One more trip into France here on the blog, this time with ahere.
sip bottle of wine thanks to a lovely tour of Burgundy with Ivan of Authentica Tours. I learned so much on this wonderful tour and hope to pass some of that along to you without completely bogging you down with too many confusing details.
The gist of it all? If you are drinking a wine from Burgundy it is either Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, or Gamay (if drinking a Beaujolais). There are different classifications, which are based on terroir and history, which can help to guide you in terms of the quality of the wine you are about to drink right there on the bottle and can tell you exactly where the grapes in your wine are coming from: starting with the top at Grand Cru level, to Premiere Cru, Village, and ending with Regional.
This tour completely schooled me on my knowledge of Burgundy wines--which I thought was decent but realized quickly was not quite so. I had very little idea of the specifics, which are what make these wines truly spectacular. As we took the tour, we drove the back roads through many Premier and Grand Cru vineyards of the Cotes Nuits (a decent map of the region here. We drove the back roads from Fixin to Ladoix and then the highway to Beaune for a little personal wandering time). I learned that all of the villages and the vineyards bump right up next to one another--barely discernible to the normal eye. And within each vineyard there were multiple owners--one person does not own a whole plot of land. Because of certain laws within Burgundy, a parent's plot of land is divided up among all of their children, meaning there are certain plots that only contain a few rows. And barely noticeable changes in the land make up the different sub-regions, so many times nothing but a small road or a few feet separate a grand cru from a premiere cru vineyard.
We pulled onto the back roads of the vineyards near Fixin, the village where Ivan our tour guide grew up. A tiny, charming village on the hill.
|Our guide, Ivan, talking about the reasoning behind the height of the vines in comparison with those in California.|
|Old French vines grafted onto American roots.|
You can tell by the thickness of the vines that these are a little older. If taken care of a vine can live for 80-90 years. Then the growers will pull up the old vines, let the ground sit vacant for at least 5 years to allow the soil to regenerate some of the nutrients. They they will not use the grapes from the newly planted vines until they are at least 5 years old since older vines produce more flavorful grapes and better wine.
|This church dates back to 902.|
|These trees remind me of the Whomping Willow...|
|The land is so valuable, no bit is wasted. Vines grow right up to the edge of cemeteries throughout the countryside.|
|Just a road divides the terroir of these two vineyards.|
|Chateau de Vougeot|
|This tiny plot of land is part of a Grand Cru plot that extends on the other side of the road. The terroir of this plot is worth so much that a grower did not want to waste any bit of land.|
|You can see the differences between some plots showing how each grower has a different manner of caring for their vines.|
|A closer look at the soil--where it all begins.|
|The cross that is shows the edge of the Romanee Conti vineyard and is displayed on its bottles. This vineyard, whose wines are worth so much, is only 4.3 acres.|
|Chateau de Corton-Andre. Where we would finally taste some wine.|
|The line-up. The wines are all from Pierre Andre.|
Savigny-Les-Beaune 2007 Lemon, floral, big on the nose. Finishes like a lemon Starburst.
Mersault Premier Cru 2009 Honeysuckle, round, long finish.
Ladoix 2005 Pepper, garlic, like Provence on the nose. Light, easy drinking, easy tannins, slightly tart, rose and nutmeg.
Corton Grand Cru 2009 Plum, violet, slightly more tannic. Long finish.
Clos de Vougeot Grand Cru 2007 Brick colored, tannic, pepper and tomato jam.
Creme de Cassis We also got a taste of the sweet liquor made by the winery. It is mixed with the cheap white wine (aligote) of the region for an aperitif, or is used to drizzle on desserts or in recipes. Actually pretty lovely in small doses if you find the right producer--the one from Pierre Andre was luscious, thick and perfect for drizzling over a scoop of ice cream.
|Ivan explains how the shape of the glass can affect how you taste the wine.|
|Our tour group excited to finally taste the wine we've been learning about all day.|
|Wine being aged in the cave below the Chateaux. The temperature down here is nice and cool all year round despite the weather outside, perfect for keeping the wines at an even temperature.|
|Unlabeled wine aging in the cellars.|
|The gorgeous tasting room in the caves.|
|The view from the front door of the Chateaux. We tasted wine made from the grapes right beyond the trees/car (Ladoix).|
|Wandering around Beaune for an hour before our return trip to Dijon|