The AOCs system in Burgundy is a very specific one. Unique in the country.
There are basicly 4 different levels of quality. From the lowest to the highest:
In total, around 150 separate AOCs are used in Burgundy, including those of Chablis and Beaujolais.
(Click on the pyramid to enlarge it)
The notion of Terroir
The soil is what makes the different characteristics of a wine, so the geology is the key opening the quality door. (Limestone is the most common stone to be found in the Burgundy soils). But the climate (what we can also call the vintage) is also very important for the quality of the grapes and the health of the vines.
Monks and monasteries of the Roman Catholic Church had a huge influence on the history of Burgundy wines.
The cistercians monks, founded in 1098, named after the town of Cîteaux created Burgundy largest wall-surrounded vineyard named the Clos de Vougeot in 1336. They were the first to notice that different vineyard plots gave very different wines. Thus, they laid the earliest basis giving access to this notion of Terroir.
Terroir is meant to explain the specific geography and climate of a certain place interacing with the plants genetics. Very important to know: a terroir does not exist without the human beings’ influence.
It is the result of the climate specifities of a particular year. If we always mention the year of the harvest on the bottle, is to show the impact of the weather on the grapes quality, and then on the wine. Each vintage is unique.
The slope, on which we generally have the best plots, giving birth to the “Grands Crus” plays the role of a drainer when it rains in Burgundy. Indeed, there is never a surplus of water. All the rain is conducted to the Bourgogne plots (generaly located on flat and deep soils). The water is just here to provide quantity. Speaking of wines, quantity is always the opposite of quality.
To produce an axcellent wine, we have to produce a small quantity of it, that is why in the Grands Crus plots, we have a small amount of water, so a small amount of juice, and a high concentration. The rate between the skins and the juice is well balanced.
The higher we are on the classification ladder, the longer we can keep the wines (due to the concentration of them)
The work of the human beings is also important too, because it gives some differences to the same appellations we can find in several wineries (one plot is very often divided into a lot of different “domaines” : winelakers’ estate. Each winemaker owns several ROWS, in several PLOTS, in several TOWNS. That is why, even if Burgundy is a little region, way smaller than the one of Bordeaux for instance, a lot of diversity is to be discovered here).
As nature is the main key factor, human beings cannot, of course, control everything. Thus, even if you are the best winemaker on earth and you only own the lowest kind of quality fields, you will never be able to make a Bourgogne wine as good as a Grand Cru wine.
Geology, Climate, Slope / water draining and human beings are what explain this famous and more-real-than-ever notion of TERROIR.
Situated between Gevrey-Chambertin and Chambolle Musigny, this wine producing village is the smallest appellation in the Côte de Nuits. However, it is also one of the most important ones, since half of its surface is Premier or Grand Cru!
Surprise! – The history of this village is closely associated to the Cistercian monks. It is the Cistercian nuns of Notre-Dame de Tart who first exploited one of the most famous climats of the village – the Clos de Tart.
Historically, Morey-saint-Denis is also associated to its big and powerful neighbor, Gevrey-Chambertin. In the mid 1930s, they even sold their wines under the name Gevrey.
Morey-saint-Denis is famous for being very fragmented. An example – it has twenty Premiers Crus, so almost as many as Gevrey-Chambertin (26), but on a vineyard only a third of its size. These vineyards are very small; only three of them are over three hectares! So unfortunately, many of them are blended and sold under the appellation Morey Premier Cru, with no plot or climat name. This is unfortunate in the sense that it diminishes the identity not only of each climat, but also of the town itself.
Morey-saint-Denis produces five grands crus: Clos de Tart, Bonnes Mares, Clos de la Roche, Clos saint Denis and Clos des Lambrays. Not bad for such a small town !
The wines produced in Morey-saint-Denis are typical of the Côte de Nuits; they are tannic and full-bodied, and go extremely well with strong red meats. Many Morey-saint-Denis lovers also recommend a washed-rind cheese such as a Fromage des Citeaux.
This village is also famous for is old vines – and the explanation for this may not be a pleasant one. Being in the shadow of their famous neighbor Gevrey-Chambertin, many of the wine makers in Morey could not afford to rip out their vines, so kept those planted by their grandfathers.
- Surface: 96 ha
- Grape varieties: Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Blanc
Crémant de Bourgogne
As we have just published our new website, it seemed logical to write an article around our new tour – “Bubbles & Elegance: Sparkling Burgundy”!
Crémant de Bourgogne all started in the 19th century, when two brothers in the Côte Chalonnaise hired a cooper from Champagne. This cooper, François Hubert Basile, is at the origin of sparkling wine in Burgundy.
In 1826, the first bottle of Crémant was commercialized under the name “Fleur de Champagne – Qualité Supérieure” – a year later, over a million bottles were sold!
Winemakers started producing Crémant de Bourgogne all over Burgundy, and in 1975, the Appellation is created.
