Drawing on over 30 years in the luxury tourism industry in France, Philip’s French roots are Burgundian and the vast majority of family vacations were spent exploring the region. His professional experience in the tourism world began in Burgundy in 1987 in Beaune and lasted for over 16 years where he worked as a tour guide, hotel barge captain and director and commercial hot air balloon pilot providing a background shared by few. Continually in search of unique visits and encounters and thanks to his regionwide network of guides, most of whom are long standing friends of over 20 years, Philip spends his time scouring the region for new experiences and best-kept secrets to share with savvy travelers.
Philip is a regular keynote speaker on conferences addressing professionals on luxury tourism, marketing and specific global markets. He is recognised as one of the world’s leading travel designers for France by some of the most prestigious travel experts in the USA.
Burgundy is, along with Bordeaux, one of the most famous wine regions in the world, but aside from the obvious differences in the grape varieties, terroir and geography, the biggest and most important difference is of the makeup of the vineyards themselves. Here, aside from a few exceptions you are in a world of small producers whose names may not be familiar all of the time, but the unique human encounters that Burgundy offers make it one of the most endearing regions to visit in France.
Burgundy wine country begins just two hours South of Paris with the Côtes St Jacques vineyard in Joigny offering light Pinot Noirs and crisp Chardonnays. As your journey continues South the wines will gain in body and structure, but don’t let that be a reason not to stop in the Northern part of the region!
The most famous of the Northern vineyards is Chablis of course and it is here that we begin our true Burgundian adventure. In the immediate vicinity of Chablis are a host of vineyards that are waiting to be discovered with Irancy, Chitry le Fort, Coulanges la Vineuse and St Bris le Vineux, the only village Appellation in Burgundy that uses the Sauvignon Blanc grape.
A little further South, the village of Vézelay is the most recent vineyard to have obtained their Appellation Village Controlé.
Aside from the extraordinary variety of wines to be discovered in the region, there is also a wealth of historical and cultural sites to complement your discovery of the Burgundian vineyards. The first Gothic Cathedral of France, the last Romanesque Basilica, medieval villages that look like film sets, medieval villages that were film sets! Beautiful chateaux, Unesco world heritage sites, Roman battlefields, World War 2 sites and stunning Nation Parks ideal for outdoor pursuits such as cycling, canoeing, hiking and hot air ballooning, not forgetting incredible restaurants, markets, world class Charcuteries (yes we have one of France’s Gold medal Duck and Prune patés for you to discover!) making Northern Burgundy one of the richest touring areas in the country.
As you head South to the famous Côte d’Or, more stunning Medieval villages are on your route until you arrive in Beaune, capital of the Côte d’Or wine region and home to the famous Hospice de Beaune, famed for its annual wine auctions which started in 1443 and continue to this day on the 3rd Sunday of November. Beaune is a city truffled with wine cellars and visits are possible to see the extent of these, but not so much for the wine tasting itself. The Wednesday market in Beaune is worth spending a morning perusing and tasting the stalls offerings of course, on Tuesdays it’s Dijon market day which is the perfect way to start your day on the Côtes de Nuits, perhaps making a stop at the famous Clos de Vougeot in between tastings or perhaps a spot of truffle hunting.The area is also ideal for biking, ballooning and Hotel Barges offer a wonderful alternative accommodation and travel experience.
The Côte d’Or wine region is split into two distinctive areas with the Cotes de Nuits stretching South of Dijon as far as Beaune where such iconic names as Gevrey Chambertin, Nuits St Georges, Vosne Romanée, and from Beaune Southwards the Côte de Beaune with Aloxe Corton, Pommard, Volnay, Auxey Duresses, Meursault, Puligny and Chassagne Montrachet, a veritable who’s who of Burgundy that will touch the heartstrings of wine lovers across the globe.
But it doesn’t stop there! Next is the Côte Châlonnaise with the rich sun drenched reds of Rully, Givry and Mercurey and then the Vignoble Mâconnais with the distinctive full bodied whites of Southern Burgundy with Pouilly Fuissé, St Veran and Poully Vinzelles heading the pack!
And South again is the wonderful often misunderstood Beaujolais… but that’s for another time!