Wine tasting must do's in Bordeaux, Burgundy & Languedock
We are taking a trip to France next May/June and visiting Paris and Champagne first. It is our second trip to Champagne so we know what we are doing and have organised some special visits and already done the Moets and Mumm tours.
However we are entirely new to the other wine regions of Bordeaux, Burgundy (staying in Beaune) and Languedock (taking a driving trip).
We have plenty of time in each area so wondering what the must see wineries / chateaus are? What wine should we taste while we have the opportunity? Are there fantastic wines that you would pay 30 Euros to taste (have seen this price on one wine shop for the high end tasting)?
Like in Champagne probably one big mass production tour (if such exists there) would probably be good and then contrast with a small producer.
We come from Australia and we like the styles of wine that these areas produce - well at least the Australian equivalents - so looking forward to tasting the genuine French ones.
Thanks everyone for the help,
Dale - the areas are very different to Aus in that the goodies in Burgundy and Bordeaux are usually by appointment only and need some planning. Not certain I have come across many big mass production place in these areas as they tend to be pretty exclusive Chateau on some of the most expensive agricultural land in the world. The areas around the biggies like Mercurey in Burgundy are easier to visit and more casual and IMO a bit more fun.
Languedoc (note the spelling) Is a very large area covering lots of smaller sub regions. How long are you planning to be there for - it sn't really a day trio from anywhere.
Also in my experience few cellar doors charge in France, I found Champagne to be the exception with the big tours designed for the trippers from Paris. That said many Grand Cru houses won't be open to the public without an appointment (and possibly an introduction i.e. Parker or Petrus) so ossibly the only way to sample the top is to pay at a shop or specialist.....although I woud bet they won't be opening the top drops.
The best way to visit the cellars (the good ones, anyway!) of Burgundy and the chateaux of Bordeaux is to convene with your local wine dealer and let him know what/where you are interested in visiting. If you're not sure, ask for his (her?) advice. They can -- through their distributors -- set up some worthwhile tastings for you in each area. Even in Languedoc, the top houses are probably best visited via referral.
In Burgundy (Beaune proper), Domaine Louis Jadot has done wonderful tours/cellar tastings for my groups, but that also has to be arranged through a distributor.
It depends on how rigid you want to be -- in the Languedoc (and the Loire, and most of the Côtes du Rhône, and several other regions), you can just drive down the road, stopping when you see a sign saying "Degustation" or "Vin á vendre". If the tasting room is open, you'll have a chance to talk with the grower or a member of his family -- a considerably more "real" experience than the big houses in Reims (which are interesting an fun, but rather...corporate).