I unexpectedly woke up quite late and had a slow breakfast, nevertheless decided to leave the Gîte around 1130 and head out to Beaune for the day. It took about 40 minutes drive through some of the most beautiful wine growing regions of France. Gently sloping vineyards rolled across the small valley with the patch work of vines, each patch allocated to Grand Cru, Premier Cru or village appellation dependent on the drainage, sun and wind exposures of the specific location. Each bottle of wine being identified as coming from the grape of a patch of vine no more than about 50 metre square. I arrived in Beaune itself during the lunch period which meant that the tourist office was closed for lunch. Decided to take stock and have an espresso in the square just outside the famous Hospice with its coloured tiled roof. When the tourist office opened I went in to ask if there's was any wine tasting courses around. I was directed to the l'Sensation du Vin, which was located in a small road not far from the centre. This was a 1.5 hour course giving a brief overview of the burgundy wine region and learning to assess the colour, aroma and taste of wine from this region. This was so informative; I learnt that the violet colour of a red wine indicates youth, while orange indicates age. Some aromas are incompatible to youth such as prune with youth and flowery with age. I also learnt about the balance of acidity, tannins and smoothness. The dominant grape in this region is the Pinot Noir for the better red wines or Gamay for the less so. I also learnt to taste white wines, Chardonnay being the grape used, with some Aligote. The greenish tinge indicates youth and amber age. Of course there is no tannin in white wine as this is only found in the grape skin, so the balance for white wine is between acidity and smoothness. The Chablis being stored in metal barrels has no oaky taste unlike the others.
After drinking more wine than I have ever drank over lunch the course was over, I then did a little shopping and bought some lovely posters of grapes and flavours of wines for my kitchen wall I have yet own. Then it was time to head back to the Gîte and pick up some fresh bread for dinner. Another slow drive across the vineyards and back home around 1800. Had more cheese, olives, ham, tomatoes and of course wine! Stayed up to around 2300 reading next to the open french doors to the veranda with a cool breeze sending me to sleep.