The famous region in France has nothing to do with the 3 liter or gallon jug of wine on the bottom shelf at the grocery store. The term “Burgundy Wine” was coined by the E and J Gallo winery in the 1960’s to appeal to the American palate. Ernest and Julio Gallo’s “Hearty Burgundy” was sourced of predominantly Zinfandel grapes grown in Sonoma County, it was a pretty decent value, blended jug wine that sold well in to the 1980’s. Likewise their “Chablis Blanc” was also a well marketed jug blend of semi- sweet white varietals that sold well in the 1970’s an early 80’s. The French were somewhat perturbed with the California wine industry for bastardizing their sacred place name.
France, as we have learned in previous blogs, makes their wine by varietals from regions that you will find on the label. Burgundy is a 35 mile long approximately 15 mile wide strip of land where some of the most expensive and sought after Chablis (Chardonnay) and Burgundy (Pinot Noir) are produced according to their rigid government standards. The only other wine varietals you need to know that are from Burgundy aside from Chardonnay and Pinot Noir are Aligote’, Pinot Gris and Gamay, all of which has nothing to do with “jug wine”. In Burgundy there are four quality levels:
1. Bourgogne Blanc – white varietals that can be blended from within the region (Chardonnay, Aligote, Pinot Gris) that are often bottled young.
2. Village – wines from a specific area or appellation noted on the label.
3. Premier Cru -10% of Burgundy wines are Premier Cru, they often see a bit more aging and come from the top regions.
4. Grand Cru- only 33 vineyards are a part of the “Grand Cru” vineyards of Burgundy, highly coveted and highly priced.
White Burgundy or Bourgogne Blanc is the entry level tier of Chardonnay, an unoaked, simply made wine with the pure flavors of the fruit; apple and mineral generally. Grapes used for this label can come from anywhere in the Bourgogne region.
Chablis is the northern most appellation in Burgundy where the soils are chalky and the wines show more minerality. Most are unoaked, but Grand Cru producers will age in neutral oak which gives the wine a richer taste profile. All of the wines produced here are white Chardonnay, and Chablis has it’s own classification- Petite Chablis, Chablis, Premier Cru Chablis, and Grand Cru Chablis.
Cotes de Beaune is in the southern part of the “Golden Slope” known as Cote d’ Or, named after the town of Beaune. The principal Village appellations of the region are Corton, Corton Charlemagne, Beaune, Pommard, Volnay, Puligny Montrachet and Chassagne Montrachet. These wines are some of the most sought after, full bodied whites (Chardonnays) made in the world.
Cotes de Nuits was named after Walnut trees, most of the wines produced here are red Pinot Noir. Vosnee Romanee, Vougeot and Morey St Denis; producing some of the most famous and expensive Pinot Noir in the world.
Cote Chalonnaise has no Grand Cru Vineyards, but the wines produced here can be stellar. Great values from Sparkling Crémant to Pinot Noir. The area around the town of Givry is known for more than 13 different soil types, giving each producer different character. There are many good value wines made in Chalonnaise.
Maconnais lies nearly in between northern and southern France, producing Chardonnay featuring limestone and granite flavors like those from Pouilly Fuisse’. Check out some of these wines from Burgundy we have on our shelves here at Ed’s.
Domaine Sangouard Guyot Pouilly Fuisse Terroirs
From the Maconnais, this Chardonnay shows flavors of apple, melon and pear, with a hint of wet rock on the finish. I give it three bones.
Comtes de Saint Martin Chablis
Saint Martin- the patron saint of Chablis, this Chardonnay expresses aromas of white flowers and boasts flavors of crisp apple and honeydew melon. I give it three bones.
Macon Uchizy Les Maranches
Certified Biodynamic farm practices, this 100% Chardonnay from the Macon is aged on the lees for 7 to 8 months prior to bottle aging. The wine exhibits a limestone nose with fresh fruit flavors of lemon and pear. I give it three bones.
Albert Bichot Grand vin de Bourgogne Savigny Les Beaune
Rich dark blackberry and raspberry fruit, from the Cote D’ Or region, just a hint of leather on the back, medium bodied, and age worthy. I give it three bones.
We carry many good examples of Burgundy wine here at Ed’s and hope you’ll give us a call to pre order, or stop by and say hello while you shop. I will greet you with a wag of my tail and show you to the French wine aisle! Au re voir for now!