We’ve been biking and walking since 1966, and as you can imagine, we’ve learned a thing or two over the years. But knowledge, like life and a fine wine, is better shared. That’s why we were happy to help when Chris Santella, author of the Fifty Places book series (ed. note: not to be confused with that other series of books starting with Fifty…) reached out to us for his book Fifty Places to Bike Before You Die (Stewart, Tabori & Chang, 2012).
Chris, in turn, was nice enough to give The Slow Road a sneak peak. Below, B&R co-founder George Butterfield discusses his favourite biking region in the world—and trust us, he’s been to a lot of them.
George Butterfield: Burgundy
“Before I first visited Burgundy and the walled city of Beaune in the early 1980s, it was typical for traveling bicyclists to stay in youth hostels,” George Butterfield led off. “About this time, we had the idea of pairing wonderful places to stay with great places to bike. Why shouldn’t cyclists stay in good hotels? When we discovered Beaune, I fell in love. I think it’s the greatest biking destination in the world—the rides, the red wines, the beauty and authenticity of the town, a place where real people live and make wine, the great elixir of life. I could go riding every day for a month and my route would never be the same. When I come down off the hills and drift into Beaune, I feel like I’ve been in heaven. Butterfield & Robinson made it headquarters for our European operations not long after my first visit. It was like they built the city just for us—how thoughtful!”
The Burgundy (or Bourgogne in French) region rests in eastern France; the area’s capital, Dijon, is a two-hour high-speed train ride from Paris. The region’s documented wine history goes back nearly two millennia; Close de Vougeot, the oldest and one of the largest vineyards currently operating in Burgundy, was established by monks in 1115. The Côte d’Or—a limestone escarpment that runs through the heart of Bourgogne—is the foundation of the terroir that has bred some of the world’s finest wines. This is primarily Pinot Noir and Chardonnay country, though several other grapes (including Aligoté and Gamay) are also grown. “Burgundian wines are known for their purity; reds are made exclusively from pinot noir grapes, whites entirely from chardonnays,” said David Butterfield, son of George and owner of Beaune-based Butterfield Wines. “In Bordeaux, winemakers willingly and eagerly blend different varietals together, a process considered just short of blasphemy in Burgundy—not to mention that it is strictly forbidden under the appellation laws for the region. To my palate, the wines of Burgundy are soft, elegant, and unquestionably complex.”
Pick up Chris’ book to read more of George’s thoughts on Burgundy, along with recommendations from B&R director of operations and planning Chris Mark and director of business development Jeneen Sutherland.