This sparkling wine is produced in four departments: Yonne, Côte d’Or, Saône-et-Loire and Rhône. It can be made by combining several different grape varieties, with a minimum of 30% of either Chardonnay or Pinot Noir, or both.
Blanc de Blancs is made up of only white grape varieties and Blanc de Noirs of Pinot Noir only. The former is bright, acid and slightly mineral, whereas the latter is of a darker golden hue, fruitier, and has a better structure.
Official website: http://www.cremantdebourgogne.fr/cremant/
If you feel like discovering the Crémant de Bourgogne with a specialist, feel free to book a tour!
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Morbier is an aromatic and surprisingly mild French cow’s milk AOC cheese defined by the dark vein of vegetable ash streaking through it middle. Today, the ash is purely decorative, a nod to the method by which Morbier was once produced in Franche-Comté. Traditionally, the evening’s fresh curds were sprinkled with ash to prevent the formation of a rind overnight. The next morning, new curds were laid upon the thin layer of ash to finish off the wheel. The wheel was then washed and rubbed by hand, forming a rind to protect the rich, creamy interior and to create a delectably stinky aroma. Morbier, which is aged for at least 60 days, pleasantly confounds expectations. Contrary to its smell, Morbier has a mild taste and leaves a wonderful, nutty aftertaste. Morbier is excellent served with Gewürztraminer or Pinot Noir.
Try this cheese is also wonderful with a Gevrey-Chambertin that has had the opportunity to age several years. The creaminess of this cheese matches the velvelty tannins of this wine.
Tip: accompany this wonderful desert with a sweet wine such as a Madeira or a Sauternes, and if not sweet, try the a dry and sparkling Crémant de Bourgogne!
Friday’s Cheese: Le Petit Creux!Its rind is smooth or slightly wrinkled. It is both supple and firm.A good cheese should be treated like a good wine: served at room temperature, in order to release all its aromas.It is wonderful with a glass of Marc de Bourgogne (from which it acquires its distinctive character), or with a powerful red wine such as a Santenay!
Eventhough it has a strong British heritage, America has embraced the apple pie to the point that it’s now considered a quintessentially American dessert. American pies often look like the ones from those Desperate Dan comics = robust and full of attitude.
For this pie, any type of berry can be used; blackberries, rasberries, red currents, huckleberries… They are all good!
The pastry can be made by hand, or in the food processor.
500g plain flour
100g icing sugar
a pinch of salt
250g unsalted butter, chilled and cut into cubes
2 large eggs
a splash of milk
10 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and halved
juice and zest of 2 oranges
7 heaped tablespoons caster sugar
400g huckleberries, blueberries, or rasberries
1 heaped tablespoon plain flour
1 large egg
a small handful of demerara sugar
If you are making the pastry by hand, sieve the flour, icing sugar and salt from a height into a large mixing bowl. Use your fingertips to gently work the cubes of butter into the flour and sugar until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Transfer a handful of this mixture to a separate bowl, rub it between your fingers to get larger crumbs, then put aside. Add the eggs and milk to the main mixture and gently work it together until you have a bail of pastry dough. Don’t work it too much at this stage – you want to keep it crumbly and short. Sprinkle a little flour over the pastry, then wrap it in cling film and pop it into the fridne to rest for 1 hour.
Meanwhile, put the apples into a large pan with the zest and juice of 1 orange, a splash of water, and 5 tablespoons of caster sugar. Cover the pan and simmer on a medium heat for 10 minutes, until the aopples have softened but still hold their shape. Remove from the heat and leave to cool. Scrunch a handful of berries in a bowl with the remaining caster sugar and the zest and juice of your remaining orange. Add the rest of the berries. Toss the cooled apples and their juices in a large bowl with the berries and the flour, then put aside.
Preheat your oven to 180°C/350°F/ gas 6. Take your ball of pastry out of the fridge and let it come up to room temperature. Get yourself a pie dish around 28 cm in diameter. Flour a clean surface and a rolling pin. Cut off a third or your pastry and put that piece to one side. Roll the rest into a circle about 0.5 cm thick, dusting with flour as you go. Roll the circle of pastry up over your rolling pin, then gently unroll it over the pie dish. Push it into the sides, letting any excess pastry hang over the edge. Tip in the fruit filling and brush all around the edge of the pastry with some of the beaten egg. Roll out the smaller ball of pastry about 0.5 cm thick and use your rolling pin to lay it over the top of the pie. Brush it all over with more beateb egg, reserving a little. Sprinkle over the reserved crumble mixture and the demerara sugar.
Fold the scruffy edges of pastry hanging over the sides back over the pie, sealing the edge by twisting or crimping it as you like. Brush these folded edges with your remaining beaten egg. Using a small, sharp knife, cut a cross into the middle of the pie. Place on the bottom of the oven and bake for 45 to 55 minutes, until golden and beautiful. Serve with ice cream, cream or custard.
An Italian sweet wine is wonderful with this dessert, such as a Moscato d’Asti.