Wine 101 - The Wines of Burgundy

Why this complex region is one of the world's best

 


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Wine 101 - The Wines of Burgundy Let me start off by letting you know that I am smart enough to not attempt to conquer Burgundy in a single bound. In fact, even two will only just begin to cover this most complex of regions. Ironically, it’s also one of the simplest. Almost every wine relies on a single variety, with the two main grapes Pinot Noir and Chardonnay accounting for the lion’s share of the wine and two contenders, Aligoté and Gamay, playing a distinctly supporting role (though Aligoté’s might more accurately be referred to as a cameo).

So, that’s the easier part. From here on, it gets incredibly complex, and the simple fact that one of the world’s absolute finest wine regions can produce so many profound wines with such a limited repertoire offers the first clue as to why that is. In a word: Terroir.

With these two grapes -- one particularly malleable, the other exceptionally site-sensitive -- the vignerons of Burgundy have been able to produce distinctive wines from vineyards separated by a few feet, and sometimes less than that. Let’s take a look at what makes Burgundy so special.

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Comments

  • Hi Gregory. The map is too small. Could you create an image that could be enlarged if you click on it?

    Nov 24, 2010 at 6:17 PM


  • Snooth User: japiok
    558329 2

    Jullie vergeten de Santenay. Smaakt beter dan de Côtes.
    Japiok

    Nov 24, 2010 at 10:12 PM


  • Snooth User: Gregory Dal Piaz
    Hand of Snooth Voice of Snooth
    89065 212,803

    Hi Elinore,

    You can visit Kobrand's website to see the image in their full glory. We do not, at this time, have the systems in place that would allow enlarging the images.

    Thanks for your thoughts though, we will add this to or to do list!

    Nov 25, 2010 at 3:28 AM


  • The author Roald Dahl once wrote that "to drink a Romanée-Conti is like having an orgasm in the mouth and nose at the same time".

    Is that all we need to know?

    Nov 25, 2010 at 11:02 AM


  • A very nice overview but, as you allude to in the introduction, is really only scratching the surface of the complexity that is Burgundian wine; a complexity that can be very vexing to fans of the region that are not flush with cash. The fragmentation of the vineyards, and the vast cast of characters at work within them, means that there is a tremendous diversity of styles and quality within each commune, making it very difficult to really ascribe a particular character to a commune and, from the consumer's point of view, extremely difficult to make an informed buying decision. One thing is certain: there is no such thing as a good cheap Burgundy from the Beaunes or Nuits; there may well be plenty of not-so-good expensive ones though. Nonetheless, we forgive all such shortcomings upon opening a good one, for the rewards are beyond the narrow view of accounting.

    Nov 26, 2010 at 2:07 PM


  • Nodding in agreement with Aylwin Forbes here. For years I had same issue. Occasional beauty with real strawberry, tannin, oak balance, others smelling of damp cabbage, thin and acidic. Many just dull compared to more reliable Oregon, Russian River, US wines.
    I was only helped by going to tastings of the en primeur offerings.
    I would still recommend dumping any prejudices against new world pinot noirs, there are many fine ones coming out of NZ for instance.

    Feb 23, 2011 at 4:55 AM


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