Understanding Bourgogne. A Journey of Spirit & Soul.

The village and vineyards of Saint-Sernin-du-Plain in Bourgogne, France

What is it about Bourgogne that makes it so compelling?

The regions are diverse and varied.

So much so that it can be a grand undertaking to absorb all that the region has to offer.  I’ve traveled to Bourgogne several times over the last few years and am always discovering new things I didn’t know before.  To learn from the comfort of my home during these trying times was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up.

Learning about wine, winemaking or regions, especially those with a vast and complex history is rewarding. Particularly, Bourgogne, a region so steeped in history, tradition and protocol. So to have a few more doors opened was truly beautiful.

Barrels of Burgundy
Maconnais is the region of the Macon AOC in Bourgogne France
The stunning region of Maconnais. Photo courtesy of Vins de Bourgogne

Take for one the topic of Climat. Initially one may assume, at first glance, it refers to climate. Climate is just one component of the term. It boils down the the precise location of the vineyards. And the specific characteristics of the plot.

The word has origins that go back to the middle ages. The climat are very specifically named for the hydrometry, geological make up and exposure to the elements. Climat is next of kin with “lieux-dits” (a small geographical area) and the Clos (A small enclosed or walled vineyard). Certainly with very strict rules and requirements for growing and processing wine. Very different from the single descriptor or limited information we are used to in the US.

Next there are the appellations. 84 which are more than 23% of all the AOCs (Appellations d’Origine Contrôlée) within the Bourgogne region. Each under the guidance and strict system of qualification and certification of the AOC.

With so many food friendly wines in Bourgogne, we often spend time coveting the most expensive or the most well known, when in fact there are numerous more affordable and equally tasty wines from the Mâcon AOC. This includes Mâcon Villages (a step up in quality from Mâcon) which has 27 Mâcon different Villages. Known for their dry white wine, primarily unoaked Chardonnay.

Tasting the village of Mâcon-Uchizy the designation created in 2005 and covers 43 hectares. It is just one of the 27 villages in the AOC. Mâconnais is the appellation which is almost 100% Chardonnay. The village of Uchizy has under 46 hectares of wine under vine. The winery, Chateau Giroud, sells this wine for just $13 in the US. It was rich, flavorful, well balanced, solid structure and a complexity you don’t see in wine in this price range. If I’d seen it on the shelf in a wine store, I might have been hesitant to try it.

Understanding Bourgogne. A Journey of Spirit & Soul.
In the vineyards of Bourgogne with friends. Photo courtesy of Vins de Bourgogne
After my experience with the wine of Bourgogne and the many clarifications and examples of the many terms and categories, I will go forth with more confidence and choose wine that is based on its unique village, instead of simply looking for the Cru. There is a wealth of excellent wine out there. Incredible quality, taste and balance at incredibly affordable prices all waiting to be discovered by you!

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Understanding Bourgogne. A Journey of Spirit & Soul.

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Understanding Bourgogne. A Journey of Spirit & Soul.