Burgundy's Cote D'Or is home to some of the priciest cult wines on earth
Many serious wine lovers believe that some of the world’s greatest wines come from Burgundy. Others would argue that Bordeaux is the pinnacle. I don’t think you can compare the two. Burgundy’s production is miniscule; Bordeaux’s is mammoth. Burgundy is boutique producers; Bordeaux is large-scale chateaux. Burgundy’s wines are quietly elegant; Bordeaux’s are bold and massively-structured.
The famous Cluny Abbey played an important role in Burgundy
The Catholic monks, abbeys, and the monasteries have played an enormous role in shaping Burgundy’s wine history. From 900 A.D., the clergy were actively involved in not only making and selling wine, but actually developing the notion of terroir (soil, microclimate, slant of the hill, drainage, wind, environmental pests, etc.). Early on they learned that different plots of earth made consistently different wines.
Centuries ago monks surrounded vineyards with special characteristic with walls
The monks mapped out an intricately complex quilt of vineyards throughout Burgundy which today are the basis for the region's Cru’s. They built walls around each plot. Wall in French is “clos,” thus many of Burgundy’s vineyards begin with the word “clos.”
In French Burgundy is known as Bourgogne
Burgundy begins just 120 miles south of Paris. The actual wine part of the region is a long, narrow area that runs about 150 miles in length. Burgundy is composed of these five distinct sub-districts (north to south):
2) Cote D’Or
3) Cote Chalonaise
Two Great Grapes of Burgundy
Reds in Burgundy are made from Pinot Noir (the only exception is Beaujolais which uses the Gamay grape). Difficult to grow, fickle Pinot Noir thrives in a narrow band of soil and climate parameters. Red Burgundy is mecca for many oenophiles. In fact, many in-the-know consumers feel that Pinot Noir is at its very best in Burgundy.
White Burgundy is made a 100% from the Chardonnay grape. The Chardonnay varietal is actually is native to the Burgundian region of France. While Chardonnay is a now a universal grape, white Burgundies are some of the most divine wines on planet earth---complex layers with a long finish.
Burgundy is Terroir-Driven
Every plot of earth has been painstaking rated for the quality of its terroir
Unlike Bordeaux where the pecking order is established by a chateau’s land holdings, Burgundy’s hierarchy is purely terroir based. For example, Mouton Rothchild in Bordeaux owns many parcels in different parts of the huge wine region. All of them may be used in the making Rothschild's wine as Bordeaux wines are all about blending. In Burgundy, vineyards have been carefully mapped out into very small plots based on their unique terroir. In contrast to Bordeaux, Burgundy "Cru" cannot be blended as their intent is to showcase the specific single vineyard and its terroir.
Stay tuned for future articles on Burgundy, including Pinots and Chardonnays that won’t break your bank, pairing Burgundy's wine with foods, and many other favorite experiences of mine awaiting you in Burgundy.