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Burgundy Wine News 2017

The 2017 harvest: Much enthusiasm in the Bourgogne region

Grape harvest in Burgundy, photo BIVB  armellephotographe

This year, it all happened very quickly. The harvest began at the end of August, with quality and quantity much in evidence, and picking peaked during the first two weeks of September. After a series of vintages that have suffered the whims of the weather – 2016 in particular – the Bourgogne winegrowing region has returned to cruising speed in terms of production, while averages across the rest of France are down. The good yields this year were a huge relief for many, but quality was also there in spades, which is, of course, essential to the Bourgogne winegrowing region.

'In general terms, the whites reached maturity before the reds, and this perfectly healthy and ripe fruit was gathered in the sunshine. The more delicate Pinot Noir required greater patience. More autumnal weather arrived in early September and the rain was another element that needed to be considered when selecting a harvest date. Picking peaked during the first two weeks of September. The only slight damper was the springtime frost that hit the Châtillonnais and part of the Chablis and the Mâcon regions, which left its mark on those estates most affected, and which had already been hit by the frost in 2016' reports the BIVB.

Recognition for Vezelay wine

Vézelay becomes a Village appellation This is a wonderful promotion for Vézelay, one of the smallest Bourgogne appellations (66 hectares).

Vezelay Wine Village Appelleation, photo BIVB

Vines were first grown in Vézelay during the Roman era, but unfortunately, they were almost completely destroyed by phylloxera in 1884. In 1875, they began a gradual comeback, and were granted the Bourgogne appellation in 1985. Then in 1998, the quality and uniqueness of this terroir were recognized and given a welcome boost when they were awarded the Bourgogne Vézelay Régionale appellation.

There are around 20 winegrowers currently producing the Vézelay appellation, including many newcomers to the industry, following in the footsteps of those who came before and working to translate the unique characteristics of the Vézelay terroir into wine. The INAO crowned this combined effort in June 2017, putting its signature on the specifications for this new Village appellation, the 44th in the Bourgogne winegrowing region. These new specifications are rigorous, as they should be for a new Village appellation, with yields restricted to a maximum of 55hl/ha. And Vézelay is determined to continue expanding. Although far from the 1,000 hectares under vine in the Napoleonic era, this little winegrowing area, which previously covered 66 hectares, now has an additional 150 hectares of AOC Village available for planting, which will certainly delight fans of this 100% Chardonnay white wine with its pale yellow gold colour. A smooth ride for this appellation whose name promises some exceptional heritage. See Marilyn Floyd's article: Getting in the Community Spirit.

make it a Chablis weekend

Wine Festival ChablisTo celebrate the birth of the 2017 vintage, the 69th edition of the Fête des Vins de Chablis will be held on October 21-22.

After a very successful edition last year with more than 5,000 visitors, the Fête des Vins de Chablis 2017 is looking just as promising. This is a key event in the calendar for all those wishing to discover and sample the appellations of the Chablis region. Whether you’re an amateur or a professional, you will be a welcome guest in the village of Chablis on the fourth weekend of October.

This annual event, which has been running since 1949, offers a wealth of activities, including the baptism of the new vintage, tastings offered by some 40 producers, and the induction of new members of the local brotherhood of the Piliers Chablisiens, along with a brass band, walks in the vines, and plenty of activities for children. New this year are tastings of the latest winning wines from the 2017 Chablis wine competition,and 4x4 trips through the vines upon request. This event is organized by the Chablis Tourist Office in partnership with the BIVB.

A sneak peek at the lesser-known wines of Auxey-Duresses

Auxey Duresses, photo BIVBTucked away close by Meursault, Auxey-Duresses is one of the lesser-known appellations, yet there will be some wonderful wines to discover on the fourth weekend in October, 21 and 22, when winegrowers from Auxey-Duresses and Melin will be opening their cellars.

This will provide a chance to discover a lesser-known appellations of the Côte de Beaune which produces both red and white wines, and has nine Climats classified as Premier Cru.

Visitors will be able to try out the wines accompanied by escargots, foie gras, and local cheeses thanks to a range of catering options that will be available. But take note – some of the restaurateurs require reservations. Other entertainment will be provided, such as a demonstration of barrel-making and craft exhibitions.

* Tastings from 10:00-18.00 on Saturday 21 and Sunday 22 October
* Tasting glasses cost €5 and can be used to sample wines in any cellar displaying the “Coup d’Œil, Coup de Cœur” logo
* A free shuttle bus will be offering transfers between Auxey-Duresses and Melin

from the BIVB - july 2017

Vineyards of Burgundy, photo Aurelian Benitez BIVB

There has been a lot of success in fighting Flavescence Dorée in the Bourgogne wine growing region. By  working together the wine growers reversed the spread of the disease while reducing the use of insecticides by 80% over three years. Continuing this cooperation between the BIVB and the Confederation of Bourgogne Appellations and Winegrowers (CAVB) the region has drawn up a charter to reduce the use of products for pest and disease control in the vineyards. The Charter includes an action plan, the feasibility of which will be tested in the vines over a year before being widened out.

reserve three days in November

Every year, the Hospices de Beaune wine estate invites legendary auctioneering house Christie’s to sell its latest vintage. And with plenty more events scheduled for the weekend, it’s sometimes not so easy to find one’s way around. So the Ecole des Vins de Bourgogne has come up with a three-day programme to immerse visitors into this globally renowned event and take full advantage of this Bourgogne tradition.

