Burgundy is often overlooked by British holidaymakers who flock to the south of France but the region has plenty to offer.
As well as fantastic natural scenery and great food, Burgundy is an excellent destination for wine-buffs. With a history of wine-producing stretching back around two thousand years, Burgundy continues to produce some of the finest wines in the world.
The climate and soil produce a distinctive flavour which is highly prized by wine experts and the region is one of the most terroir-conscious in the whole of France. Burgundy wines tend to be more traditional than produced in other regions of France and many vineyards are family concerns.
Most winemakers welcome visitors and offer tours of their land and cellars. There are plenty of gites in Burgundy situated near vineyards so a trip to at least one local wine producer should be on your to-do list. Many of Burgundy's finest wines are produced in the Côte d'Or region that runs south from Dijon.
The best red wines are produced in the Côte de Nuits district of this region and the finest whites in Côte de Beaune. The most commonly used grapes in Burgundy wine are the Pinot Noir and the Chardonnay for red and white wines respectively.
Other grapes often used in the region include the Gamay for reds and the Aligoté for whites. Some vineyards also produce rosé wines which can be very good and affordable. As well as some excellent red and white wines, Burgundy produces some fantastic sparkling wines.
Much more affordable than champagne, these wines are just as palatable and stocking up on a case or two here is far cheaper than buying equivalent sparkling wines at home. For wine-lovers staying in one of the fantastic rural gites in Burgundy, a visit to the town of Meursault is a must. Surrounded by vineyards, the town has weekly markets selling local wines and prices are extremely reasonable. Wine-makers will happily talk to you about their produce and will be able to advise you what bottle to purchase to accompany that evening's meal.
If you've drunk your fill of wine, the local aperitif in Burgundy is the world-famous Kir. Made by combining the local dry white wine with cassis, this drink is widely served in local cafes and restaurants. Variations on this drink are served all over France but it originated in Dijon several decades ago.