If you fancy a Continental holiday, Burgundy is a lovely part of France. Its main road, the A6, runs right through the wine growing areas too, which makes it ideal for stopping off at vineyards along the way. Although, maybe your driving companion should be a teetotaller. Going through the Burgundy map from North to South, you’ll quickly notice that there’s a huge variety in the region’s wines.
Starting at the Top of the Burgundy Map – Chablis
This region is famous for its Chardonnay. Yet remember that there’s Chablis and then there’s Chablis. The very best has ‘Grand Cru’ status, and will require you to remortgage your house. The lowest quality can be picked up in any supermarket. It’ll have trace amounts of green fruit flavours, while it may have been crudely oaked with batons rather than an actual barrel. It certainly won’t have the minerality of the Grand Cru Chablis. The best examples are complex with good acidity too. They’ll also have lemon flavours, and you won’t detect the green fruit of the poorer examples.
Next Stop – Côte de Nuits
Burgundy’s best wines are made here. To see what we mean, take a peek at the selection that we stock, which includes Domaine de la Romanée Conti. The 2001 bottle will set you back a whopping €14,900. It also has 93 points from international wine critic Robert Parker, and an intense perfume of rose blossom. In general, the area produces the most full bodied wines with the best capacity for ageing in Burgundy.
Drop by Côte de Beaune
Here, the reds are lighter bodied. Yet it’s the white wines which are really something to write home about, and they may just be the very best in the world. The whites are made from Chardonnay. Restricted production, and optimum growing conditions mean the Grand Cru wines are very strongly flavoured. Oaking gives the wine more toasty notes than are found in Chablis too. The wines can become even more complex and full bodied by stirring the lees. Just sell the family jewels before visiting.
Take Lunch at Côte Chalonnaise
The wines may not be as high quality as those at the last two stops. Yet they are fairly close in character, and have much smaller price tags. If you’re looking for a bargain, this is the stop for you. However the wine will age faster, so you won’t be able to brag about owning them for long. The village of Mercurey is where quality peaks, if you’re looking for the very best.
Move on to Mâconnais
You’ll notice that the weather feels a touch warmer here. The landscape starts to resemble the South of France, and wine production competes with dairy farming, as the soil is good for either. If you can, try to visit the village ‘Chardonnay’ which is where the grape gets its name from. For the most part, the area produces so-so table wine. Yet there are many good examples of whites with appley or lemon and limey flavours, as well as good acidity with a slightly above medium body. Occasionally, malolactic fermentation gives the wine some creaminess. Yet if you’re looking for the good stuff, look out for the few sites with a cult following. Mâcon Villages AC or any of the named Mâcon Village ACs produce fantastic Chardonnays, and Lugny is particular gem.
End the Day with a Glass of Beaujolais
That’s good advice at any time. Yet at the bottom of Burgundy, you’ll find the famous Beaujolais region, with its juicy, fruity, young red wines. If you like summer fruit flavours but hate bitter tannins, this is your kind of region. Gamay grapes are carbonically macerated to produce a very smooth, fruity wine. Beaujolais Villages is where you’ll find the bottles with the greatest ageing potential, and to see what we’re talking about try Marcel Lapierre Morgon. Expect raspberry, cherry and even bubblegum flavours.
More Wine to Consider:
If you’re after food choices for Burgundy wine, read ‘Chickens Should Be Afraid of Dry White Burgundy Wine’. It has some really novel suggestions too.