On the Trail

Meandering Through & Around Dijon

David Driscoll

Not only is Dijon the capital of Burgundy country, it's one of the most important gastronomic centers of France—far beyond the eponymous Dijon mustard jars we see here at home. Hundreds of thousands of visitors flock to the city center (now a registered UNESCO world heritage site) for the world-famous Dijon International Gastronomic Fair each Fall—a veritable feast for the senses. While we weren't lucky enough to be there during the exhibition (one which brings more than 500+ vendors from all over), we did happen to catch the market during peak mid-day hours while taking a tour through the area's vineyards this past year. Let's just say it was everything we thought (and hoped) it would be.

First off, all of your vegetables will be fresh, hand-picked, and treated with the utmost of care. However, cigarette ash is just part of the deal. You're in France, remember; not San Francisco.

Under the yellow tint of the colored awning, my friend Charles selected a number of cured meats for a planned picnic. We were going to grab some grub, pick out a few bottles of local wine, and go hang out in one of the local vineyards to seal in the sense of place; not so much terroir in this case as much as atmosphere.

One of the stunning things about Burgundy (and the subject of conversation in an interview I did with journalist Max Potter recently) is how open and unguarded the legendary vineyards are. Names of places that seem like they should be holy or heralded ground are completely free and accessible to anyone with a car and the desire to visit them. We packed our lunches, grabbed a few bottles of pinot noir, and headed into Corton to get an idea of what grand cru royalty looked like.

No matter where you go, no matter what the soil is made up of, the best vineyard sites are almost always on slopes. The angle of the slope helps with drainage and keeps sun exposure more manageable. The view from the hill of Corton was magnificent. 

We plopped down our bounty on the ancient stone wall surrounding the site. Lay's cheeseburger-flavored chips have become a tradition at this point each time Charles and I travel through France. Don't make fun of us. We still had really good wine and really good sausage!

And so we dined.

-David Driscoll