Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Burgundy Wines 101

Understanding the wines of Burgundy is like learning to read and being told to immediately tuck into War & Peace; like learning the piano and being asked to play Rachmaninoff. You get the idea....there are so many terroirs, the conditions of each year are so different. The boys told me they wanted to go wine tasting on the trip and to understand "the difference between an OK bottle of wine and a great bottle of wine." I said, "Oh, the difference is about $60, but we'll discuss it."
With little time, I did my best at a Wine 101 tour for the boys: two driving tours, north and south of Beaune, three tastings and a visit to Clos Vougeot.
A trip to Burgundy, for me, is not complete without a visit to a certain cellar where you can taste the best wine on offer from the best vineyards. Some tastings are of course only a single vinters production, but it's great to sample the same grape varietal in the same village from different parcels and different vintners and see how the terroir and human intervention produce different wine. Heavy on Puligny Montrachet and Chassagne Montrachet but many others -- the best-- are on stock at this certain cellar. Anyway, we took all afternoon and we went through the normal battery. First whites, then reds. I take notes on all tastings here, and as you can see I trained Dennis to do the same. This way we can decide what we like and keep a short list and then arrive at a final purchase list; the key details are written down: vintner, year, parcel, tasting notes and price.
In the end, we bought about 18 bottles in the Beaune area; all made it home except a half bottle. We came home with Puligny Montrachet, Chassagne Montrachet, Cote de Nuits, Cote de Beaune, Clos Vougeot; it is all hidden away, ready for a fabulous Chrismas or something!

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