Côte de Nuits
Running southeast from Dijon all the way down to Beaune, this narrow strip of land is, along with the more southerly Côte de Beaune, home to hundreds of tiny vineyards or ‘clos’ producing some of the world’s greatest wines. The great names of the Côte de Nuits include the Grand Crus of Chambertin, Vougeot, Nuits-St-Georges and Romanée-Conti.
From north to south, the Route des Grands Crus will take you through little Marsannay to Fixin where, it’s said, ‘the great wines begin’. Gevrey-Chambertin has more Grand and Premier Cru vineyards than any other commune, so it’s a good place for the serious connoisseur to stop for a tasting, but the 13th-century château and church can also be visited, and vineyard tours are available (enquire at the Tourist Office).
Passing through Morey-St-Denis the road climbs to pretty, hilltop Chambolle-Musigny and then to the famous walled vineyard of Clos de Vougeot, founded in the 12th century by Cistercian monks. You can tour the cellars of the Renaissance château, now owned by the Confrérie des Chevaliers du Tastevin.
From here the route runs via Vosne-Romanée to the bustling little town of Nuits-St-Georges. This is well worth a stop, with its pretty pedestrianised main street, Romanesque St-Symphorien church, bell-tower and wine museum, as well as plenty of opportunities to taste and buy wine. It’s also home to Le Cassissium, a museum dedicated to the blackcurrant liqueur that forms the base of the aperitif ‘kir’ (named for a former major of Dijon).
Before you reach Beaune you could also visit the three northerly villages of the Côte de Beaune – charming Pernand-Vergelesses, with its black-and-gold church spire, Aloxe-Corton and Savigny-les-Beaune. Savigny has an extra treat (for some) in its château, in the form of an extensive collection of jet fighter planes, Abarth racing cars, historic motorbikes and fire engines.