I am traveling to the Loire for 2 days followed by 2 days in Burgundy and looking for recommendations, especially with regards to wineries to visit.
In the Loire, we will be staying in Chambord and could go as far west as Chinon.
In Burgundy we plan to stay in Beaune and drive a reasonable distance either way from there.
Generally, any good advice to share? Are there any importers/suppliers who are good about setting up appointments? Any must-go restaurants? Any customs or courtesies when visiting French wineries that would be different than America and good to know?
Thanks in advance!
Is this your first time visiting France?
If so, I would say there isn't the same pressure to buy wine like there is in the New World, and many of the wineries aren't set up for it. I've asked a couple of times out of courtesy and it seemed to cause more stress than good will.
In both the Loire and Burgundy (especially the Loire), who you visit will be related to your ability to communicate in French. If you speak zero French, gravitate to the bigger or more international wineries. Huet in Vouvray is very well set up to do tours in English, for example.
Do you actively buy French wine? If so, then lean on your distributors. Any sort of connection through trade channels will result in a better or more special tasting than if you just call them up.
In Burgundy you must eat at Ma Cuisine in Beaune. You must! I had terrible luck in the Loire but I'm sure others in this forum will have sage advice.
Otherwise, build in time to your schedule to get lost. Being on time to a winery is the single greatest courtesy you can honor. And try to see as many vineyards as you can. It took me far too long in my career to realize that that was where the magic happened.
It is my very first time in France! Excited to say the least.
I'm currently as close to zero French as it gets, so that's good to know.
Ma Cuisine is going on the list for sure.
Thank you so much for the guidance!
Agree with Kelli on Ma Cuisine also La Ciboulette and La Caveau des Arches in Beaune.
Loire wineries in Vouvray - Vincent Careme, Bernard Fouquet (Domaine des Aubusieres) and Huet
We had a very cool visit with Peter Hahn at Clos de la Meslier, Ex-pat america via Australia and Paris, small domaine biodynamic
Chinon - Charles Jouget, Couly Dutheil, Caves Plouzeau, Bernard Baudry (watch out for Brett).
Talk to your distributors to help set up appointments through their importers
Charles Jouget - Kermit Lynch
Bernard Baudry - Kermit Lynch
Vincent Careme - Cape Classics
Bernard Fouquet - Weygandt - Metzler
Clos de la Meslier - Rosenthal Wine Merchants
A number of these you don't need appointments but going through the importer will give you a better chance at getting an ITB behind the scenes visit. Even if you don't carry these producers your distributors can still set up appointments. Are you on Seven Fifty? You can see who distributes these producers in your state.