Burgundy is really one of those places that is great to use to explain a few more general things. Last post I was saying about terroir and how everywhere in the world has it and is affected by it, but Burgundy’s one of those places where it’s easy to highlight the big differences it makes.
I decided to use the last post in this intro to Burgundy series for another of these topics. That’s the fact that when you think of a wine region, like Burgundy (or Piemonte in Italy, or Barossa in Australia, or Finger Lakes in the US, etc) i guess you have this thing in your head that you think “right I’ve had a Pinot Noir from there before, i know what this is going to be like”. But to be massively annoying, it’s just not like that .
Thing is, these regions can be pretty big areas of land covering some really different areas of a country. We’ve spoken before about how things like hills and valleys, soils and stones, and obviously the weather and climate have massive effect on how a wine, from grape to glass (can’t remember where i nicked that from?!). Well Burgundy has the lot, somewhere within the border.
Burgundy’s over of the eastern side of France, pretty landlocked. It starts up close to the Champagne area, with the Yonne Valley going south to the Côte de Nuits, then onto the Côte de Beaune, and finishing down by the Beaujolias region with the Côte Chalonnaise and the Maçonnais.
Up north in the Yonne region (where Chablis is) it’s hilly and frosty. You’re right up by a town called Auxerre and that’s only a couple of hours drive from the north of France. Then down south by Lyon (a couple of hours from Nice and Monaco) you’ve got the Maçonnais. It’s a lot flatter, much warmer, and vines spend their time vying for space with cows and corn on the valley floor. I’m not going to bang on about the differences in every different sub-region here, I think you get the point.
The generalisation comes from the grapes and, to a large extent, the way the wine is made. It’s a branding exercise in itself. You can make a sweeping statement about the chances of a white wine from Burgundy being chardonnay, or that centuries old Burgundian winemaking techniques are in full swing up and down the region. But it stops there, as it does for wines from Napa in California or Walker Bay in South Africa.
The best bits about this are that you have an excuse to try more of it and that if you ever get a chance to go to one of these places, it’s a great holiday. If you enjoy your wine and your cycling or hiking you’d be like a pig in poo round here.
So wherever you end up for a wine holiday dust off the bike clips and saddle up, or get the walking boots from the back of the cupboard and load up on blister plasters. It’s time to get moving. And if you’re in Burgundy, well hopefully you know roughly where you’re going now!