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News and events around the Burgundy region, Bourgogne Franche-Comté
Stars shine in Burgundy
Hotly awaited this week has been the announcement of the 2018 Michelin Restaurant Guide for France. Top of the list comes Masafumi Hamano (left) from the 'Au 14 Février' in St.-Amour-Bellevue in Saône-et-Loire. Michelin has granted him a prestigious second star in the guide. Japonese chef Takashi Kinoshita (centre) wins his first star at the Château de Courban, as does Sébastian Chambru at l'O des Vignes in Fuissé. Le Charlemagne in the Côte d'Or and Château de Germigny in Franche-Comté have both lost their star.
In a surprising turn of events, Jérôme Brochot who said that he wanted to renounce his Michelin honour last autumn because his customers in Montceau-les-Mines could no longer afford the prices required to adhere to the Michelin standards, has retained his star in his restaurant 'Le France'. Brochet reduced the prices dramatically to about 30 US dollars a head and describes this as the first 'populist' Michelin star (in France) says the Robb Report.
say it with flowers
Château d'Ancy-le-Franc has been glorifying the gardens around the château with spectacular results. The garden on the east side was inspired by the Chambre des Fleurs in the château. Taking four of the pictures from the room, the images have been enlarged one hundred times in the garden and these have been translated into planting with pathways leading to a
There will be plenty more news of events at the château over the following months, starting now with the programme of classical concerts by Musicancy over the summer. At the concerts there is a chance to visit the house and the gardens and see the new additions.
In France, if you want to use your mobile while in the car, drive to a designated parking area, proper car park or private driveway reports Connexion magazine. The Court of Appeal has ruled that a stopped car is still considered to be 'in circulation' even if it is pulled over at the side of the road with its engine off and hazard lights on. This doesn't apply to cars fitted with hands-free sets.
Each year as the St. Vincent Festival concludes, the venue for the next year is announced. Dates for your calendar are January 26 and 27, 2019 and the chosen location is Vézelay, granted AOC status in 2017. Following in the footsteps of Chablis in1976 and 1999, and Irancy in 2016, Vézelay will be the third village in the Yonne to welcome the festival.
There have been vines at Vézelay since Gallo-Roman times at the end of the first century. In the 18thC, the vineyards covered 500 hectares but the arrival of phylloxera in 1884 almost wiped out the vines entirely. By the end of the 1960s, only one or two meagre hectares remained.
More than two decades have passed since a group of twenty or so winegrowers began cultivating vines again on the hills dominated by the famous basilica, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Vinified exclusively in white, the appellation’s one hundred hectares are planted between 190 and 330 metres on steep slopes facing south- south east.
The winegrowers and villagers of Vézelay have secretly been preparing for the festival for several months now. In this wonderful setting, picture the stately procession of magnificent banners and statues making its way through the vines to the summit of “la colline éternelle”, the eternal hill.
The modern negociants
'Burgundy lovers .. may complain about the recent steep price rises for the wines they love so much', says Jancis Robinson, 'but the price of the land that is responsible for them has risen even more sharply. In the last nine years, while grape prices have risen threefold, the price of prime sites on the Côte d'Or has increased tenfold. Burgundy's top vineyards are now so valuable that banks are apparently falling over themselves to lend against them.
In the old days Burgundian producers were divided into growers who made their own wine (good) and négociants or merchants who bought in grapes and wine, made big blends and sold the results under their own label (bad).
But there is an increasing number of newer producers who may not own their own vineyards but make extremely good wine thanks to the network of grower-suppliers. Let's call them the modern négociants'. Find out more...
2018 wine directory
Gear up for Burgundy
Classic car rallies are frequent events on the open roads of Burgundy from spring onwards and the region hosts three events which should not be missed by fans of motor sport.
The first is Classic Days on April 28-29 at Magny Cours now in its 11th year. 2018 features the Porsche 956, particularly the 1982 model in which Jacky Ickx won the Le Mans 24 hour race title and became the racing champion of the year in that class. He will be at the circuit along with the cars which are on loan from the Stuttgart Museum. Track events and activities around it, plus an air display all add to the atmosphere.
Next up is the Coupes Moto Légende at Dijon Prenois, a favourite with vintage bikers from all over Europe. This year it is on June 2-3 and it is sure to attract thousands of leather clad aficionados.
Finally it is the turn of those elegant beauties of the past, the Bugattis, Maseratis, Bentleys, E-types etc. at the Age d'Or on June 8-10. You can mingle in the pit, pick up mementos at the stalls and watch the track action.
reaching for the stars
The Absinthe Trail
The Lonely Planet Guide highlights the rise in the number of small distilleries in Franche-Comté and Switzerland which have sprung up in recent years. The Absinthe Trail has been developed to encourage tourists to explore the drink, its history and unique production process.
Absinthe is an anise flavoured spirit, high in alcohol, which turns white and cloudy when cold water is added. It is not to be confused with Pastis , also anise based, which is a liqueur and always bottled with sugar. Pontalier is the town in the Franche-Comté famous for the manufacture of Absinthe, a drink which has seen a great rise and fall in its chequered history.
The place was chosen in 1890 for the existence of an underground water source used for the distillation process. Then a stroke a good fortune occurred - the soldiers at the nearby Pareuses military camp were given Absinthe to combat malaria on their tour in the Colonies and when they returned, they had developed the taste for the drink. News of this highly alcoholic drink soon spread across France.
