Tour France: Burgundy, France and Wine: An Inseparable History

The Burgundy region is ancient, stunning, and rich with history.

The Burgundy region is ancient, stunning, and rich with history.

Burgundy, the “Bourgogne” region of France, has been known for centuries for its incredible wines. But when the Burgundians, the nomadic Scandinavian tribe that gave the region its name, first settled the area, they remained unaware of the territory’s great potential.

This changed when the Romans took over the region in the 3rd century BC. Suddenly, vineyards started popping up everywhere. The Romans specialized in a fermented grape concentrate that was then diluted and flavored with water, honey, and herbs. The popular drink became synonymous with the region- Thank you, Romans! Even when they left and the region was taken over by Christians, the new owners merely converted the vineyards into another moneymaking process for abbeys and monasteries. After all, wine was necessary for taking the Sacrament!

Thankfully, these monasteries and abbeys also specialized in the written word–copying Bibles, manuscripts, and many numbers of important documents for posterity. Thus, the details of the vinification process were saved and passed on to the next wine growers in the area. Vital tips, methods, and experiments were dispersed through the region to maintain the distinctive tastes and excellent quality wines that are still enjoyed today. Many of these abbeys still operate vineyards today, and those touring France are often oblivious to these national treasures. Bliss Travels visits (and tastes) with gusto–because shouldn’t such a time-honored tradition be properly revered?

One of the most famous wine-growing regions in the world- for good reason!

One of the most famous wine-growing regions in the world- for good reason!

At the time, the Cistercians, the major religious group in Burgundy and thus the largest wine producer, knew that production costs would skyrocket if they finished the vinification process for all their separate vineyards in the same place. Therefore, they created cellars near each separate growing area, where the wines were processed and aged appropriately. Eventually, each vineyard region began to have recognizable characteristics. The Cistercian cheapness of the Middle Ages is the reason that we appreciate the different wine tastes today!

Because of this, we can now fully appreciate unique wines such Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and all the more specific wines that have stemmed from these grape godfathers. Curious about the wines of the region? Thankfully, Bliss Travels does gourmet wine tours to the Burgundy region where we indulge in the fruits of the Romans’ labor. In the meantime, check out some of our favorites Burgundy wines from the Cote de Beaune and Cote de Nuits. We treat you to Grand Cru and 1er Cru treasures!

If reading about them simply isn’t enough, come with us in September  for a insider’s look at the world of wine in Paris and Burgundy. Check out the video of one of our last trips to Burgundy right here! Sip the best wines in the world in 800 year old cellars, abbeys and monasteries, and private farms with stunning views of the French countryside. Pure Bliss!

In Burgundy, there are no wrong choices!

In Burgundy, there are no wrong choices!

A Bientot-

Bliss Travels

October in Provence and Chateauneuf du Pape

Bliss Travels
609 462 6213
Bliss Travels News (Blog)
Welcome to the Bliss Travels Newsletter
Bonjour from France!

Summer is in full swing and we have some exciting photographs to share. Don’t miss our October trip to Paris and Provence, where we will highlight Chateauneuf du Pape, fall foliage and the beautiful Luberon region of Provence. Photographer Anthony Bianciella will once again partner with us on our exciting adventure. Off the beaten track, insider experiences…And the chance to preserve those memories with spectacular photographs.

Wine & Photo Pairing 
– like wine and cheese but lasts longer!

Fall Foliage

Join us on this one of a kind trip to the wine region of Châteauneuf du Pape. We’ll explore delicious wines, dine in wonderful authentic locales, visit beautiful villages and take amazing photos

Our October trip is designed for those who like to learn a little while they enjoy the finer things in life. All along the journey, we will provide information about the region, details about French wines and French cuisine and even help you take great photos of the experience so you can bring your memories home with you.

Our low-key approach is like having a friend with special expertise  traveling with you as you explore these spellbinding destinations. As a small group, you will have personalized attention and the level and type of activity that you prefer. No prerequisites to join this trip! Your desire to see and do things that most tourists never get to experience is all you need! Whether you are a novice or expert –photographer or wine lover — this trip is something special. (Don’t believe us, look at our client testimonials.)

Just sit back and enjoy the ride. We’ll help you navigate the beautiful landscape and ensure that you will see and experience things that only an insider could see and do.

