Saturday, March 21, 2009

Burgundy Wine and Label

I decided to step through this, first presenting some information on Burgundy vineyards and wine.

Burgundy has a few grape varieties: [main ones]
  1) Pinot Noir
  2) Chardonnay
  3) Chablis [chardonnay also]
  4) Aligote

There are several levels of wine. 
1) Table wine or vin de table is the least and cheapest. It may or may not be drinkable (in my opinion). It can be from anywhere, and does not carry an AOC (appelation d'origine controle). It is drinkable, not like the salted cooking wine in the USA and is often found in plastic bottles.

2) Regional wine: Vins de Bourgogne (Burgundy wine) is probably next. It can come from anywhere within Burgundy. It is usually not too expensive and can vary in quality. It will have "Appellation Bourgogne Controlee." 

3) Village wine: This has the name of the village where it was grown. Wine called Gevrey-Chambertin is village wine. Actually Gevrey was the name of the village and Chambertin was/is the name of the Grand Cru wine. In 1847 the name was combined to Gevrey-Chambertin. This is the same for Chambolle-Musigny, Nuits St. Georges, Morey St Denis....

4) Vineyards. Premier Cru and Grand Cru usually list the specific vineyard where they are grown. (I found a website with a map of Gevrey vineyards here: ) or also there is a sideways "pdf" version that is more complete. It even has Craite Paille in the upper left corner Adobe pdf map .

The vineyard in the back of our house is Craite Paille, and it is also the name of the street we live on in Gevrey. 

Most often a named vineyard has many owners, but not always. Clos Napolean in Fixin is a monopole, or one owner. Each section has a particular name, “lieu dit” in french or "place called". In Gevrey, the most noted wine is Chambertin Clos de Beze.

5) Premier Cru: Ah, now we are getting into the great wines. A Premier Cru will be noted on the label along with the name of the vineyard.

6) Grand Cru The best wine of the region. However there are areas where there is no Grand Cru, so Premier Cru is the best that you can buy in the area. Some of the Grand Cru’s are:         
        § Clos de Vougeot,
        § Musigny, 
        § Chambertin, 
        § Clos de la Roche, 
         § Romanee-Conti, 
        § and Montrachet (white).
    Romanee-Conti is very small and is one of the most expensive red wines in the world. An     aged bottle probably starts at around 4,000 euros (and up depending on the year).

What is the difference?
It is the land or specific location of the vineyard. The “gout de terroir” or the "taste of the earth" as the french say. One vineyard has more calcaire (limestone) than the one over yonder. The soil does impart flavor to the wine.

Also a lot of credit is given to “micro-climat” or micro-climate. A vineyard just 100 feet away, has different soil, different slope, different position to the sun and therefore the grapes taste different. You can notice this in the taste of the grapes and of course in the wine. Sometime take a test and try two Pinot Noirs such as a Fixin,or Chambertin, or Corton,or Rully, all pinot noirs, all very different... taste two of these side by side. Although these villages are farther apart than the 100 feet I mentioned, distance and placement does change the taste of the wine. These are all Pinot Noir and the taste is totally different. You get to know which ones you prefer, and of course which vignerons you prefer too.
Keith and I are not partiel to filtering. I have tasted Gevrey wine that has had the taste of cardboard. How could someone do that to such a fine wine!!

Each year the wine is different. The weather of course has a lot to do with the results; sun or little sun, amount of rain, major storms, hail or temperature.
Other things can happen to ruin the crop, such as insects or fungus or....
So it is with great anticipation that wine is tasted after the harvest. Will it be good? Does it have a fruitier taste? Or is it a heavier taste this year? Are there more or less tannins? It is amazing how it changes from year to year. One friend who makes wine said “you take grapes and then a miracle happens and you get wine”
Yes the wine is different each year, it is never the same in taste, but when there is a good year, it is sooo good!!! Via la difference!! This is what makes it interesting.I guess I am saying I would rathr have some great wine at times than ordinary wine all the time. I can get my share of cheap bland wine here at a good price. But it is so delightful to sip a really great wine once in a while. Oh how I remember that great Chambolle that I tasted..mmmnnn

Different Regions in Burgundy
· Chablis - white Chardonnay only 
· Cote de Nuits – Mostly red pinot noir, some chardonnay*
    o Dijon 
    o Marsonnay la Cote*
    o Fixin
    o Gevrey-Chambertin 
    o Morey-St-Denis 
    o Chambolle-Musigny 
    o Vosne-Romanee 
    o Vougeot 
    o Nuits St George
· Cote de Beaune - centered around the city of Beaune 
    o Corton 
    o Savigny 
    o Beaune 
    o Pommard 
    o Volnay 
    o Meursault 
    o Puligny-Montrachet 
    o St-Aubin 
    o Chassagne-Montrachet 
    o Santenay
· Cote Chalonnaise - 
    o Mercurey
· Maconnais - centered around the city of Macon 
    o Pouilly-Fuisse

Now the label should be easy...
1. The year of the Harvest. That is easy
2. Rully is the village and Les Margots is the specific vineyard
3. This is a bottle of Premier Cru (there is no Grand Cru in Rully)
4. AOC
5. The variety of wine (cepage) This is Chadonnay
6. Domaine. The is Domaine Breliere in Rully
7. Where it was bottled – this one states “put in bottle at the Domaine”
8. Region “BOURGOGNE” - Burgundy