Tuesday, May 11, 2010

{ Burgundy Wines + "Thinking, Eating and Drinking" Part 4 }

Burgundy and its wines are legendary in the wine world. The complexity, fullness and style of a great Pinot Noir from Cote de Nutis, is something that wine connoisseurs from around the world will agree upon. The Chardonnays from Chablis and the Cote de Beaune have preserved their originality and perfection. The topography of Burgundy’s vineyards is far less spectacular than elsewhere. The steepness of the land and its south facing orientation are less dominant factors, with most of the grand crus in the Cote d’Or. The climate is neither warm nor especially dry.

The reputation of Burgundy’s classification system is exemplary. The Appellation d’Origine Controlee (A.O.C.) covers the following elements: the variety of the grape(s), traditional win-growing techniques, the wine’s minimum and maximum alcohol content and its typical style. It is essentially a symbol of quality.

Burgundy has 100 appellations which are divided into four levels – Regional, Local, Premier Cru and Grand Cru. The Grand Cru appellations has wine that are grown on the best plots in the villages, with thirty two in Côte d’Or and one in Chablis.

Wines produced in the Burgundy region are among the most sought after, rare and pricy wines. Wines often begin at $40 to $50 per bottle and increase from there. In addition, a large number are rare with small lot productions. It is one of the most complex regions in France producing lush wines. The key to fantastic Burgundy wines is the weather and soil along with minimal intervention. The subtleties equal the flavor which is extremely powerful.

We began our journey with a taste of 2008 Lamblin Bourgogne Blanc as a palate awakener. It is 100% chardonnay with light oak, good acid and a wonderful richness. Hints of pear, vanilla, grapefruit and citrus were quite apparent. By now we have moved to the kitchen to discuss and taste wine while Suzanne prepares the food. In a large pot, golden fingerling potatoes were steaming. Our second taste was being poured – a 2007 Gerard Tremblay “Fourchaume”, which was a Premier Cru, aged in neutral wood. This wine has charm, elegance, is silky and stylish.

The steamed fingerling potatoes were tossed with Normandy butter, salt and a few grinds of pepper. Chad proceeded to toss a good amount onto a large plate and set on the middle of the kitchen island. Everyone grabbed a fork, stabbed a potato and tasted it with the wine. Then sautéed baby shitake mushrooms were added to the plate and the level was increased. The pairing was brilliant, however the next wine, a 1999 Domaine Du Chateau De Puligny-Montrachet “Les Chalumeaux” was a magnificent match. The creaminess of the potato and wine together was a true pairing that was pure heaven in your mouth. This wine is a Premier Cru with subtle floral aroma and elegant minerality.

Each week the wine selections are magical and interesting. This next wine, 1999 Lopez De Heredia “Vina Gravonia” was by far the most attention-grabbing wine of the class. We ventured away for a few minutes to Spain for this well balanced, full and lively wine. Aromas and flavors of almond, tea, caramel, orange peel, white flowers and pine were present. It would pair beautifully with a roast chicken with truffle oil.

Suzanne’s pairing choices are exemplary and tonight’s menu exceeded our expectations. She prepared a Duck Confit salad with assorted farmer’s market greens, sherry vinegar (Vinagre de Terez) and rich olive oil. Chards of shredded duck were tossed together with the greens and sautéed mushrooms to create a masterpiece. Sautéed cipollini onions in butter and earthy bread accompanied the main course.

Are you seeing red? I hope so. A trio of Pinot Noir were poured simultaneously to enjoy with the Duck Confit Salad and accruements. First was 2007 Domaine Du Chateau De Puligny-Montrachet Bourgogne Rouge. It has a beautifully perfumed nose of bright cherry fruit, with medium body and a very pretty finish along with hints of the terrior. Next was a 2007 Handley “Mendocino” Pinot Noir with a deep red color and the nose delivered cherry with hints of chocolate and spice (cloves perhaps). The wine is light-to-medium bodied, fruit forward with soft tannins and nice acidity culminating in a medium finish. Our last wine was a 2007 Kazmer & Blaise “Primo’s Hill” Pinot Noir. Produced from a small seven acre vineyard, it has hints of smoke, dark cherry, silky mouthfeel and a full & firm finish.

Tonight we learned and explored just the tip of the iceberg as it relates to Burgundy wines. The pairings were perfect and interesting. The conversations were enlightening and the knowledge shared invaluable. I have now added a trip to the Burgundy region in France to my ever growing bucket list.

(Photo from google images)


  1. I really like pinot noir wines the best. I think I have a little trouble with tannins and the pinot noirs don't bother me at all. I love learning about wine through your experiences!

  2. Marly - glad that there is some valuable information. Two more classes to post, then I will have to sign up for another series. Love it!


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