The packed programme includes tasting classes, estate visits, cookery courses focusing on food and wine combinations, and in particular,a tasting of those wines that will be offered for sale at the auction on the Sunday. Participation in the auction itself is reserved for potential buyers, and the Ecole des Vins de Bourgogne can help with access.

Date and location:17-19 November at the Ecole des Vins de Bourgogne in Beaune, with external tastings and visits. The training module will be held in English. By reservation only.
Ecole des Vins de Bourgogne: tel: 0033 (0)3 80 26 35 12 - delphine.thivat@bivb.com
Price: €1,310 euros per person

decanter wine awards 2017

Albert Bichot Criots Bâtard-Montrachet Grand Cru The Decanter Wine Awards 2017 have now been published. This year 17,200 entries from all over the world vied for the coveted recommendations and the wines from Burgundy scooped up a total of 293 gongs (excluding Commended) with Beaujolais getting 62 medals.  Jasper Morris MW was the Regional Chair for Burgundy with a team of 13 other experts judging the wines.

The Medal winners

Burgundy wines received  7 Platinum Best in Show; 32 Gold medals; 104 Silver; 157 Bronze, and 45 Commended. Beaujolais wines received 14 Silver medals; 48 Bronze and 25 Commended.

Here are the prestigious Platinum Best in Show winners:

Albert Bichot Criots Bâtard-Montrachet Grand Cru 2014 White
Château de Santenay Les Brunettes et Planchots Aloxe-Corton 2015 Red
Domaine de la Vougeraie Clos de Vougeot Grand Cru 2015 Red
Domaine de la Vougeraie Le Clos Blanc de Vougeot Vougeot 1er Cru 2014 White
Jean Loron La Crochette Mâcon-Villages 2015 White
La Chablisienne Côte de Léchet Chablis 1er Cru 2014 White
Vignerons des Terres Secrètes Croix-Jarrier Mâcon-Verzé 2015 White

See the full Burgundy results

A matter of taste

Wine tasting notes decoded by Decanter MagazineEarthy, cedar, strawberry, chalky... when you read the experts' wine tasting notes, all sorts of descriptions are applied. Now Decanter Magazine has come up with some notes of its own to help understand the reasoning behind the names. Apparently 'Honeysuckle' is often 'a typical expression of oaked Chardonnay from the Côte de Beaune. It can be found alongside other nutty and floral notes, such as Louis Latour Meursault 1998 or amongst the complex candied aromas of Pierre-Yves Colin-Morey, Puligny-Montrachet 2015'. Flint, 'derived from the French phrase goût de pierre à fusil, which literally means tasting of flint stone,' denotes minerality which is found in wines from Chablis and Sancerre. See tasting notes decoded


Bonneau du Martray, photo 365 jours en bourgogne, Laurent Gotti 'Considered one of the most prestigious estates on Corton Hill, the owning family of Domaine Bonneau du Martray has announced the sale of the majority of its shares to American businessman Enos Stanley Kroenke' reports Decanter.com. Kroenke owns Screaming Eagle winery in Napa Valley and is the majority owner of Arsenal football club. Located on the hillsides of Aloxe-Corton and Pernand-Vergelesses, the 11 hectares produce only Grands Crus from Corton and Corton-Charlemagne.


Ecole des Vins BeauneYou know your Burgundy wines but would like to become more conversant with the Grands Crus - let's face it, who wouldn't? The Ecole des Vins in Beaune runs a course in English over three days where you can expand your knowledge. They advise that you do need to have wine tasting skills to get the best out of this experience. Time will be spent in the professional tasting room, you will visit wine domaines and study the Grands Crus of Chablis, the Côte de Beaune and Côte de Nuits. Visits to local restaurants with matched wines included. The Saga of the Grands Crus is planned for June 28-July 1, price on request. A gourmet's delight. ecoledesvins@bivb.com.

The wine economy in Burgundy

The BIVB has bought out a pictorial pdf showing various aspects of the wine economy in the region - information on average production, varietal distribution, regional variations, distribution of appellations, markets, and surface areas – you can find all this and more in Key Figures for Bourgogne Wine which makes for interesting reading. From the poor reproduction below you can see the idea. PDF link

'A Highly Entertaining Uncorking of Counterfeit Wine Scandal'

Sour Grapes documentary, the story of Rudi KurniawanThe fascinating story of Rudi Kurniawan the wine forger unfolds in a new documentary aired on Neflix called 'Sour Grapes.' The scope of this scam instigated by the very convincing and charismatic Rudi will keep you enthralled as the Burgundy wine producer Laurent Ponsot, the auctioneers. the collectors, the ex CIA agent, the FBI and Kurniawan's new found friends account the scale of the counterfeiting and the one man induced price hype of the wine over recent years. Rudi has taken the rap and is serving a ten year prison
sentence but could one man really have done all this
alone? Read The Guardian review.

