The hallowed ground of Burgundy(French Wine) is home to the greatest Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs in the world. Sadly though, in recent years not all of the French wines made here have met the standards of their predecessor. Having said that, there are some smart up-and-coming young producers around and today Burgundy finds itself on a bit of a roll.
Burgundy was one if the first French wines regions to be know for its wine outside its boundaries. Favoired by kings and queens, the much sought-after wines of Burgundy werw also a passion for Thomas Jefferson. Situates in central France, Burgundy stretches from Dijon in the north, to just south of Macon in the south, The districts of Chablis, sixty miles to the northwest of Dijon, and Beaujolais, to the south of Macon, are both considered part of the region. Due to the influence of the church and the France law of inheritance, the wineyards of Burgundy are very fragmented.
Did you know?
The French wines in Sauvignon de St Bris, an Appwllation Contrôlêe in Northern Burgundy, are made from Sauvignon Blanc.
Therefore the ‘nêgociant’ has an important role in the making and selling of the wines. ‘Domaine’ bottled Burgundy is a direct reflection of an individual grower, who often tends the vines, makes thewine, and bottles it.
Chardonnay is the principal white grape suited to the calcareous/limestone soil of Burgundy. White Burgundy combines power and elegance but early maturing wines are also produced, along with the racy, cool climate white French wines of Chablis. The Alogtê grape is also planted, This makes crisp and lively white wines and is the classical base for Kir. Pinot Blanc and Sauvignon Blanc are also planted in small quantities. The major black variety in the region is Pinot Noir, except in Beaujolais where Gamy reigns supreme. In Burgundy, Pinot Noir is capable of producing wines of exceptional class, elegance and ability to age. It’s a difficult customer though and great care is required to grow and vinify this grape. Gamay on the other hand, provides colour, lots of fruit and acidity in Beaujolais and is also used in the Mâconnais.
The most famous and expresive French wine of Burgundy include the those the Domaine de la Romanée Conti, Domaine Leflaive and Lafon.
Bourgogne Passetoutgrains is a blend of a minimum of one third Pinot and Gamay.
Throughout Burgundy there are terroirs with chalk, marl, clay, stony ground, and iron in places. The hard winters and hot summers together with the soil ensure individual characters and personality. The grapes here are Pinot Nair, Chardonnay, Aligote, and Gamay. Near St-Bris in the Auxerrois th.ey also grow a little Sauvignon Blanc. Burgundy is a complex patchwork of vineyards, referred to here as climat, villages, clos, and crus. There are also four Burgundy-wide appellations.
Bourgogne, Bourgogne Aligote (for white wine), Bourgogne Grand Ordinaire, and Bourgogne.Passe Tout-Grains can be used for the appropriate grapes from throughout the area. Tbe better Burgundies come from specific Localities (such as Côtes de uHs, Côtes de Beaune).
These wines bear the name of the parish or community such as Chablis, Nuits-St-Georges, Vosne-Romanee, or Vougeot).
In addition to the village or community appellation, these wines are permitted to identify the particular piece of land or climat. These climats are of sufficient quality that their French wines may be termed premier cru. Examples of these are Chablis ler Cru Montmains, Chambolle-Musigny Armoureuses, Puligny-Montrachet Folatieres, Beaune Clos des Mouches, and Beaune Greves.
These climats have became very famous by their constant quality over the centuries. It is sufficient for these wines just to bear the name of the climat. Examples are Chablis Grand Cru Vaudesir, Echezeaux, Charmes-Chambertin, Clos de Vougeot, Bonnes Mares, Romanee-St-Vivant, Carton, Montrachet.
Burgundy is divided into nine different areas: Chablis, Auxerrois, Cotes de Nuits, Cotes de Beaune, Cotes Chalonnaise, Miiconnais, Beaujolais Villages, Beaujolais, and Coteaux du Lyonnais. In reality the last three fall within Beaujolais, and Auxerrois is subsumed in Chablis.
Chardonnay: The only grape allowed for Chablis producing a steely dry, green, acidic wine. The best wines are much richer, with depth and intense flavour although still bone dry.
Sauvignon Blanc: Used for Sauvignon de St.Bris. The variety is not legal in Chablis which is why the wine has only VDQS status.
Pinot Noir: Mainly used for red wine production, with some César, Gamay and Tressot.
This light, fruity and fresh tasting French wine is drunk young. True Chablis can be laid down for maturing but is also very enjoyable in its first year. This French wine is fully matured after three years.
Chablis Premier Cru is at its best after three to five years. It does not contain the depths of the Grand Cru but can be drunk much earlier for those too impatient to wait.
A Premier Cru Chablis is golden with a definite tinge of green. The nose is fruity but above all vegetal : lemon balm, fern, and the suggestion of coriander. The taste is dry and reminiscent of chalk with a touch of iodine. Known Premier Crus are: Mont de Milieu, Tonnere, Sechet, Montee de Fourchaume, Montmains,Vaillons.
These French wines need to be laid down for at least five years after bottling and can certainly be left for twenty years. These are rare French wines, very dry, with a good balance between strength and finesse. The colour is a very clean pale yellow with the minimum of green tinge.
The nose tends towards fern and coriander with the occasional suggestion of preserved citrus fruit. The chalk soil is readily discovered in the flavour, with a pronounced undertone of iodine.
The preserved citrus fruits put in a further appearance in the aftertaste. There are seven Grand Cru wines: Vaudesir, Les Preuses, Les Clos, Grenouilles, Bougros, Valmur, and Blanchots.