Cruising in France: Day 5 on the Burgundy Canal


A sunny morning permitted the group to get out to walk on the towpath while La Belle Epoque cruised today from Ancy-le-Franc to Lezinnes, with an excursion in the afternoon to the town of Chablis.

A most notable town in Burgundy is Chablis dominated by the spire of the 13th century

Collégiale Saint-Martin à Chablis. The city is packed with cellars aging the namesake wine. There are 300 producers with the most prominent being Domaine Laroche. We visited their 16th century cellars where the best wine is aged and enjoyed by the company that has been in existence since the 9th century. Public production is 800,000 bottles of their standard Chablis.

Collégiale Saint-Martin à Chablis and oak barrels in cellar of Domaine Laroche.

Chablis is a white wine only as the terroir in the hills around the town consists of limestone. Red wine is produced on clay soil. The wine is aged in oak barrels with the size of the barrel determining the amount of oak taste on the wine. The smallest barrels produce the strongest taste. Standard barrels, which hold enough for 300 bottles, cost 900 euros each and last only about six years.

Following the tour of the cellars, we enjoyed a tasting of several of Domaine Laroche’s fine Chablis.

Giant press, now a tourist attraction at Domaine Laroche, was last used prior to World War I; and vineyard terraces on slope east of Chablis.
Chef Bryan’s special appetizer.

As usual Chef Bryan’s dinner menu was excellent with some of the group exclaiming that his meals were the best they’ve ever had on a cruise. Quite a compliment for a British chef in France. His appetizer tonight was one of his specialties developed when he once was a restaurant owner. It combined red wine poached pear with caramelized walnuts and a French blue cheese mousse.

Story and photos courtesy of Dennis Cox

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