How to Experience the Best Wineries in Burgundy

How to Experience the Best Wineries in Burgundy

How to Experience the Best Wineries in Burgundy

Domaine LeJeune is a family winery in the village of Pommard. We arrived at the domaine to be greeted by the winemaker, Aubert Lefas, who was our guide for the tour and tasting. He explained how his wife’s side of the family had owned the winery for 200 years. The winery is a bit unique in that the winery has been passed down through the women in the LeJeune family for five generations. Aubert learned all about winemaking from his wife’s father and stressed the importance of winemaking as a blend of art and science. His daughter and her friend also toured the winery with us. It was fun to talk to her about the wines and her potential role in the winery’s future. Here we learned that at this winery they are petitioning that one of their plots of land be named a grand cru plot, an appellation one step above its current premier cru classification. The appellations have not changed since they were originally named in the 1930s. We tasted a variety of chardonnays and pinot noirs. We also tasted a dessert wine that reminded me of a tawny port. Both my parents and I bought a bottle of the Haute-Cotes de Beaune Pinot Noir from 2015. Our visit at Domaine LeJeune was highly personal and I strongly recommend visiting. Plan about an hour to visit.

My husband and I in the Domaine LeJeune wine cave

Old bottles aging in the Domaine LeJeune wine cellar

Domaine François Buffet (Volnay)

Domaine François Buffet is a seven-generation family winery in the village of Volnay. The Buffet family has been making wine there for hundreds of years and have some of the biggest wine caves in Volnay. We visited the winery on our bike ride through Burgundy. Our guide, Mrs. Buffet, was incredibly welcoming. We started the visit with a tasting of two premier crus, one from 2012 and one from 2008, as well as two other wines. All of the wines were red since Volnay is a pinot noir town. After the tasting, we went into the wine caves where we saw bottles that were over 100 years old. Mrs. Buffet said they still drink the old wines on special occasions, though they sometimes must open two bottles if the first one is corked! I loved the Volnay Premier Cru Clos des Chenes 2008 at Domaine François Buffet so much that I returned the next day to buy a bottle. I would highly recommend visiting for exceptional wine and a very cool tour. Plan about an hour to visit.

Me with one of the owners of Domaine Francois Buffet

Old wine aging in the Domaine Francois Buffet wine cave

The wine cave at Domaine Francois Buffet wine cave

Domaine Rocault (Orches)

My last recommendation is Domaine Rocault, a seventeen-generation (!) family winery in the tiny village of Orches near the more famous village of Saint-Romain. The Rocault family has lived and grown vines in Orches since 1470. One reason I recommend this winery is due to its location. The town of Orches is a beautiful village set on a rocky cliff overlooking the vineyards. The views are amazing and the town is quaint and charming. For our tasting one of the owners, Blandine, led us into a cozy tasting cave that has been there for at least 600 years! We learned there how long the family had lived in the tiny village of Orches. We tasted a few wines from Domaine Rocault, a couple of wines that Blandine’s sister produces, and also a few dessert wines. I particularly enjoyed the aligoté wine which is a little reminiscent of a sauvignon blanc. I also really enjoyed one the premier cru pinot noirs. One interesting fact we learned is that Orches is the only town that grows Gamay grapes and produces rosé wines in the region. We ended up purchasing both an aligoté and rosé. If you are planning a visit, you’ll only need to allow about 30-45 minutes for the tasting. Don’t forget to add extra time to explore the village and soak in the views!

The tasting room at Domaine Rocault

The village of Orches from a distance

The village of Orches

The view from the village of Orches

Other wineries worth visiting

If you are in the larger city of Beaune, be sure to check out Patriarche. I was a little skeptical about this visit due to the high price (17 Euros per person), but it ended up being a really fun experience. It’s a self-guided tour through part of the massive 3-mile long wine cave built below the streets of Beaune. You watch a couple of videos and then step down into the cave where you enter room upon room of tables with open bottles of wine to try in your little silver tasting cup. I didn’t count how many wines we tried, but I would guess it was about 20. You could go at your own pace and return to any that you wanted to retry.

In the town of Aloxe-Corton, we visited three wineries that are within walking distance from one another and you can visit without an appointment. They all had exceptional wine. At Domaine Michel Voarick we tasted only Chardonnays – a premier cru and two grand crus that were very reasonably priced for Burgundy (and the tasting there was free!). Across the road at Domaine Comte Senard, we had an informative tasting of seven wines – one Bourgogne Chardonnay called Ana (which I purchased), one village, one premier cru, and two red and two white grand crus. We also enjoyed our tasting at Château de Corton-André, where the tasting room and wine caves are located in a beautiful chateau. We were encouraged to wander the wine caves by ourselves before tasting a village, a premier cru, and a grand cru of both chardonnay and pinot noir (this tasting was also free).

Lastly, if you make the 1.5-hour drive from Côte d’Or and visit Chablis, make sure to stop at La Chablisienne on the outskirts of town. It was a great place to learn about Chablis and sample a bunch of Chablis wines in their huge tasting room (free of charge). We watched a quick video and then started a tasting with our hostess, who was very informative. We tasted a regular Chablis, three premier crus (including one bottle from 1999!), and three grand crus, including two from the famous Grenouille appellation and one, which we preferred, from the Les Preuses appellation.

Tip: If you are visiting Burgundy (or any European wine region), please note that the wineries almost always require advance reservations and are not open all hours of the day.

One of the best parts about visiting Burgundy is that every winery is unique and it’s not hard to pick up on the different tastes of the wines from different towns, despite almost every wine being made from the same two grapes, chardonnay and pinot noir. While these were my favorite wineries from my recent trip, I have only visited a sliver of what Burgundy has to offer. I can’t wait to go back to revisit old favorites and discover new ones!