For more information and a full itinerary, please visit our website at Bliss Travels (

What some of our most recent clients say:
” We really had a great trip, you made it all come together so nicely, picked a perfect hotel and a fantastic mix of restaurants.  You made all of the planning so easy and stress free.  The tours of the sites, gardens and museums was perfect … we feel that we really got to “know” Paris in just a few days. 
Thanks again … we look forward to planning a return trip with you…” (BB, Stamford Conn. June/July 2012)
“I had a super time and the whole adventure was a wonderful experience.  From the tours, site seeings and all the delicious food. I will always have great memories of my vacation in France. You made it all happen for me. Thank you very much for everything.” (WR, New Jersey June/July 2012)

We hope to see you soon!
Wendy Jaeger
Owner, Bliss Travels


In This Issue
October in Provence
Wines: Chateauneuf du Pape
Quick Links

The Wines of Chateauneuf du Pape
Chateauneuf du Pape has world renown red wines, full of flavor. Grenache is top grape here! Big wines! Not many people know that they also make truly excellent whites. The wines themselves are made from a selection of 13 grapes and each winemaker has his own combination. What a treat to try! Imagine visiting in fall just after harvest. The perched village with castle ruins surrounded by brilliant fall foliage, and the crisp fall air perfect for leisurely walks and sightseeing.
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per room on either Christmas Week in Paris or May trip to Provence if you book before September 1, 2012. Contact wendy@blisstravels. and put “$200, Early Booking” in your subject line.
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6 French Wine & Food Pairings

Friday night Bliss Travels had the pleasure to lead a food and wine pairing. So, off we went to Montclair, New Jersey to meet a great group of about a dozen people to share French wines, stories and photos (courtesy of our photography partner, Anthony Bianciella). We are leading a private one again today! Many of the same wines, but with cheeses this time.

Below are some of our pairings and suggestions from these two events.

We compared the Cotes du Rhone (Provencal wines from the area around Chateauneuf du Pape)

and Burgundy. 

Our two favorites both to visit and to drink.

1. Muscat. This is served all over the South of France as an apero. Usually, the accompanying food is salty –such as olives, tapenade, anchoiade. (For cheeses, we pair this with a Bleu, and serve this last, rather than first in in our tastings.)

Mas Amiel, Muscat de Rivsaltes, 2008

2. Cotes du Rhone, white! A Fleur de Pampre, Cotes du Rhone Village, Visan, Domaine La Florane. Great bouquet. Floral. Light and slightly sweet. We paired with this with an aged goat cheese from the region, served on toasts, and topped with a fig confit brought back from Provence on one of Bliss Travels recent trips. For our cheese pairing we are taking orange and fennel pastry spoons, made by a world famous Parisian bakery (we brought them back from Paris on this last trip) and filling them with a fresh, mild goat cheese, a drizzle of lavender honey will complete this amuse bouche! (Want more recipes and food ideas? Contact us!)

3. Burgundy, white. A 2008, Saint Veran, Tirage Precoce, Domaine Corsin. This was served with a smoked salmon. The full flavor of the Chardonnay pairs well with the full fatty flavor of the salmon. This Chardonnay also pairs well with Comte cheese.

4. Roses from Provence. These are under appreciated in the US. Rose is drunk all over France, all summer long. With fish, meats, vegetables…

We recommend the Roses from Provence very highly.. The Bandol’s are wonderful (Mediterranean). The Tavels (Northern Provence) are a favorite. Every community will have it’s own, and it will pair beautifully with the foods.

We paired ours with an Aioli,made using Bliss Travels recipe. It’s a dish we made last May in Provence –and will make again this May when we go with Anthony Bianciella to Provence for our custom spring trip through the region (his photos are here. If you’d like to see more, look at his website).

It pairs equally well with our Soupe au Pistou. Click on the link for the recipe and to “see” the lesson.

5. Burgundy, red. 2009 Savigny-Les-Beaune, Les Picotins, Domaine Jean-Luc Dubois. This pinot noir paired with sauteed mushrooms and a light ratatouille. It would have been wonderful with our lamb dish as well. We are pairing this with a hard cheese of Sheep’s milk , and also with St Marcellin.

Of course, the best pairings are food and wine, where they exist locally. Some of last September’s group to Burgundy.

6. Cotes du Rhone, Red. 2010 Mas de Libiun, Khayyaim. A full bodied Grenache. We served with with a herb encrusted rack of lamb. In Provence, we recommend lamb or even a strong local goat cheese to stand up to this full flavored wine. Coming full circle, this red can be paired with a strong, aged goat cheese, on a fig bread, with a fig confit….All of these items live, grow and are made in the same small towns.

Thank you to our wonderful host (and very frequent traveler) Karen! Thank you to Chef Nikko for making dishes to pair with our wines!

