. We have both been to Burgundy before and know a little about wine, so we want to avoid a tour targeted at a novice level. I've located some companies that might do what we are looking for via searching the Internet, but din't really know if they are any good, and wonder whether there are some options out there we are missing. Any advice/experience/suggestions? Thanks!

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  1. Have a look at Arblaster & Clarke's website - don't have personal experience (maybe someone else does?), but they're specialists in wine tours, with walks built in to ensure a good appetite. One coming up in September: http://www.winetours.co.uk/tours/view....
    We're off down there later this month so will keep an ear out for private tours - did you also search this board? I seem to recall mention of a private guide somewhere...

    1 Reply
    1. re: Sue Style

      We were in Chablis last year, and had one day with guiding. We weere using, http://www.aucoeurduvin.com/, and had a very nice experience. Eric, whos been working at several domaines in Chablis, has a vast knowledge about wines. He made arrangments for tastings (at my favorite producers), took us to the wineyards etc. I can highly recommend him. He is located in Chablis, but I think he can do tours in southern burgundy as well.

    2. I have two suggestions for you. I am a guide in the Rhone Valley, and I have referred clients to two places in Burgundy, and got great feedback on both. I have never used them since I already know Burgundy quite well.

      1. Diana Williams,an American, is a former Olympic Athelete and is married to winemaker Alex Gambal.

      She has only longer trips on her website but don't hesitate to ask about 1 or 2 day tours; I know that she is happy to do them. If you write, please tell her that Sharon from Vaison referred you.

      2. Bourgogne Avec Chauffeur
      Some American chef/sommelier clients (And other friends) used them and highly recommend them. Their site looks like they are just chauffeurs, but apparently they have attended wine school.

      3 Replies
      1. re: sderham

        Hello sderham.
        Im going to Alsace this summer, do you got any suggestions on guiding there?

        1. re: jorn77

          Sorry, I don't know of anyone there.

        2. re: sderham

          Diana also helps plan your entire visit, and recommends hotels and restaurants, whatever you need.

        3. The Burgundy Wine Bureau has tours, tastings, classes at all levels of expertise and interest. I would definitely check them out before you hire anyone else. Their staff is very knowledgeable and they seem to be able and willing to tailor everything to your particular interests, needs, desires. Prices are very reasonable, for a partial day, full day, as long as you wish.

          I've used them for special activities when I'm leading my tours in Burgundy. Here's the link to their web site (in English). http://www.burgundy-wines.fr/

          2 Replies
          1. re: ChefJune

            Hi ChefJune-thank you! Just one question (or two)--would we need to select from their represented wineries on the Website, or is there any chance of getting a visit at Colin-Deleger or Jean-Marc Boillot (or are we just crazy hoping to schedule a visit at either of these)?

            1. re: leahknight

              For tastings at wineries such as those you mention, it is best to go through your local wine merchant who can hook you up with their distributor/importers. Those are the folks who can get you into "their" wineries for tastings/tours.

              Those specific ones are not on my itinerary, so I can't personally help you with them.

          2. We love Detours in France! We use them every year & feel that they have become friends over time. Several choices of guides & they tailor to your needs. I like that I can tell them exactly what I want to do (nothing crazy mind you like, "Oh we'd like to visit DRC.") or we can give them a general idea & they'll fill in the blanks. We have done the intro type tours quite a few times when we take new friends & even those aren't boring. We also usually have a few days to ourselves where we do something a little different. You can check them out at www.detours-in-france.com.

            On topic of food, they always have something great on tap. Last year was the Table d'Chaintre. Lovely!

            Jearmy (sp?) Holmes is a great poster on this board for all things Burgundy/wine. He's in the wine biz, so maybe he has recommendations too?

            1. I have not taken part, but some say the "ultimate wine tour" is the Bouilland Symposia in June, led by Clive Coates MW, Becky Wasserman, and Russell Hone.


              Hone also does some wine touring for members of the trade. Maybe he could help you.

              1. I'd always thought that September is a terrible time to visit wineries, because they'd be busy with the harvest and wouldn't really have time to properly receive you. My friends and I tend to visit AFTER harvest when the vintage is already in tanks or barrels. Just my 2 cents

                12 Replies
                1. re: Peech

                  Indeed, several times I could not make a reservation at my fave vineyard b&b's because all the rooms have been réquisitionnées for the vendangeurs.
                  And many vintners are so busy they are incommunicado for half the month in the least.
                  And Peech, always happy to see you post here, anywhere.

                  1. re: Peech

                    Good catch, Peech! I didn't read the OP's statement very well -- the September date didn't register in my brain. Of course, September is not a good time to visit, unless you are signed up to help with harvest.

                    1. re: ChefJune

                      Thank you for pointing that out - do you think this is the case even for early September? We will be in Burgundy Sept 6-9.

                      1. re: leahknight

                        In Burgundy, 2010 the vendange started the week of 13th September and last year it started the week of the 5th of September, with many picking before that.

                        1. re: leahknight

                          The vendange period varies every year depending on many factors including the weather evolution of the year. Sometimes the exact dates are not determined until quite late in the summer since, duh, weather happens.

