Travel

Touring Veuve Ambal – Crémant de Bourgogne

April 12, 2015

Veuve Ambal Crémant de Bourgogne

The Maison Veuve Ambal was founded in the heart of the Burgundy wine-growing region. Following the death of her husband a successful and prominent Parisian banker, Marie Ambal returned to her native Rully, a small village in the heart of Burgundy. Around this time saw the beginnings of the Champagne method, Marie taking an interest in this created her own Maison in 1898.

Marie, produced both red and white high-quality champagne-method sparkling wines. Following her death in 1929, her grandson Charles Roux-Ambal took over the business, he was barely twenty years old. Charles spent sixty years at the helm of the company before passing the baton in 1988 to current managing director his grandson, Eric Piffaut. Eric greatly expanded the business, while under his leadership, Veuve Ambal became the largest producer of Crémant in Burgundy and has received multiple industry awards.

Owning four estates representing an area of 200 hectares, it is one of the Burgundy regions biggest wine owners. It produces a large variety of white and rosé Crémants de Bourgogne as well as sparkling wines. Crémant de Bourgogne Rosé, Crémant Bourgogne Blanc.

In 2005 the Maison moved from its original cellars in Rully to Montagny-les-Beaune, to be closer to Beaune, the Burgundy wine capital, here Veuve Ambal opened its state of the art production facility. Open to the public all year round, visitors are guided through the process of creating a Crémant de Bourgogne step by step, from grape pressing to exporting the finished product.

The tour gives a very detailed insight into modern wine production and the process is thoroughly explained while you’re looking at the real action. It takes place on balconies overlooking the various production areas of the factory and an excellent audio guided tour is provided in various languages.

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We ended our visit in the shop with a tasting of these three Crémant de Bourgogne.

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 The modern commercial operation at Veuve Ambal is in contrast to the more traditional wineries found in the Burgundy region. However, it is this contrasting perspective exactly what makes this tour so interesting and unique.

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A Traditional Burgundian Lunch

March 29, 2015

The tiny picturesque village of Aloxe-Corton lies midway between the Côte de Beaune and Côte de Nuits. It is the only appellation which has Grands Crus in both red and white. Hidden in the village of Aloxe-Corton you find the Domaine Comte Senard.

In 1857, Jules Senard, great-grandfather of the current owner created the original “Corton Clos Des Meix” vineyard. Covering a surface of six acres, the vineyard has been a monopole ever since. A monopole refers to a vineyard under exclusive control of one owner.

On arrival at the estate we were warmly welcomed by Emilie our guide and professional sommelier. We started our visit with a short tour of the vineyards surrounding the estate. Emilie discussed the estate’s history, the Clos des Meix, is one of the Grands Crus on the hill of Corton. Covering some 2.5 hectares in the heart of the property, it provides a superb view of the vineyards of Pernand-Vergelesses and Savigny-les Beaune. Over the years the estate has acquired rare appellations like Corton Charlemagne, Corton Bressandes and Corton Clos du Roi.

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Discovered in 1913, hidden under the property’s garden, is the 13th century cellar, built by the Benedictine monks of the Abbey of Sainte-Marguerite, it is one of the oldest cellar’s in Burgundy.

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An exceptional cellar, with its several hundred-years-old vaults to visit here was an unforgettable experience.

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La Table d’Hôtes  / The Tasting Lunch

Following our tour of the vineyards and cellar we enjoyed our private tasting lunch in the tasting room. The tasting room, dining room and shop are found in the Domaine’s former stables. The tasting was accompanied by a regional lunch menu of jambon persille which is a traditional ham and parsley terrine followed by the most amazing boeuf bourguignon with potato dauphinoise. With each course came a different wine to taste with Emilie giving a detailed explanation of each one, followed by a plate of local cheeses. To finish we enjoyed the homemade Pain d’Epices (spice bread), made from a traditional Burgundian recipe.

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Having a wine tasting with a meal really enhances the experience and this lovely lunch remains one of the highlights of the entire trip to Burgundy.

Travel

Exploring the Vineyards of Burgundy

March 22, 2015

Situated in the heart of prestigious vineyards, like Pommard, Corton-Charlemagne, La Romanée-Conti, Nuits-Saint-Georges and Gevrey-Chambertin, you will find the town of Beaune, only 45km from Dijon and the focal point for wine tourism in the Burgundy area. Arriving in Beaune our guide for the day Fabien met us off the train to begin our full day guided tour of the Route des Grands Crus.

From Dijon all the way to the wine village of Santenay the “Route des Grands Crus” takes you through the vineyards of the Côte de Nuits and the Côte de Beaune.

Fabien our guide, the son and grandson of local wine makers has many contacts within the most famous wine growing companies of Burgundy. His passion and knowledge for wine was obvious and we hit it off from the start.

