From Burg Wildenstein on the Danube we had a long drive with a heart-stopping descent on the East side o the Black Forest into Freiburg and from there a rather tame drive to the Burgundy Cotes D'Or region of France. The first 2 nights were spent in a small wine village north of Beaune (Bone). We lost our brilliant streak of clear weather and hit a spell of cold rain in France - a good time to spend down in the dank moldy wine cellars!
The wines of Burgundy are known the world over and the French wring every drop of mystique, prestige and pomp from their reputation. We went to a couple of guided wine tastings and managed to learn a little about wine in spite of ourselves. The vineyards in Burgundy are extensive and climb the mountains and hills in all directions. But the vineyards are not vertical and spectacular like in the Mosel - they are more rolling and peppered with the great wine chateaux like Pommard and Montrachet. We were disappointed to learn that the harvest was already complete - earliest on record due to the hottest sunniest summer on record. Apparently it was saving all its cold rain for us!
The soil is all well drained, and ranges from a chalky rocky soil resulting in "mineral" taste vs. a "Fruity" flavor from richer soil. Confusingly, all the red grapes in the Burgundy Region are Pinot Noir and all the white grapes are Chardonnay (except for a small amount of Beaujolais and Pouilly Fusse is the southern region near Macon). The vineyards are rated into 4 categories with the tippy top 5% being Grand Cru and the next about 10% being Premier Cru (the rest are Village and Regional). We asked (being Americans and engineers convinced that logic should apply to all problems) how the ratings were assigned, how often the ratings changed, who decided etc... They looked at us with shocked expressions and said "Oh they never change... they were assigned in the 1700's" to pieces of property." Oh well - so much for our attempt to understand great wines by applying simple logic. Nevertheless we did a lot of wine tasting and found many reasonably priced wines that we liked very much.