By Bruce Cochran
Let’s start off the new year discussing the roots of some of our favorite wine grapes, and learn what some commonly misunderstood wine words actually mean.
Have a great 2007!
France’s Burgundy region is home to some of the world’s greatest, and most expensive wines—both white and red. Some of Burgundy’s vineyards date back at least 2,000 years. Around 150 years ago Burgundian chardonnay and pinot noir vines, along with vines from other regions and varieties, were taken to California and other parts of the New World.
So when somebody says the word ‘Burgundy’ the experienced wine lover will assume they mean the region in east central France between Dijon (which actually is the mustard capital) and Lyon. A less experienced person will think of box wines or jug wines.
Most French wines are named for where the grapes were grown, and the type of grape is rarely listed. That’s because the place names are controlled and can be used on the label only if the wine is made from the traditional varieties that made the town or vineyard famous in the first place. Burgundy’s white wines by law are made from chardonnay unless they tell you otherwise on the label. (The reds are made from pinot noir grapes.)
The best white wines in Burgundy are from the town of Chablis or a subregion called Cote de Beaune (the towns of Beaune, Meursault, Puligny-Montarchet or Chassagne-Montrachet). The second best are from a subregion called Cotes-Chalonnaise (Macon-Villages, Pouilly-Fuisse, Pouilly-Vinzelles). All of them exhibit the “Burgundian” style, crisp and elegant, though each has its own subtle variation on the theme due to soil differences and microclimates.
The Chablis from Christian Moreau is typical of the area, emphasizing elegance and finesse, crisp acidity and a clean finish. Little to no oak, just pure chardonnay fruit in a food friendly style. A good choice as an aperitif or as a match with lighter dishes like grilled trout. French Chablis is also a traditional wine to serve with oysters. Retail price approximately $25.
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