 Côte de Nuits

Beaune / Aloxe Corton / Pernand Vergelesses / Nuits St Georges / Vosne Romanée / Vougeot / Chambolle Musigny / Morey St Denis / Gevrey Chambertin

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Our first stop was in the vineyard of Romanée Conti in Vosne Romanée. Wine from this vineyard is among the most sought after, and expensive, in the world. Romanee-Conti is a Grand Cru vineyard site (and corresponding appellation) of the Cote de Nuits sub-region of Burgundy. One of six Grand Cru sites in the village of Vosne-Romanee, the vineyard is the only one to be bordered on all sides by other Grand Crus. Covering just 620ft (190m) across at its widest point, the Romanee-Conti appellation is one of the very smallest in France.

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For me no visit to France is complete without visiting at least one Chateau, so I was delighted the next stop was the Chateau du Clos de Vougeot.

IMG_4911 Chateau du Clos de Vougeot was originally a wine farm, built-in the 12th century by monks from the nearby Abbey of Cîteaux. In the 16th century, a Renaissance style château was added to the existing buildings.

The medieval vat-house and four enormous oak presses are found in the winery.

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In the centre of the little courtyard you find, the Porteur de Benaton, the work of the famous Burgundy sculptor, Henri Bouchard de l’Institut (1875 – 1961).

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Badly damaged during the Second World War, the Château was patiently and lovingly restored over the years by the Confrérie des Chevaliers du Tastevin and their many friends.

Even though the Chateau du Clos de Vougeot does not produce wine anymore it has been a national monument since 1949 and is well worth visiting.

Our next stop was the wine cellar of Moillard-Grivot to sample various wines from the Cote De Nuits.

Côte de Beaune

Beaune / Pommard / Volnay / Meursault / Puligny-Montrachet / Chassagne-Montrachet / Santenay

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In the afternoon we focused on Côte de Beaune and the vineyards of Puligny-Montrachet and Chassagne-Montrachet. Visiting the vineyards gave us a better understanding of the Côte de Beaune.

Our last visit of the afternoon was to Santenay to Prosper Maufoux, found in the heart of the Santenay village, this beautiful mansion-house built-in 1835 by Jacques Marie Duvault-Blochet, who at the time was the owner of the prestigious domaine de la Romanée Conti.

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Here we enjoyed visiting the vaulted cellar dating back to the fifteenth century and enjoyed a wine tasting from the Côte de Beaune.

I hope you enjoyed my day exploring the vineyards, has anyone had a similar experience, has anyone enjoyed wine tours or wine tastings anywhere else in the world? As always I would love to hear your thoughts and comments.

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Travel

My Travel Adventures 2014 – Part 5

March 1, 2015

Our last trip of 2014 was in October when we travelled to Dijon in Eastern France after spending the day in Paris. Dijon is in the Burgundy region of France, the world-famous wine growing region, notable vineyards, such as Vosne-Romanée and Gevrey-Chambertin, are found nearby and the road from Santenay to Dijon is known as the “route des Grands Crus”, where eight of the world’s top ten most expensive wines are produced. The city of Dijon is of course also well-known for its famous mustard, Dijon mustard first originated here in 1856.

We spent a few days based in Dijon, having a base here enabled us to enjoy the city while also getting out and about in the world-famous vineyards.

Dijon, Eastern France

The Musée des Beaux-Arts

Located in the former Palace of the Dukes of Burgundy in the historic centre of Dijon, The Musée des Beaux-Arts in Dijon is one of the oldest museums in France. It is well-known all over the world, due to its huge collections ranging from Egyptian art to the 20th century.

The reconstructed tombs of the first two Dukes of Burgundy, Philip the Bold and John the Fearless are found in the great hall.

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The Owl’s Trail

There is a lot to see and do in Dijon and it’s easy to find your own way around town. Just follow the Owl’s Trail or “Le Parcours de la Chouette“. The trail is named after the stone owl at the Notre-Dame church, La Chouette, the little owl carved on one of the pillars is the bringer of good luck, stroked by countless passers-by. Adopted by the town as its emblem, little gold owls are embedded in the pavement all around the centre of Dijon, you can buy a guide to the Owl’s Trail at the Tourist Information Office. This provides brief explanations of the 22 stops along the trail.

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The Old Town – Rue des Forges

The Rue des Forges is a lovely area full of old timbered houses, quaint shops, and cobblestone streets. It was great to stroll around, enjoy a cake or two and photograph all the fantastic buildings.

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Wine tastings & tours

We did a few tours on this trip and visited several vineyards which as always was an amazing experience. I intend to post more about these tours individually so meantime here are some photo highlights.

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I hope you enjoyed following my travels over the last year, I have had some fantastic experiences.

As always I would love to hear your comments and thoughts, what do you think of the new design and layout of the blog?

Travel

My Travel Adventures 2014 – Part 4

January 11, 2015

Part 4 of my travel adventures in 2014

October – Paris & Dijon, France

In October we travelled to France a country I have visited frequently in recent years. Although I have visited Paris before this was my first time back in Paris for many years so I was quite excited to experience it all again. Paris is one of my favourite cities, it holds a special place in my heart as it was the first place I visited outside of the UK and you could say my love of travel and experiencing different cultures began right here in Paris.

