Burgundy is a topic that is difficult to study but very pleasing to taste. For me it is soft, delicate, and delicious. Every glass, a different taste, the whispers of different villages speaking their own language. You will never see the word Burgundy on the label of the wines , rather it will say Bourgognes, the French word.
Burgundy is all about terroir, the exceptional soil that has enjoyed the influence of the sea; or even retains elements from the Mid-Jurassic period (175 million years ago). As such, every small plot or village features different components leading to very different wines.
Of course, it is not only about the soil, it is the whole combination of the grape, soil, climate, vineyard location and of course the vigneron, i.e. the winemaker. The two dominant grapes are chardonnay as white burgundies and pinot noir as red burgundies, with the composition of 50% to 40% for these two dominant grapes.
If Bordeaux wines use term Château, in Burgundy we found the term domain. A domain is a collective of vineyards, many of which are small and often are owned by the same family or company. The vineyards can come from different villages and appellations, and each can produce different wines from the same domain. The classification is tied to the land not to the producer of Château, it was passed down through generations and officially recognised resulting in regional, commune/village, Premier Cru and Grand Cru appellations.
To be able to take you through my own tasting experience, I have decided to taste wines from the same producer so I can share demonstrate the differences. I am taking you to the journey of one producer Patriarche. The history of Patriarche started in 1780 — a 242 years old history of the winemaking in the heart of Beaune— where they had 5 kilometres of vaulted galleries under Beaune with its 2 million ageing bottles; a must to visit and join the tour if you visit Burgundy. It’s definitely on my own bucket list.
To complement these wines, I have found a very interesting glass - the Riedel Veloce Pinor noir Glass. With its balloon shape, it captures the intricacies of the Burgundy wine; it is so light and delicate, and despite being machine-made, it feels and looks very much like handmade glass. Now, I’m ready to taste!
I start my tasting from the white Burgundy. My first wine is Patriarche Bourgogne Chardonnay 2020. Vin de Bourgogne meaning that the grapes come from the region of Bourgogne. The wine is a classical chardonnay style from a cold climate, very crisp, with high acidity with
a lot of freshness, a green apple aroma and flavour, with a medium body. A very enjoyable young wine from Burgundy.
My second white wine is Patriarche Saint-Véran 2017. Saint-Véran is an appellation for dry white wines produced in the southern half of the Mâconnais sub-region of Burgundy. It is located in the area of the famous Rock of Solutrén, the towering limestone rock that of course influences the grapes growing in the area. The aroma of the wine is pronounced with orange peel, peach, white flower, interesting baking spice such as cinnamon, scent of sweet honey, with some nutty characters. The palate wine is dry yet very fruity, full body harmony of the acidity and the flavour.
The third wine is a Patriarche Chablis 2019. As the style of the Chablis is always unoaked chardonnay, did you know that there is only white wine in Chablis. The famous soil is called “Kimmeridgian” limestone, its white, chalky texture is great at retaining and reflecting the warmth of the sun, helping the grape ripen in the cold climate area. The soil gives the wine impressive mineral characters as they said it is the gun-flint aroma in the wine, I love the texture of silkiness of the wine on my palate and I detect even a slight saltiness in the wine, with nice acidity with freshness of green apple contributes to an even more crisp and pure wine.
Let’s move to the red burgundies, the Pinot Noir, with Patriarche Mercurey 2015. Mercurey is the appellation Village in the area of Côte Chalonnaise, one of the subregions of Burgundy. This area is very famous as a quarter of the area is classified as Premier Cru classe. The aroma of the wine is predominantly a ripe red fruit character with quite a woody aroma. In the palate it has a candied rfrd fruit character, the influence of oak present on the body of the wine and the round and soft tannin of the wines. This is balanced with medium acidity and the freshness of the fruits.
My last wine is Patriarche Gevrey- Chambertin. Gevrey-Chambertin is the appellation village in the Côte de Nuits region (Côte-d’Or), some of the most prestigious and expensive red wines come from this village. The aroma of the wine is an impressive fruit and floral bouquet, rich with berries; strawberry, raspberry, plum, violet, and rose. On the palate the wines are full bodied, rich, yet fruity and has a lot of complexity not only from fresh fruit character but also the balance structure of fruitiness, fresh acidity, velvety tannin and long, nice finish. Pinot Noir based on its characteristics are red fruit character, light in body, high acidity and low in tannin, but what Burgundy and its application shows us is how the exceptional terroir influence combined with the historical wine making practices lead Burgundy to totally different exceptional performances.
To enjoy the Burgundy wine; you can enjoy it as it self as the wines will compliment your palate nicely and pairing with food will be excellent. This delicate wine needs delicate flavours to pair it; a classic will be a duck pairing or mild cheeses that are creamy and not too aged.
WSET Certified Educator / Head of Hatten Education Center
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