jamie goode's wine blog: Burgundy: the perfect wine region?

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Burgundy: the perfect wine region?

A late night thought, for some discussion, perhaps. Is Burgundy the perfect wine region for geeks?

We have great red wines and great white wines. Very few regions can pull both off to this level. At the top end, Burgundy produces perhaps the most compelling red wines and white wines on this planet.

Just two grape varieties are grown here (conveniently forgetting Aligote, which is probably a bit mean, and the traces of white Pinots), but the diversity is provided by the various expressions of these varieties.

This diversity comes from both winegrowing/making choices and also the vineyard soils. The vineyards provide the latent potential; skilled growers and winemakers then try to fulfil this potential. Then each vintage adds its own complexion and mixes things round a little.

Providing you had a sufficient disposable income, you could devote yourself to Burgundy, drink its wines almost exclusively, and not grow bored for a very long time.

What I love the most about the region, though, is the very real connection between the wines and the vineyards they came from. That's special.



At 11:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It might be worth discussing the effect of Guy Accad in the 80s and 90s on a lot of top estates. Pinot can be so beautifully nuanced, but several growers decided to go for rich extraction and big tannins and lost the very soul of their wines.

At 12:52 AM, Anonymous Gavin Sherry said...

I think Burgundy, or specifically the Côte d'Or, is the region where the mystery of wine is most obvious. What I mean is, you have these factors: the vineyards are very small but contiguous; wines are made from parcels of these vineyards and labeled as such; thus, one can taste two wines side by side made from grapes grown close to each other, farmed and vinified in the same manner; vinification is usually simple and the details are usually disclosed in full to interested amateurs; vignerons are often eager for amateurs to try all cuvées they produce, from the most humble to the most rare. There are other factors that make it geeky though: it's hard to obtain the good stuff at the high end, there's a myth that it's complex and hard to understand and that there's a huge learning curve unlike any other wine region.

Personally, I think the most complex wine region in France is Alsace. There are a huge number of soil types, massive topological differences, a vast number of grands crus, a plethora of grape varieties, a very long history.

Personally, I drink Burgundy almost exclusively and find that I am never bored.

At 6:41 AM, Blogger billn said...

I think Gavin is biased - or is paid by the BIVB - he lives in Beaune you know...


At 9:38 AM, Blogger Andrew Halliwell said...

It´s an interesting question, and one that I´m sure could solicit a lot of debate. I haven´t tried many wines from Burgundy, nor have I been, so it´s hard to comment.

But I was wondering if I might get bored "just" drinking pinot noir, even if it is pretty beguiling and nuanced. So I´m going to throw in a few suggestions to see what the response is:

Clare Valley
Rhône Valley

In each of these 3 areas you get:
a) Vintage variation
b) Important terroir variations
c) Lots of passionate producers
d) Great red and white
e) History
f) Beautiful Scenery

And in each case, I´d say there´s less chance of being disappointed by a mid-priced (let´s 15 GBP) bottle than there is from Burgundy.

At 11:33 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love Burgundy as well but I would throw Piedmont into the argumentative mix.

Great history and a proud sense of tradition

Small vineyards on steep hills

Lots of organic viticulture

Fabulous terroir

The king of Italian grapes: Nebbiolo as well as a range of other interesting varieties: Barbera, Dolcetto, Freisa, Grignolino, Croatina, Arneis, Favorita, Cortese...

Like Pinot Nebbiolo is notoriously difficult to grow and is highly vintage sensitive.

Wines that work brilliantly with Piemontese cuisine


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