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Wines of Burgundy
‘Haunting bottles, memories of which last a lifetime’
Some of the wines from Burgundy are considered to be the best in the world. The vineyards of Chablis, Meursault or Montrachet may be a veritable patchwork worked by small scale growers but they produce memorable white Burgundy wines. La Romanée, Chambertin and Musigny, renowned for red Burgundy wines, are coveted by connoisseurs, collectors and investors alike. Our map of the Burgundy wine regions shows the principal wine growing areas - Chablis in the north, and moving southwards, the Côtes de Nuits, Côtes de Beaune, Côtes Chalonnaise and Mâconnais.
With wine appreciation growing as a pastime across the globe, there is a thirst to know more, and, as you discover this intricate world of wine, the better it becomes. But getting to grips with the wines of Burgundy is not an easy matter. One vineyard may be divided up and owned by various growers. David Clark for example owns, amongst others, 0.5ha of Côte-de-Nuits-Villages, 0.1ha of Morey and 0.16 ha in Vosne Romanée; small they maybe, precious most certainly. So here you have a lot of producers, dedicated to their craft but how do you know good from not so good?
As the vineyards are confined to relatively small areas, it is easy to tour the region by car. In the Côte d’Or you can follow the Route des Grands Crus which is well signed and tourist offices supply maps and useful publications. Stop off at some of the châteaux such as Pommard where you can have a tasting lunch and each season, an art exhibition is on view. Immerse yourself by staying at a wine château such as André Ziltener, or Maison Olivier Leflaive. The small villages are dressed for visitors, and brimming with geraniums in summer, ideal for a leisurely wander followed by lunch.
In Burgundy, red wine is principally from the Pinot Noir grape variety, and white wine from the Chardonnay grape. Pinot Noir is described as a ‘fickle’ grape – it is thin skinned and difficult to grow. However, the soil and climate in the Burgundy region – described by that word encompassing all the necessary ingredients, ‘terroir’, suit the variety well and other places in the world have not had the same success in producing such great wines from the Pinot Noir grape. See Vintage Burgundy Explained.
So what is it that keeps drawing people to the region, rather than say Bordeaux, that other great wine growing area of France? Chris Kissack, The Wine Doctor comparing the style of Bordeaux and Burgundy wines says:… ‘from Bordeaux, which can sometimes be as much about texture and power as anything else, we move to Burgundy where there might be more elegance, more perfume, more intrigue’. And intriguing the whole subject certainly is – enormous tomes are written about the intricacies of the wine growing areas from aspect to soil composition, climate to method. Kissack continues, ‘Bordeaux might please the palate and the mind, but some wine drinkers will maintain that only Burgundy provides the most haunting bottles, memories of which may last a lifetime’.
In our wine pages, we bring you an introduction to the wines of Bourgogne, to some of the growers, the festivals and the news from the region that catches our eye. Jancis Robinson describes why she loves the region (it’s the dirt!) and has tips on visiting the cellars. It is the wine, the wine makers and the wine villages that give the Burgundy region its eternal charm, and romance, and, there’s no getting away from it, make it the place you will want to return to time and again.