Popular in all strata of society, by 1910, the French were drinking 36 million litres of absinthe per year, as compared to their annual consumption of almost 5 billion litres of wine. It became the fashionable drink of artists and writers in Paris until in 1915 disaster struck - a huge furore broke out - it was thought that the spirit was hallucinogenic with the properties of an addictive drug. In that year it was banned in the USA and much of Europe, including France. It was illegal to distil any anise based products until 1921.
Absinthe has been made in Pontalier by the Guy family since 1890 (with the exception of the banned years). Made from botanicals, the flowers and leaves of grand wormwood, together with green anise, sweet fennel and other herbs are used and it can be green in colour or colourless, with a high alcoholic content.
Visit the Distillery
At the Guy factory the beautiful 100 year old copper stills and the huge oak casks are still in use and you can make a free visit and tasting from Tuesday to Friday and on Saturday morning at the Rue des Lavaux distillery.
Two exhibitions have just opened at the Château du Clos de Vougeot around the theme of the St. Vincent festival which is hosted by a different village in the region each year over the last weekend in January. Bringing colour and cheer to the château walls, forty six original posters of the festival dating from1971 will be on display. (Below right you can see this year's
The second exhibition has a more serious note. When everyone involved in the wine industry celebrates the St. Vincent festival next weekend, it is not only a ceremonial event, it is also to give thanks to the patron saint of wine for protecting the vines. Ask anyone in the wine trade what their worst dread is, and the answer is 'phylloxera'.
Back in 1863, phylloxera, an insect native of the eastern USA, notorious for attacking the foliage and the roots of vines, had a devastating effect in Burgundy, in France and in Europe and destroyed some vines completely.
'Peurs Sur les Vignes' is the title of the exhibition which explores the origins and causes of one of the most serious crises in the history of vine-growing and wine production. It also looks at recent advances in viticultural knowledge and how this is being applied in Burgundy, France, and the rest of the world. The University of Bourgogne, the Maison des Sciences de l'Homme and the Jardin des Sciences in Dijon have all participated. The exhibitions run until March 18.
The Oscars of the food world, the Michelin star ratings, are only weeks away and as always, they are a closely guarded secret. The Bib Gourmand however, the Michelin guide to good quality and good value meals has already been published. The criteria of the guide is that a three course meal should cost less than 37 euros a head in Paris and 33 euros per person in the rest of France.
In Burgundy seven new establishments have been added to the list, shown below ** for Burgundy as published by France 3 TV:
Le Chastellux, Chastellux-sur-Cure (89)
See the Michelin starred restaurants
conserving our feathered friends
The countryside of Burgundy is a haven for birds and 187 species are known to live in the region. A new part-works in French is now available for reference describing their habits and habitat, reproduction, the wintering, the migration, the number, the geographical distribution and measures to conserve the species. 'L'Atlas des Oiseaux Nicheurs de Bourgogne' has taken four years of research by 60 ornithologists. A sister publication is in preparation for Franche-Comté.
More on birdwatching...
'The aim, says Jancis Robinson, talking about a new TV series for the new year, 'is to get wine out of its sniff-and-spit tasting ghetto and have it an almost subliminal backdrop to a series of strong stories'. She is talking about The Wine Show which had a very successful first series run last year. Hosted by Joe Fattorini, the second series includes a challenge between the two presenters Matthew Goode and, this time, James Purefoy to choose French wines to go with a six-course meal cooked by Michelin-starred chef Stéphane Raynaud. This is where Jancis comes in, she is the judge, along with Joe, deciding which one of them did the better job. The series begins on January 12 on Channel Five in the UK and is widely syndicated around the world.
Personality of the year
Not so long ago there were three 3 star Michelin chefs in Burgundy but with the pressures of the constantly high standards, two have fallen, hopefully only temporarily, by the wayside. The survivor, Eric Pras at Lameloise in Chagny received the gastronomic personality of the year award justifiably, and according to Tripadvisor, Lameloise is the number one restaurant in France, ranked number three in the world.
Here's a new website for visitors to Burgundy or Beaujolais who would like to visit a cellar for a tasting along the famous wine routes in the region but are not looking for a full blown guided tour. In Burgundy the wine grower may be a one man band or a family affair and as Jancis Robinson points out in her article on visiting Burgundy's wineries, it is not easy to find them in their cellars to pay them a visit, often they are out in the vineyard tending their plants. In Beaune and Chablis the tourist is well provided for with tastings on offer but drive out to Gevrey-Chambertin or Aloxe-Corton and where do you start? Now help is at hand. Rue des Vignerons is a website which tells you of the user-friendly winegrowers offering tastings and cellar visits. There is no fee for their services, book online, preferably ahead of time but a minimum of 30 minutes before you want to go. Some of the tastings are free of charge, and the website gives full details of tours on offer and the prices plus a map and directions. The domaines' wines are often available at a reduced rate too. This certainly simplifies life and assures you of a warm welcome. Above, Domaine Famille Picard, Chassagne-Montrachet.
Burgundy Today Cryptic Crossword Solutions
1. Nevers, 4. Tenant, 9. Noël, 10. Prodigious, 11. Bateau, 12&23 down Burgundy Today, 13. Kilometer, 15. Père, 16. Acts, 17. Reveillon, 21. Exported, 22. Petite, 24. A Rare Error, 25. Dope, 26. Events, 27. Troyes
1. Neo Nazi, 2. Valse, 3. Rupture, 5. Emigré, 6 .Adieu Nell, 7. Trundle, 8. Double headers, 14. Outsource, 16. Auxerre, 18. Emperor, 19. Octopus, 20. Street. 23. See 12 across