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Discovering Hospices de Beaune

As a member of the trade, you might agree that discovering Burgundy can be a life-long pursuit. Few other places in the world can you have your right foot in one type of soil, and your left foot in a completely different soil. Clients look to you advise them on vintages, and are constantly asking about the differences between the appellations. And in cities like New York and London, you likely have to respond intelligently to wealthy collectors.

One of the best ways to discover the "secrets" of this very important region is to visit. Book learning can only get you so far, although there are some excellent books. The BIVB web site is an excellent place to begin your education. You can also find some excellent books that describe the geographical reasons for the diversity in the terroir. I remember bringing Anthony Hanson's excellent book "Burgundy" with me on my first trip. It is an EXCELLENT book, yet the size took up half my (tiny) suitcase and it is not yet available on Kindle.  Yet if you read it before, it can give you an excellent introduction to the soil.

Visiting producers is the best way to understand the region, yet knowledge of French and flat shoes are often key requirements.  Cellars are exciting as they are centuries old (one had a 12th century press!) so vineyard boot style footwear is suggested.

A good time to visit is during the third Sunday in November, as there are many trade, press, and consumer activities around the Hospices de Beaune where you can taste the new vintage and observe key trends.

The Hospices de Beaune, a charity auction in which bidders can buy a barrel of wine and customize its maturation (elevage) which makes for a fun and creative experience.

Beyond the educational aspect of visiting Burgundy at this time, it's fun! You can see your colleagues in the trade, savor snails in the cafes, and - yes! --see Burgundians actually dancing in the street - not a typical occurrence.

The auction was created for this purpose over a hundred and fifty years ago, with the winemakers donating some of their land with the purpose of having these vineyards "earmarked" for the grapes to be vinified and later sold at auction to support the hospital.

Curious to know more? You can read several years of my experiences in Burgundy and at the Hospices here.

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