By Wendy VanHatten
So many choices … so little time. Planning a trip to Burgundy, we decided to become a little more familiar with the wines and the area before we went. Checking out a wine importer’s shop, we quickly discovered that exploring the different wines could be a year-long experiment. That’s okay. We’ll give it a start.
With that in mind, we purchased several to explore. We knew where we would be staying, so wanted to try some wines from somewhat close to that area. Then, if we loved them we could check out that specific area or winemaker more closely. This was going to be fun discerning the nuances and details of each wine…or at least trying to.
Even though the grape is the same, we drink enough wines to know these would not all taste the same. Different wine makers, different terroir and hills, different sunlight, individual microclimates, and different valleys all lend their own special taste. Then there are the vineyards and where they sit on the hill or on the valley floor. How much wind do they feel?
Understanding how a Grand Cru differs from a Premier Cru was only one nuance. How it is listed on the bottle, whether the village is listed, and realizing the name of the Grand Cru gives no indication of its location…this was a learning experience different than merely tasting the wines.
Being used to how Napa Valley Cabernets are listed on their bottles, we learned it is more important for the region and winemaker to be listed than the name of the vineyard or winery. Bottles in France list the classification of the wine on the label so you can easily tell where it stands in the classification scale. This doesn’t mean, however, that the rating is related to quality. It relates to the controls that have been made on that production. How then do we know or hope to drink a great bottle of wine? Look for the producer’s name as it is the best guarantee of quality.
We are headed to the town of Beaune, built in the 13th and 14th centuries. It is a compact town built around a center circle.
Formidable towers and thick walls built with military defense in mind now are great places to store wine. How about that…built in wine storage units for the winemakers.
Our tastings at our home have started us on our journey to experience Burgundy wines in their home. This would be our own special voyage of discovery…both tasting before we went and tasting while in Burgundy.
For us, it doesn’t get much better than that.
To Be Continued…