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Oleksandra Hryhorieva, Drinks+ correspondent located in France, sheds light on the must-visit place in Burgundy for anyone who is keen on learning more about its history and wine culture – The Cité des Climats et vins de Bourgogne.
A missionary project that dates back to 2010, when the idea of a cultural and tourist site dedicated to promoting the history, heritage and wine culture of Burgundy was born. An ambitious project that is truly unique in its concept, as it has three sites at once, helping visitors to discover the region from different locations (Chablis, Beaune and Mâcon) and through different types of activities. A bold project that opened its doors right into the tourist season – in May 2023 – and had to quickly adapt to receiving a large number of visitors. Today I invite you to immerse yourself in the world of the Cité des Climats et vins de Bourgogne, in particular its site located in Beaune.
First things first, how can you get to the Cité des Climats et vins de Bourgogne when in Beaune? It turned out to be very simple: a special bus line – A – runs from the train station (there are several more stops closer to the center) to the Cité parking lot. Thus, the city strives to make the itinerary easier not only for tourists, but also for local residents.
The first thing you can probably admire when you arrive here is the outstanding architectural feat of the Cité des Climats et vins de Bourgogne. Its distinctive spirals, rising to a height of 24 meters, resemble the vines winding around their trellises. However, during my conversation with the Cité workers, I learned that sometimes tourists see these architectural turns as a snail or may have other associations. Well, there is no limit to imagination! What cannot be denied is that the building attracts attention. From the eco-responsible point of view, there are also some things to mention. The site in Beaune is made of bio-sourced materials, using hemp concrete for the construction of timber-framed facades, and locally geo-sourced materials. Renewable energy production and systems’ efficiency are also very well thought out here.
Following the museum’s scenography, you immediately find yourself in a world of contrasts: bright colors of vineyards, soil and wine against a black background. A voice in the audio guide welcomes you to the world of Burgundy. It all starts with the soil. Right here, 200 million years ago, Bourgogne was under the sea. It was at this time that its subsoil was med, and the geological history of Bourgogne began. As you walk along the visitor trail, you’ll learn about the region’s winemaking history, the Climats of the Bourgogne vineyard, classified as UNESCO World Heritage in July 2015, as well as its two main grape varieties – Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. In addition, you will get introduced to Saint Vincent, the patron saint of winegrowers, and the Confrérie des Chevaliers du Tastevin.
The experience that I particularly appreciate is the Cave aux aromes where you can hone your sense of smell in preparation for a future tasting. 12 sensory globes containing 12 aroma families found in wine await you. What is interesting to know is that all the aromas presented here are natural: flowers, coffee and forest floor (sous-bois) are changed regularly; leather and spices require less maintenance.
This contributes to the remarkable intensity and length of the scent. The visitor can then do a blind tasting at the bar to practice their senses and newly acquired knowledge. I had a glass of Bourgogne Côte-d’Or Pinot Noir Bio 2021: rich in red fruits, such as redcurrant and raspberry, with a pleasant acidity that adds freshness. There is also a wine marker that we usually find in aged wines – leather and forest floor. Enjoy your tasting!
Apart from the classic visit, the Cité offers a great variety of experiences: 45-minute workshops of food pairing and the art of tasting, newly added ‘Wine and Perfume’ and ‘Wine and Chocolate’ workshops and a half-day training devoted to the Grands Crus de Bourgogne. All levels are accepted: from amateur to professional.
After a day full of activities, you can enjoy a glass of wine with a suggested food pairing at the Discovery Bar ‘Les Accords’ on the 4th floor of the Cité and get some fresh air on the panoramic terrace while contemplating the vineyards.
Who conducts the master classes? How is wine selected for display in the bar? Where did the idea for the Cité’s building in Beaune come from? And what is the connection between the three sites of the Cité (Chablis, Beaune and Mâcon)? You can find out the answers to these and many other questions in our interview with Chloe Butet, Director of Culture and Communications at Cité, which will be released soon on Drinks+.