bourgogne, an eastern region in france, is most known for it’s “Route des Grands Cru” – a large stretch of road that winds in between vineyards producing some of the best wines in the world, and only 3% of the wines in france. our first stop was Beaune, a small city that holds a famous wine auction once a year at one of the oldest hospitals in France…
Hotel-Dieu (les hospices de Beaune)
on the third Sunday of November each year, the town is crammed with vendors selling cheese, truffles, salami, nougat, oysters, snails and of course, wine. in the afternoon, everyone gathers at the Hotel-Dieu for one of those most charitable events of the year, an auction called ”La Vente des Vin’s” – which raised 13.5 million euros [$16m] this year!
this medival hospital has a long history of chartiable events. in a time of war and famine, many hospitals in france couldn’t support themselves financially, leaving some of the poorest of the poor without care. thanks to a large donor, the hospice was able to start healing the sick free of charge – and also cooked meals for local residents as well. over the years, the hotel-dieu has received many donations, including small-medium plots of vineyards.
on our last day in Beaune, we popped over to the Hotel-Dieu for a visit. this hospital-now-musuem operated for the past four centuries. the museum offers a free audio-guide tour of the hospital rooms containing beds, an old pharmacy and an enormous painting dating back to the (1400s!) 15th century. the creepiest tool we saw here was a a hand drill they would use to drill into the skull to see a patients brain – i’ll spare you from the creepy photos!
Route des Grands Crus
Bourgogne is known for many types of wines, but specifically chardonnay, pinot-noir, beaujolais and chablis wines. here in bourgogne, wine is classified unlike anywhere else in france. wine is classified in four different categories:
Bourgogne: least expensive, with no knowledge where it’s from in the region
Village: a bit more expensive, from a particular area (or village) in the region
Premier Cru: from a single vineyard in certain special villages; believed to produce the second best quality of wine
Grand Cru: from the best single vineyards and also the most expensive wines
the best wines, premier cru and grand cru, are revered for the flavor. these wines are grown on the best land that
sits on the sides of hills where they receive the most nutrients and as well as the best sunlight.