                      2. re: Peech

                        We were in Puligny-Montrachet on the last 2 days of the vendage in 2008 and found the timing great. There was considerable celebratory buzz throughout the village on the night of the last day of harvest; like what you would expect on New Years Eve - crowds of inebriated workers and cars circling the village with horns honking. It was fun to be an observer to that local culture. Note, however, that we were not trying to get entree to small, exclusive wineries. We stayed at the hotel associated with the Olivier LeFlaive winery and toured both the vineyards and cellars, as well as partaking of the wine & food pairing menus in their restaurant.

                        1. re: masha

                          Would you like to report on your LeFlaive experience? I've flirted with booking the visit you mentioned, room, tour and pairing and would love to hear first hand detailed description of your stay.

                            1. re: mangeur

                              re the Leflaive experience: just returned from a long w/e in Burgundy (and now on the wagon/shock diet for a week...) and tho we didn't stay at Olivier Leflaive, we had the tasting lunch. Our experience was similar to Masha's, so it seems not much has changed in 3 years. The cellar tour is worthwhile, led by Olivier Leflaive (delightful, relaxed, funny, excellent Fedora-type hat) and a lovely Aussie guy - skilfully done to cater for all levels of knowledge and interest. The lunch menu is E25 and ours was patchy - the gougeres to start with were yum, puffed, cheesy and bite-sized, straight from the oven. Decent starter was a riff on jambon persillé but done with tuna, lightly citrussy, not too jellified, good. Main course was [industrial, soft, tasteless chicken breast rolled around something in a pink 'sauce estivale' with overcooked Basmati, and it was cold. Cheeses were excellent, arranged on a slate, 3 different goats, a well-aged Comté, an oozy Citeaux (cf Reblochon) and a Soumaintrain, good and smelly. Choccy mousse was rich and dark but don't do puds much. We took the 5-wine pairing, thinking a) 5 wines would do us nicely and b) the next option, 9 wines, didn't offer significantly more/different than the 5 (and one thing it did add was an Aligoté which seldom contributes anything, except perhaps to a Kir). The wines are introduced by either Olivier, his daughter Julie, or the Aussie or another French sommelier - extremely well done, not burdensome or boring, just involving you in the story of where, how, why the wine is the way it is. Verdict: food's not the thing here, it's the whole visit, tasting, atmosphere. They do a good job. Then you can go round to Le Montrachet just up the road for dinner (didn't have time/enough meals, but our B&B owners, Les Sept Nains at Flagny, close to La Rochepot, love it and rate it highly). And while on Burgundy in general, Ma Cuisine was a highlight: jambon persillé up there with the best: succulent deep pink ham chunks and brilliant green parslied interstices, then an entrecote for my husband (perfect cuisson, & not bad for a French steak - tho' I'm with Yves-Marie Le Bourdonnec who claims that British is best and French tends to toughness becos of the age of the beasts when finished) and a demi-poussin for me. Wine list is awesome and there are even a few good 1/2 bottles and some by the glass. Delightful welcome, would go back any time. And the Beaune Saturday market is fun too - do a raid for picnic provisions and plan a picnic lunch if you're into that kind of thing and the weather is kind in September.

                            2. re: masha

                              Sure. It was 3+ years ago so the details are a bit hazy. And, I confess that I am not that knowledgeable about wines in general or white Burgundies in particular. My husband knows wine, but is more of a red wine guy. We just like getting off the beaten path, into the villages and enjoying good food & drink.

                              The tours of the vineyard and of the cellar were plenty informative for us. Indeed, the vinoculture guide was probably disappointed by the simplistic questions that we asked; but he was very patient and answered them all. The tour of the cellar took us right into the production facility, where grapes were being moved on a large conveyer directly from the trucks in the parking lot; that was one of the pluses of being present for vendage. Indeed, we were invited to climb up on a large metal scaffolding above the vats and use a manual crushing device (picture a hybrid between a rake & potato masher) to participate in the initial crushing of the grapes -- not quite Ethel & Lucy stomping them in bare feet, but still fun to do. That was followed by a tour of the cellars themselves, by one of the senior members of the LeFlaive family, who explained the entire aging & storing process.

                              As to the hotel, the room itself was very comfortable -- spacious, good size with a gorgeous bathroom with lovely soaps etc. As I recall, the WiFi signal was weak, but there was also hardwired Internet available; that's about the most negative thing I recall about the accomodations.

                              As to the food & drink, the package that we signed up for included both dinner the night we arrived and then the paired tasting of wine (14 wines?) & food for lunch the next day. This was probably the most disappointing part of the trip because the food, although not bad, was unexceptional. We much preferred the dinner that we had the second night down the street at Le Montrachet, which was one of the best meals that we had on that trip.

                              Overall, we had a great time and would recommend it. And, because LeFlaive is consciously oriented toward "vino-tourism," going during the vendage is no problem.

                              1. re: masha

                                Many thanks for this. (For being 3+ years from your visit, I'd say that you have excellent recall.)

                                1. re: mangeur

                                  Thanks. I was being apologetic mainly because I cannot recall any of the details of the food served at either LeFlaive or le Montrachet, which strikes me as a flaw for a report to ChowHound.

                          1. We have been guided by Mike McAndrew (http://www.frenchwineroutes.com/) both in Burgundy and Champagne. He is very good at finding and setting up tastings with small producers. His quarterly newsletter about wine, food and life living in Puligny Montrachet is now in a "blog", http://frenchwineroutes.blogspot.com/. The best part is Mike and Maxine are wonderful people.