User friendly wineries to visit

Domaine Joliet Burgundy Domaine Quivy Burgundy

Domaine d'Arduy Burgundy


Domaine Joliet, Domaine Quivy, Domaine d'Ardhuy, three of the winegrowers offering tastings with Rue des Vignerons

In Burgundy the wine grower may be a one man band or a family affair. As Jancis Robinson points out in her article on visiting Burgundy's wineries, it is not easy to find them in their cellars to pay them a visit, usually they are out in the vineyard tending their plants. In Beaune and Chablis the tourist is well provided for with tastings on offer but drive out to Gevrey-Chambertin or Aloxe-Corton and where do you start? Now help is at hand. Rue des Vignerons is a website which tells you the user-friendly winegrowers offering tastings and cellar visits in Burgundy and Beaujolais, plus the other famous wine regions of France. The website is in English, there is no fee for their service and you book online, preferably ahead of time but a minimum of 30 minutes before you want to go. Some of the tastings are free of charge, and the website gives full details of the visits on offer and the prices plus a map and location details. You can buy wines at the cellars at reduced prices too. This certainly simplifies life and assures you of a warm welcome on arrival.

Putting over the passion

Discovering the vineyard climates of Burgundy Youri LebaultIf you need a reminder of why this wine region keeps beckoning you, take a look at Youri Lebault's book, 'Discovering the vineyard climates of Burgundy'. Concentrating on the Côte d'Or in the wake of its UNESCO ranking, Youri explains the 'climates' and origins of the vineyards leading up to the present day, he talks to some of the well-known growers such as Aubert de Villaine of Romanée Conti who has written the preface to the book, to Olivier Leflaive and Sylvain Pitiot. Lebault operates a luxury-end wine tour business and the final section of the book is devoted to tourist routes which he recommends. All this is presented with intoxicating pictures by Armelle photographe and good maps by Syvain Pitiot making you want to arrange your trip to the vineyards tout de suite. As one reviewer of Youri's trips says: he will 'enhance your experience beyond all your expectations'

The book is available in an English version and a French one, costing 25 euros, plus postage from Youri.

walk in the vineyards with a free app

A good looking app for walkers in the vineyards of Burgundy comes from the Côte d'Or Tourist Office. Packed with information and routes, it is entitled 'Bourgogne Rando Vignes, available in French, f.o.c. at the Apple Store or Google Play. GPS enabled for offline use.

Connoisseurs' Wine Tours

French Wine Explorers, an American based company, specialise in top end wine tours to France. Their Burgundy tour focuses on the Grand Cru wines and their related châteaux and domaines, or spend a few days in Champagne or Paris before heading on to Burgundy. In each case, these are trips for people who are short on time but who want to see and pack in the crème-de-la-crème of the region.

Tastings and Tours

Whether you want an introductory wine tasting or a more in-depth look, there is now a wide choice based around Beaune and Chablis. In our Gourment Tours section, we highlight some of the wine experiences - wine tours and tasting lunches.

The Marché aux Vins in the centre of Beaune, next to the Hotel-Dieu, is an excellent introduction to the best wines of the region. There you can taste the famous names from Meursault to Puligny-Montrachet at your leisure. The Marché aux Vins is open every day and the visit and tasting costs 10 € per person.

The Hôtel du Conseiller du Roy, is the impressive HQ of Bouchard Aîné & Fils on the ring road around Beaune. You can visit the age-old cellars and take a tasting tour for 10 € per person, lasting one hour. In one of the cellars there are pots of different scents from cinnamon to Lapsang Souchong tea to help you identify the personality of the wines you are sampling. Open daily from 9.30 - 12.30 and 14.00 - 19.00.

Wine Tours - Wherever you are in the world, so much more can come out of a trip when you have an experienced guide showing you the way. Robert and Joy Pygott, an English couple living in Burgundy, share their knowledge with you on their wine tours, visiting small independent vineyards and meeting the vignerons. About 20 wines are tasted throughout the day, and a three-course lunch is included in the price. There are one, two and three day tours to choose from with transport in their air-conditioned Land Rover Discovery. Prices for a day’s tour range from 150€ per person, and weekend trips can be planned to include accommodation. Their deep passion and boundless enthusiasm for Burgundy is infectious. robert@burgundydiscovery.com

Also see: Gourmet Tours

wine books

For more information on Burgundy Wine, see Wine Guidebooks

Pam Elson ©burgundytoday.com