A Week in Burgundy with Bertrand Leulliette, by LeeAnne Arnold
All bangers, all the time.
I never set out to write an article about French sausages, but here I am chronicling the various sausages (saucisse) and salami (saucission sec) from throughout the Burgundy/Jura/Beaujolais regions of Eastern France that I encountered on my Enrichment Trip through Bertrand’s Wines and SommFoundation. When most people think of Burgundy, they usually associate expensive beautiful wines, escargot, roasted chickens, and other gastronomic delicacies. I will forever associate it with the week of sausages. As I write this, I still haven’t eaten a sausage since I have come home, it’s been well over a month and I live pretty close to an amazing butcher, whose sausages I adore. I’m not yet ready. It was a lot of sausage.
Each night we came home after spending hours in incredibly hot vineyards and cool cellars to our home in Beaune. Our brains were reeling from history lessons, vineyard practices, and oak regiments and our palates a bit blown. In true American fashion we filled ourselves on the charcuterie and cheese plates before our actual dinner was ready to be served. Bertrand bought the correct amount of cheese for three American wine professionals. An entire wheel of Epoisses, sizable wedges of Comté, Morbier, Mimolette, and the first gone and always missed Brillat-Savarin. And the trusty side kick, saucisson. Saucisson can do no wrong. It’s the tried and true, consistently delicious, rustic, slightly funky, savory and salty companion that’s down for whatever. Have a little whole grain mustard and some cornichons, it’s there for you. A slice of baguette and époisses, you’re going to have a good time. Honestly, it’s a real banger.
Saucisson Sec: This category of sausages refers to dried, aged salami.
- Rosette de Lyon: Classic saucisson originating in Lyon (the gastronomic capital of France) but found all throughout France. It was readily available in Parisian markets as well as local butchers in villages. Made from coarsely ground pork shoulder, spiced with peppercorns and garlic, then dried for 6 weeks or more depending on the size. Pinkish-red in color with even distribution of fat and a powdery edible mold on the exterior. Rosette usually refers to the largest type of dried sausage.
- Saucisson de l’Ardèche: Pork sausage from the Ardèche region in South Eastern France. Mixture of aged and fresh cuts of pork, along with fatback ground and placed into natural intestine casings. Sausages are fermented and left to dry resulting in a salty, slightly acidic, with a hint of spice. Best served thinly sliced with a chilled bottle of your favorite Cru Beaujolais.
Saucisse: This category refers more often to fresh or smoked sausages.
- Saucisse de Montebéliard: A dense, smoked pork sausage that is smoked over sawdust. The Montebéliard was served with a side of boiled new potatoes, a salad, and cancoillotte chaude, a slightly runny, funky, cheese sauce that was mind-blowingly good. I ordered it the first time when in the Jura and loved it so much I ordered it again at Resto la Jeannette in Gevrey-Chambertin. Which also, you should go to if you’re out and about in GC. A fun, eclectic, no frills space with home cooked meals and an impressive cemetery of bottles.
- Chipolata: Fresh, long, thin pork sausages common at barbecues in France. On our second night, after coming back from the Côte de Nuits, our plans were to barbecue since we had been out and about all day and wanted something quick and easy to cook at the house. When we arrived back at the home in Beaune, we ended up cooking the chipolatas alongside the merguez in the oven because it was too hot to start a fire. It was approximately 110 degrees in the vineyards and we were wilting. Serve with the coldest beer on a hot day.
- Merguez: Algerian sausage typically made with lamb or beef, or a combination of the two in a fresh casing. The meat is seasoned with cumin, pimento, and other aromatic spices such as sumac or fennel. Hint of heat, depending on who is making them, but tons of savory aromatics. This was a contender for favorites I had on the road.
As we enjoyed most of these sausages at the house in Beaune, any of the bottles we enjoyed during apéro hour matched beautifully. Whether it was a 1988 Magnum of Domaine Robin Grand Cru “Les Clos” Chablis, 1996 Boyer-Martenot 1er Cru Meursault-Perrières, or something a little more accessible like 2020 Jean Paul Thévenet “En Voiture Simone” from Régnié. At the end of the day, when I think about my time in Burgundy, it’s all bangers.
Thank you to SommFoundation and Bertrand’s Wines for their sponsorship of this trip for three American sommeliers, “Dive into Bourgogne’s Five Côtes.”
LeeAnne Arnold is the Assistant Wine Director at Audrey in Nashville, Tennessee.