Some of our food bloggers at Great British Chefs get invited to taste some wonderful food in wonderful settings. Chris Osburn in particular is one such blogger who’s eaten great food around the world. A few weeks ago he was invited to Burgundy to visit wine vineyards and naturally got to eat some amazing food on the way. Discover more about his trip ….
Blog post & photography by Chris Osburn
Writing about the yummy things in life, I get a lot of ‘lucky Chris’ this and ‘lucky Chris that’. Maybe. But to quote Ernest Hemingway (somebody who lived a much more interesting life than I probably ever will), ‘You make your own luck’. Whatever the case, I was feeling like an especially lucky duck and like I had apparently been doing something right when I recently got the go ahead to spend a week visiting vineyards and wine makers big and small around Burgundy.
That go ahead came via the Discover the Origin campaign: an impressive Italo-Franco-Portuguese alliance united to raise awareness about five of Europe’s 1,873 Protected Designation of Origin products: Parma ham, Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, Port and Douro wines and wines from Burgundy.
My trip was an educational and utterly delicious one, and I learned a lot about what makes Bourgogne wines so special. Essentially, in terms of where’s a good place to plant a vineyard, Burgundy is a luck-filled stretch of land yielding some of the world’s most preferred wines. To this day, many – if not most – of the exact same plots marked off by 11th century monks as good, better, best and ‘OMG you have to try this wine!’ (or, regional, village, premier cru and grand cru as they are officially classified) continue to yield similar results.
It’s all about terroir in Burgundy, or at least that’s what the folks putting the corks in the bottles insist is what makes their grape juice so great. There are even legends of King Charlemagne recognizing how a certain chunk of a certain hill saw the snow melt away a little quicker than other parts of the same hill – and how that might be a smart place to grow some vines. That chunk is Corton-Charlemagne from which only 300,000 highly sought after and usually quite expensive bottles of Grand Cru are still produced each year.
To read about terroir is one thing, to experience it firsthand and tasteits harvest in situ is a delicious other. Burgundy is lilting and hilly countryside with villages sprinkled here and there, vineyards spread all over but still more preserved woodland than you might think. The restaurants (oh the restaurants!) are plentiful, down to earth and amazing. Its a strong contender for any foodie’s holiday plans and a wine buffs dream destination.
At a “crossroads” of Mediterranean influences to the south, continental influences from the north and to a lesser extent oceanic influences coming from the west and a gigantic mountain range (the Alps) to the east holding it all to together, Burgundy is ideally situated to soak up just the right amount of sunshine and rain at just the right temperatures for the two main varieties of grapes grown there: Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Yep, the region is considered by many to be a best of the best for both red and white wines.
Thinking back over some of my attempts to cook Great British Chefs’ recipes, I can see how the right glass of Pinot would have gone down the perfect accompaniment to the Marcus Wareing cheeseburgers I made a few months back. I’m pretty confident as well that I could have picked up the correctly corresponding wine around the corner from my flat (or just about any flat in much of London) for under a tenner.
I’m thinking a burger with Emmental and caramelised onions … a full bodied red but nothing too dear or fancy or aged, just something for (and of) the here and now available at your local. If that sounds more than palatable to you, look for something on the cheap side from Burgundy's Côte de Nuits next time you're shopping for a barbecue and burger friendly quaff.
Whet your appetite? A great resource is www.burgundy-wines.fr offering (in English) plenty of helpful and easy to read tips on food and wine pairings, where to go when visiting Burgundy and more in depth information about the region’s famous wines. Who knows you might get lucky and learn something. Quack.
Blog post & photography by Chris Osburn
Where would you most like to visit if you could go on a food tour? Let us know over on Great British Chefs Facebook page.