We did not have much time in Paris one full day and night before travelling to Dijon in Eastern France so here are some of my Paris highlights.

The Musée d’Orsay

The Musée d’Orsay is on the left bank of the Seine. It is in the former Gare d’Orsay, a Beaux-Arts railway station. The museum holds mainly French art dating from 1848 to 1915.

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 One of the museum’s giant clocks, inside from the restaurant you can get a great view through the clock.

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The Musée d’Orsay, seen from the right bank of the Seine river.

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The Louvre Palace and the Pyramid.

One of the world’s largest and most visited museums. Even in October the queue was huge so we  gave it a miss.

Walking around Paris makes you hungry so we did as the locals do and went for a baguette. Boulangerie Eric Kayser is a famous Parisian bakery and the queue to buy bread was out the door but luckily they also have a café so we were able to get a table and enjoy the wonderful breads and pastries and soak up the atmosphere.

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 Onto the The Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Paris, commonly known as The Basilica Sacré-Cœur. The basilica is found in Montmartre, the highest point in the city so you get lovely views. It is a really busy touristy area where you can get your portrait sketched and buy the usual touristy trinkets but it is also one of the most historic and interesting neighborhoods in Paris so make sure you explore the steep and cobbled streets around here.

The Basilica Sacré-Cœur

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The next stop was the Montparnasse Tower which is the only skyscraper in Paris. The only floors open to the public for viewing the city are the 56th & 59th floors. One of fastest lifts in the world takes you up to the 56th floor 38 seconds to be precise. The 56th panoramic floor has a covered terrace and restaurant, you then have to climb the stairs up to the 59th floor to the roof terrace which on a clear day you can see up to 40km away. It offers a spectacular view of Paris and especially the Eiffel Tower which you can’t miss as Montparnasse is directly opposite.

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The Eiffel Tower from Montparnasse

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A view of the roofs, avenues and monuments of Paris from Montparnasse.

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We just had enough time before it started to get dark to visit the Cathedral of Notre-Dame de Paris. A masterpiece of Gothic architecture, it is the most visited monument in France and no visit to Paris is complete without visiting here.

The Western Facade of the Notre-Dame

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The Eiffel Tower

Saving the best for last we visited the Eiffel Tower, Paris’s most famous symbol. It was just getting dark and we got there in plenty time for the Illuminations. Every evening, the Eiffel Tower lights up with its golden covering and sparkles for 5 minutes every hour on the hour, while its beacon shines over Paris.

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I hope you enjoy my short video of the illuminations below, it really was breathtaking and magical.

We finished off a fantastic day with a wonderful meal. As usual it was not long enough but I am sure I will be back in Paris again very soon.

(Just incase you are wondering why I did not feature shopping in Paris it was because we visited on a Sunday and it is normal to find all the shops are closed not just in Paris but all over France on Sunday’s.)

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I hope you enjoyed my day in Paris. Where was the first place you visited?  What is your favourite city and does anywhere hold a special place in your heart? As always I would love to hear your thoughts and comments.

Join me again soon for my last travel adventure of the year in Dijon the capital of the Burgundy region of France.

Travel

My Travel Adventures – 2014 Part 3

January 3, 2015

Part 3 of my travel adventures in 2014

August- The Highlands of Scotland

Crossing the Skye bridge over to Kyle of Lochalsh we travelled on to Plockton the very pretty village on the shores of Loch Carron. An idyllic place it is a haven for tourists and artists. Plockton was mainly a fishing and crofting village and while the village is no longer dependent on this, the sea still plays an important role, with many local people owning a boat.

Plockton at low tide

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The famous Palm Tree’s.

The village faces east, away from the prevailing winds, which together with the North Atlantic Drift gives it a mild climate.

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Locally caught shellfish

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Plockton Bay

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Eilean Donan Castle at Dornie is one of the most iconic images of Scotland.

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Situated on an island at the point where three sea lochs meet, and surrounded by some majestic scenery (can you spot the heather on the hills in the background) it is one of the most visited and premium tourist attractions in the Scottish highlands.

You can wander round most of the fabulous internal rooms of the castle viewing period furniture, Jacobean artefacts, displays of weapons and fine art. Guides are on hand inside the castle to answer any questions, you can even have a wedding inside the beautiful banqueting hall.

It has a lovely visitor centre with tourist information, shops and a café but it also has plenty of picnic benches outside so if you are ever visiting the castle bring a picnic and enjoy the beautiful views towards the castle.

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Highlands cows at the very quaint crofting village of Duirnish. Duirnish is between Kyle of Lochalsh and Plockton.

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Kintail Northwest Highlands

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Hope you enjoyed this stunningly beautiful part of the Highlands, see you tomorrow for my Autumn adventure when I visit France.