Want to know more about our trips or learn what our travelers have to say? Read our testimonials.  Or contact us at 609 462 6213 or Spring and Summer in France are spectacular!

7 Chocolate and French Wine Pairings for Valentines!

Chocolate and Wine….

Much like wine, chocolate is harvested, fermented, liquified and “made” into the final product. The “terroir” and the “maker” bring much to the final product.

Cocoa grows near the equator, and the heat and type of plant (like wine) create distinct flavor profiles. Cocoa beans are harvested and then fermented. They are dried and processed and eventually ground, roasted and broken down. Finally, they go through a process called “conching”, which is akin to constant kneading–and determines the texture of the chocolate. At this point the chocolate is then used as a raw product for artisans and large manufacturers to make their bars, ganaches, clusters and other candies.

Each manufacturer adds his/her own special mixture of ingredients –vanilla, sugar, cream, spice, nuts. Different cultures tend to produce similarly styled chocolates. American chocolates tend to be sweeter, less pure (i.e. milk v. dark) and larger. Belgian and French tend to use much less sugar, rely on thinner more delicate shells for their filled chocolates, use pure creams in the centers (not ‘creamy’ sugar fillings),  and produce higher percentages of purer (i.e. more dark and less milk) chocolate.

This blog is going to focus on Pairing French Wine and Belgian or French Chocolate, of course!

Here are 7 tips and pairing suggestions to sweeten your Valentine’s Day at home or abroad.


1. Pair Champagne with chocolates. Especially with lighter less rich chocolates, or fresh filled Neuhaus creams. Also, this pairs well with chocolate fruit combinations.


2. Pair a French Burgundy (Pinot Noir) with mild, but rich dark chocolates, and dark chocolates with mild spice, roasted nuts or ripe berry fruits. So, consider chocolates with cardamom, hazelnut or dark cherries for these wines.

3. Pair Rhone wines, such as a  Chateauneuf du Pape (and other Grenache heavy wines) or wines with rich spicy flavor and high tannins with highly spiced complex chocolates that can match the power of the wine. So, consider chocolate and chili pepper or chocolate with pink peppercorns or strong tea flavors and spice mixtures as good combinations.

4. For purists, wanting to experience the depth of one flavor,  use a single origin chocolate with a single grape wine. You can focus on the subtly of each more easily.

5. Pair a dessert wine, we prefer a Muscat de Beaumes de Venise, with a salted chocolate or salted caramel chocolate. Make sure you use a rich full flavored deep chocolate. Not a milk chocolate.

6. Have a Cognac with a chocolate –either complement it with a cognac flavored truffle or find a very low sugar, almost pure, dark chocolate.

7. Come with Bliss Travels where we do custom pairings and tastings of these things all over France, and in Brussels! At all the best spots! That’s why we call it Bliss!

Burgundy Wine Trip Updates

We are planning our twice annual, super exclusive, insider, trip to Burgundy for April and September. What could be better than Spring and Harvest? We note that Burgundy wines are red hot right now, flying off the shelves. So, if you like Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays, this is the region for you!

Here’s a taste of Bliss in Burgundy:

Below is the private lounge we use for our breakfasts, and an afternoon aperitif. There are only 4 rooms in this stunning private property.

Below is the living area  for one of the 4 rooms (2 of which are suites)
One of the baths:And  one of the 2 non suite rooms. Notice the original antiques and art!

After you’ve relaxed, we visit vineyards and taste wines. The tastings are private and custom.

Visit the centuries old cellars of a winemaker for a private barrel tasting.

Have a private wine tasting of premier cru and grand cru Burgundy wines by candle light

Visit the famous villages, markets and winemaker’s of the region.

Then, finish in Paris, the City of Lights for fine dining, custom menus and special experiences

Contact us now to be part of this very small, special trip.

A Bientôt,

Wendy Jaeger

Owner, Bliss Travels

609 462 6213

7 “Musts” for the Ultimate Wine Tasting in Burgundy

Want to have the “ultimate” experience in Burgundy, tasting wines and visiting vineyards? Who doesn’t! Here are some tried and true tips for ensuring your trip is over the top fabulous!

1. Location, Location, Location! Experience the “terroir”. Find someone to take you around and “introduce you” to the various parcels of land. You know that fabulous Chardonnay you love? The one from “Les Charmes” (perhaps). Well, visit that plot. See where it’s grown. It’s all about real estate. 

2. Think Small! Some of the best vineyards, and best wine production in Burgundy is from small parcels of land. Just cause it’s tiny and just cause you haven’t heard of it means nothing. Good things often come from small packages!

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