Wine tasting in Burgundy – the finale!

We’ve titled this recent series of blogs “Wine tasting in Burgundy…” – but perhaps we could be a bit more specific about where we went.   Here’s an excellent map to the Burgundy wine areas on Wikipedia.

Most of our Burgundy tasting was in the region of Côte d’Or, which is basically an area encompassed by a limestone escarpment (think steep slope).  Grapes grown up the slope tend to make more distinctive and flavorful wines, while grapes grown towards the base and closer to the towns are more affordable.  The northern half of Côte d’Or , which is almost exclusively red wine is called Côte de Nuits.  We actually based ourselves out of Beaune, an excellent place to stay, and which is coincidentally in the heart of Côte de Beaune.

In the other posts about our experience we made mention of Burgundy wine classifications, such as Grand Cru and Premier Cru.  One good question was how can I tell what classification my wine is when looking at the bottle?  If a wine is Grand Cru, it will list the name of the vineyard and the term Grand Cru – no village name.  If the wine is Premier Cru it will list the name of the village of origin, the term Premier Cru (usually shown as “1er Cru”  same as in english we’d show 1st Cru, 1er = 1st) and usually a vineyard name.  Village appellation wines will show the name of the village (example: Pommard) and sometimes the vineyard. Interestingly, to make their wines sound a bit more prestigious some villages changed their names by appending a name of a prestigious vineyard to the village name.  A great example of this happened in March of 1862 when the village of Aloxe changed its name to Aloxe-Corton.  Corton is the Grand Cru vineyard located on a hill near the village.  They apparently knew what they were doing as the Corton appellation, which is the only Grand Cru for red wine within Côte de Beaune, was officially created 75 years later in 1937.

While we certainly appreciate all of the history and effort that goes into letting us know what wine we are getting, it basically does all come down to taste.  If you like it and it tastes good to you, it’s a good wine.  You have to let your senses be the guide, as nobody else can really tell you what tastes good to you.  Keep in mind though, that we do taste with all our senses, what it looks like, smells like, feels like, etc.  Where you taste can also be a big factor.  Are you at home, at a restaurant, at a wine bar, or are you in an amazing cellar under a chateau in France?  A lot more goes into our perception about what is a good wine beyond the grapes themselves just dancing across our tongues!

Our group made 2 stops in Côte de Nuits on the final day of this tour.  Pierre Laforest and Domaine Quivy.  We had an awesome time and loved both places.  It was soon time to push on though as the entire group had to get to Lyon to board a river boat .  We were running a bit late after our last tasting so we had a bit of a mad frenzy to get our luggage on the bus and then we made a frantic dash to catch our train.

While we were on time for the train, it was not.  The train was about an hour late.  So even though we rushed, we were there in plenty of time for our transfer to Lyon, where we all got on board the River Royale for a 7 night cruise!    Coming soon – blogs on our awesome cruise experience!

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Check the monitor – the train is “retard”. French for you’re going to be waiting a while.

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