I’m in Burgundy baby!
Burgundy, where do I begin? Heaven on earth (if you ask me). No patch of land is without grapes – it’s just vine, after vine, after vine (and a random road running through the centre to get you from vineyard A to vineyard B). I’m going to sound like a wine wanker here but it’s truly spectacular.
This is my first blog post without being promoted by a question but after spending the last few days in this little pocket of paradise I have a lot to share.
Burgundy is about 3.5 hours from Paris (eight hours if you stop like we did to see all the sites along the way) and it’s where some of the best wines in the world are produced.
When I say wines, I specifically mean Chardonnay and Pinot Noir (that’s all they are allowed to produce in this region if they want to call it Burgundy… and you want to call it Burgundy cause peeps are prepared to pay top dollar for this drop). So put simply, when you see ‘Burgundy’ on a bottle of wine it’s going to be Chardonnay if it’s white and Burgundy if it’s red.
There are plenty of reasons why wines from Burgundy are soooooooo good but the most interesting (I think) is the composition of soil is this part of the world, which is a combination of limestone, chalk and clay (depending on whose vineyard you’re at). It’s this way because 200 million years ago it was part of a tropical sea.
It’s worth mentioning that the percentage of limestone, chalk and/or clay in the soil changes from vineyard to vineyard and even from vine to vine in some areas (no jokes – the soil can be different from one vineyard to another only 50 metres down the road). The different types of soil separate the very good Burgundies (referred to as Premier Cru wines) from the GREAT Burgundies (referred to as Grand Cru wines).
The unique soil does some pretty awesome things to the grapes. It retains the heat when the sun goes down so the grapes have a little more warmth at night, it reflects the sun so the grapes get nice and warm in the morning before the temperature heats up and it retains the moisture from the rain so if it’s hot and dry the grapes can still drink.
What’s more interesting is that Burgundy has micro-climates. What am I on about?!? It’s crazy but you can actually see the micro-climates right in front of your eyes! In Burgundy one vineyard (let’s say the Premier Cru vineyards) will have a slightly different climate to another vineyard (let’s say the Grand Crus vineyards) just down the road.
Micro-climates are areas where the climate differs from the surrounding areas (which can be as small as a few square metres). Burgundy has micro-climates because of the slopes in the area. Some areas of Burgundy are exposed to more direct sunlight than other areas and are therefore warmer for longer which creates micro-climates and therefore a totally different wine from one plot to the next.
Now that we’ve touched on the soil and the micro-climates in Burgundy let’s talk about the geography of the region. Burgundy is divided into five sub-regions which all make wines using Chardonnay and/or Pinot Noir grapes (if it didn’t sink in earlier).
At the top and a little to the left is Chablis which has a river flowing through it to help moderate its hot (in the summer) and cold (in the winter) inland climate. The only wine that is produced here is Chardonnay (and it’s usually unoaked).
Next we’ve got Côte de Nuits which is all about Pinot Noir (although a small amount of Chardonnay is produced here). Most of the Appellations (if you have no idea what I’m talking about when I say Appellations read my blog post here) are Grand Crus vineyards which means they are bloody perfect in terms of well… everything (grapes, climate, harvest, production – you name it they’ve got it sorted). Most wines from Côte de Nuits are expensive but there are a few cheaper Appellations from non Grand Cru areas you should look out for including Marsannay, Fixin and Nuits-St-Georges. You can easily get wines from Côte de Nuits (or anywhere else in Burgundy for that matter) from cellars that stock boutique wines, even Dan Murphy’s will have a few drops from standard producers to get you started.
Travelling further south we come to the Côte de Beaune. You might have heard of the town Beaune (which is in the middle of the Côte de Beaune) because it’s a big arse medieval village. There are a few Grand Crus vineyards in this area but mostly it’s wines that aren’t too fancy and are accessible to your average punter. The Côte de Beaune produces mostly Pinot Noir but it’s famous for its rich Chardonnays too. You can get some pretty reasonably priced bottles here if you steer clear of the Grand Crus vineyards.
Burgundy is often referred to as the Côte-d’Or, which is simply the Côte de Nuits and the Côte de Beaune as one.
If you venture even further south you come across the Côte Chalonnaise (with wines ranging from smooth Chardonnays to earthy Pinot Noirs) and Mâconnais (mostly ripe fresh Chardonnay). No Grand Cru vineyards in site so you can pick up some bloomin’ amazing bottles at very affordable prices.
It’s dinner time now and I’m a few Chablis in so I’m off to fill my belly! Until next week xx