These little black edible berries with a golden tint are used to add intense flavour to many Burgundian specialities. This berry is highly popular with the locals of Burgundy, especially thanks to the Crème de Cassis liqueur, which is used to make the traditional Kir cocktail, now served in bars all over France and sometimes even overseas.
The origins of the Cassis de Dijon
Blackcurrant (cassis in French) is a berry that has only been grown in France since the 16th century, and was renowned back then for its medicinal benefits.
It became a speciality of Burgundy over time. In the 18th century, blackcurrant bushes were planted at either end of rows of vines in the vineyards of the Côte de Beaune and the Côte de Nuits. The berries were used to produce ratafia which is made by macerating the blackcurrants in alcohol.
Innovation from the locals of Dijon
In 1841, the distiller Claude Joly and cafe owner from Dijon Auguste-Denis Lagoute joined forces to create the very first Crème de Cassis. It was inspired by ratafia but with added sugar and made according to a different manufacturing procedure.
It was a roaring success at a time when liqueurs were very popular! Blackcurrant crops were developed on a much larger scale from then on, especially the "Burgundian Black" variety, renowned for its intense colour and strong aroma.
4 liqueur-making companies from Dijon, renowned for their top-quality products
In 2013, the quality of this Crème de Cassis was recognised and Cassis de Dijon was awarded the Protected Geographical Indication, produced by four liqueur-making companies:
Small but full of goodness!
Blackcurrants contain three times more vitamin C than oranges, and two times more than kiwis. So, come and get your recommended dose of vitamins, while choosing local products!
Crème de Cassis from Burgundy
In this local area, the Crème de Cassis de Bourgogne also boasts a Protected Geographical Indication, awarded in 2015.
The production area is more widespread but well-controlled:
1) the Crème de Cassis must be made in the area that covers from the north of Dijon to Mâcon
2) the fruit used must originate from this geographical area.
Around thirty producers and manufacturers produce this Crème de Cassis, including the Liquoristerie Joannet Jean-Baptiste in Arcenant.
Another recommendation is the Ferme Fruirouge, a family-run farm near Beaune producing a surprising blackcurrant ketchup.
The most well-known is the Kir, also known as "blanc-cassis", made from one-third Crème de Cassis and two-thirds Aligoté white wine.
A waiter from a café invented this famous cocktail at the beginning of the 1900s, then Félix Kir, a French Catholic priest and former Mayor of Dijon, made the cocktail famous and gave it his name.
>> the Kir Royal: made with champagne or Crémant de Bourgogne,
>> the Cardinal or Communard: made with red wine
>> the Marcassin: made with Marc de Bourgogne liqueur
Crème de Cassis is very well-known across the globe, and is also used in Tequila cocktails in the United States or with green tea in Japan.
An immersive tour of the Cassissium
To find out everything there is to know about the blackcurrant, come to the Cassissium in Nuits-Saint-Georges, between Beaune and Dijon.
A whole venue devoted to this little black berry, with an interactive museum, an informative film featuring their mascot "Supercassis", a tour of the Védrenne liqueur-making company and a tasting of the wide range of syrups and liqueurs, as well as a cocktail-making workshop.