Are you a wine enthusiast who is looking to learn more about the world of Burgundy wines? Have you heard a few things here and there but need help figuring out how to get started?
This blog post will answer some of the most frequently asked questions about Burgundy wine. Whether you’re just starting your exploration or have advanced knowledge of the region, this article will help you better understand this unique, complex type of wine.
1. What Are the Classifications of Burgundy Wine?
The grape variety is rarely listed on the label of Burgundy wine bottles, giving them a cryptic appearance. Instead, they assume that consumers readily equate Chablis with Chardonnay, Beaujolais with Gamay, etc.
On the label, however, you will always find information about the wine’s origin, vintage, vineyard ranking, and producer. The geographical designation is usually listed before the grower’s name. The vineyard’s name will appear underneath if the wine is a Premier Cru.
The terminology is commonly written after the “1er cru” Because Grand Cru vineyards are granted their appellations, the commune name is omitted. In some cases, the label will also include the vintage year and the amount of alcohol.
2. What Is the History of Wine in Burgundy?
With background information, an essential guide to Burgundy wines would be sufficient. A few million years ago, Burgundy was submerged in water, forming its limestone and marl a limestone-clay mix soil. This soil composition is responsible for the esteemed minerality of Burgundian wines.
Burgundy’s wine history dates back to approximately 50 BC. Before the Roman conquest of Burgundy, it is thought that the Celts produced wine. The Romans picked up where the Celts had left off with winemaking, but with the fall of the Roman Empire, the Catholic church took over.
Around 900, Benedictine monks held and farmed most of the region’s land, but Cistercian monks elevated Burgundian wine craft two centuries later. Cistercian monks who took vows of poverty felt that arduous labour brought them closer to God.
In addition to nurturing the steep Burgundian hillsides, the monks employed an academic approach to winemaking. They maintained precise records and invented the term “terroir,” which refers to the influence of the wine’s environment on its flavour. In 1336, Cistercians planted the first enclosed Burgundian vineyard, Clos Vougeot, which continues to produce wine today.
Burgundy’s dukes governed the region in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. In 1395, due to the popularity of Pinot Noir wine, Duke Phillipe prohibited the growth of Gamay grapes. Later, he forbade manure as a fertiliser, enhancing grape yield but diminishing flavour. In the late 15th century, Burgundy became a part of France, which was still a monarchy.
Following the French Revolution, the church’s property was seized and sold at auction to private owners. As a result of Code Napoléon, the land was partitioned multiple times over multiple generations. This rule dictated that all children receive an equal share of their inheritances. It is typical for a chateau to have dozens of proprietors, each owning a few rows of land.
3. How Should It Be Served?
Some believe that wine should be drunk without pretence and that there is no place for “rules” in its consumption. However, solid counsel can substantially enhance your experience.
It is essential to serve both red and white Burgundy at the proper temperature. The finest Chardonnay wines are complex and well-structured; serving them at a temperature that is too cool dulls the flavours and aromas. It is excellent to serve white Burgundy at temperatures between 9 and 11 degrees Celsius.
Red Burgundy reaches its peak at 16 degrees Celsius. As with aged wines, white wines served too cold are destroyed. In contrast, a slightly cooled red Beaujolais or young Pinot Noir from the Côte Chalonnaise can be extremely pleasant in the summer.
Some red wines are more refreshing when served chilled (rather than cold). Depending on the bottle’s age and origin, 12 to 14 degrees Celsius is the perfect serving temperature.
Burgundians disapprove of decanting because they view it as a waste of time. However, many critics claim that decanting red and white Burgundy enhances the pleasure of the wine by releasing its aromas. It depends on individual preference.
4. When Is the Best Time to Consume It?
Depending on the grape variety, terroir, and vintage, several growers award their wines a “perfect drinking window.” It is difficult to estimate when a wine will reach its peak drinking age. However, one can make an educated guess based on the level of grape tannin (Pinot Noir has modest tannin levels compared to grapes like Cabernet Sauvignon) and vintage style.
Tannin is an essential preservative that permits certain wines to age for decades. Some good wines age for longer than anticipated. In contrast, others mature rapidly due to storage circumstances (aggressive changes in temperature and heightened humidity levels, for example, can increase the rate of oxidation in wine bottles).
Premier/Grand Cru In general, red and white Burgundies will develop and improve for up to a decade, and sometimes longer, following release. The structure of white wines, such as Meursault, derives from acidity rather than tannin. The same logic applies to lighter varieties of red wine, such as Beaujolais. Nevertheless, regardless of hue, there is no need to rush to open your finest wines from excellent vintages.
Both red and white village wines can be matured for at least two to five years. Premier Cru red Burgundy can benefit from seven to twelve years of bottle ageing, whereas Chardonnay can profit from six to eight years of bottle ageing. It is common for leading red Grand Crus, such as La Tache, to achieve their peak after 20 years or more in the bottle.
Finally, the choice is yours to make. A Grand Cru from Gevrey-Chambertin that is five years old will satisfy the most discerning wine connoisseur. However, it may lack the depth of a more contemporary illustration.
Personal preference is always essential for wine enjoyment, and some individuals may prefer the youthful vigour of young wines. Additionally, it would help if you considered the vintage conditions. A Grand Cru wine from a lighter year, such as 2013, will reach peak maturity much faster than a bottle from a rich and tannic vintage like 2015.
Knowing the Most Sought-After Wines
These common questions about Burgundy wine are only the beginning of your education about this world-renowned area. This information will aid you in selecting a Burgundian wine from a store or menu that matches your preferences.
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