Burgundy has dramatic sun-facing slopes dotted with tiny wine villages
These two wines are dramatically different, as are the two distinct areas in which they are grown. Bordeaux is masculine and bold. Burgundy is feminine and gentle. Bordeaux calls out for grilled meats. Burgundy begs for fish with a delicate sauce. Bordeaux is all about opulent chateaux and enormous vineyards. On the other hand, Burgundy is about small parcels of land that have been passed down over generations. The list of differences goes on and on.
Bordeaux is all about grand, impressive estates
Many of the differences between Bordeaux and Burgundy and are a result of the different wine grapes allowed by law within these two regions. Bordeaux’s powerful wines come from the formidable Cabernet Sauvignon grape and the less muscular Merlot. Bordeaux actually allows blending of up to five red grapes to round out its power-house wines. Legally, things are very different in Burgundy. Only Pinot Noir may be used in Burgundian reds---under the area's strict rules, blending is not allowed. As Pinot Noir is much less tannic than its Bordeaux counterparts, the structure of a red Burgundy is significantly different (but equally compelling and complex), as are its flavor profiles and aromas. Pinots are about finesse, not about strength.
Bordeauxs in their youth offer dark fruit flavors such as black cherries, blackberries, black currants and plums. These fruit flavors are often mixed with herbal or spicy nuances such as cedar, licorice or black pepper. With some aging, however, Bordeaux flavors can take on leather or even cigar-box qualities.
Pinot Noir serves up a completely different experience. Think lighter red fruits such as strawberries, cranberries, raspberries or red cherries. Pinot can even take on slight earthy flavors such as mushrooms or wet leaves. As the tannins in this grape are much less aggressive than its Bordeaux counterparts, the mouth feel of Pinots are much softer and the wine appears more elegant.
Burgundy's monks built rock walls around each parcel of land to delineate its terroir
Hundreds of years ago (before Bordeaux was even a wine region) Burgundian monks invented the concept of terroir. These wine-making clergy separated out like a patchwork quilt every little plot of earth in the small wine region of Burgundy. They knew what parcels produced the best grapes and why. They even built rock walls (called "clos") around each vineyard and recorded their findings on intricate maps. These clos today form the basis for Burgundy's Premier Cru. The monks took into account all of the elements that produce great wines: soil, drainage, exposure to the sun, wind, topography, humidity, pests etc. These are all components of terroir.
Bordeaux's gravel soils have been washed down from the Pryenees
Burgundy’s terroir differs considerably from that of Bordeaux which is located hundred of miles away on the Atlantic. For example, the soil of Burgundy is limestone based, thus Burgundian wines have their hallmark minerality in addition to fruit profile. Bordeaux, in contrast, has gravel and clay soils, hence their wines are quite different. Weather is a huge difference. Bordeaux in general can ripen its grapes which translates to full flavored, bold wines. Pinot Noir is a cool weather varietal that doesn't require as much sun to ripen in Burgundy's cold climate.
Wine-Knows will be taking their farewell group to Burgundy in June 2019. We hope that you can join us to experience the land where the concept of terroir began, and to learn about the differences between a Burgundian Pinot and a Bordeaux-based Cabernet.