Relais et Chateaux Instants Magazine: Discovering Burgundy the Cistercian way
For my first trip to Burgundy, I longed to soak up all I could of what the region has to offer—both literally and figuratively. Visits to renowned vineyards like Clos de Vougeot in Côte de Nuits, Maison Joseph Drouhin’s Clos des Mouches in Beaune and Domaine Simon Bize et Fils in Savigny les Beaune proved educational, delicious and inspiring. Recommended by a renowned French food critic, the nearby Abbaye de la Bussière proved the ultimate locale to experience and reflect on Bourgogne’s rich beauty, history and peacefulness.
An abbey since the 12th century, relics of monastic life—such as the Cistercian grape presses and the ornate stained glass windows—welcome modern guests, but nothing speaks to the property’s history more than the tranquility of its grounds and its buildings, where a religious quiet still pervades the hospitable and luxurious hotel.
Arriving late in the day, I walked out over the grounds, breathing in the scents of lavender and geranium, pine and earth in the low-slung sunlight. Sculptures by artists such as Paul Day punctuate the manicured lawns that surround the Gothic structure and its serene pond. Inside the abbey, soaring pillars support the vaulted ceilings. In the dining room of Le 1131, the onsite Michelin-starred restaurant helmed by chef Guillaum Royer, I tasted through the menu with wine pairings by their clever sommelier.
With Duval-Leroy Premier Cru Rosé Prestige Champagne, I began with rich, succulent and irresistible local escargots en persillade augmented by a foamy cream broth. Poached Arctic Charwith carrot purée and orange granita and was gorgeously accompanied by a 2011 Vincent Girardin Santenay Le Beauregard Premier Cru, a remarkably graceful and balanced biodynamic selection.
Brazenly rare (and much appreciated for it) heritage beef with young vegetables & onion soubise paired beautifully with Domaine Jean-Marc Bouley Hautes-Côtes de Beaune 2013. Dinner was rounded out with poached huckleberry, with a dusting of chocolate & cheese sorbet, perfect with a Muscat de Beaumes de Venise by Pierre Amadieu 2012.
The accommodations were as regal and voluptuous as Burgundy’s best Grand Crus, and as I pondered the luxury of my environs and let the silence of the ancient estate envelop me, I fell into peaceful dreams of my next visit.