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Brilliance is Burgundy – The ‘how to’ guide on hosting a great Burgundy tasting

Written by: Tom Gilbey

Burgundy is a very impressive region and one of our absolute favourites to taste. Despite mainly showcasing two grape varieties, Burgundy offers a range of subtle flavours to explore, with quality being linked to the vineyards rather the wine growers and makers, it’s the best region to explore the influence of terroir – how the grape, soil and climate dictate the flavour.

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The last Burgundy tasting we hosted went down a treat and so we’d recommend you follow suit. Here’s how we played it.

In this heat, what better fizz to start with than a Crémant de Bourgogne, and while you’re at it, why not make it pink? “Crémant” is the name given to French sparkling wines that are made using the Champagne method (with secondary fermentation happening in the bottle) but aren’t produced in Champagne. Crémant can be made using different grape varieties and they vary from region to region. For Crémant de Bourgogne, the most popular grapes are Pinot Noir, Gamay, Chardonnay and Aligoté.

 

Making our way onto the whites, we start in Chablis. At the very northern-most point of Burgundy (about 230 kilometres north of Pouilly-Fuissé), the wines of Chablis are steely, fresh and famed for their minerality, which is very different from the wines of the Mâconnais. We showed a lovely Chablis village alongside a spectacular Premier Cru Chablis from the Montee de Tonnere vineyard (in magnum, obviously). Both were delicious, but the Premier Cru really showed its class and complexity.

Heading down to the Mâconnais, we’re entering the territory of the highly sought after, rich, nutty and creamier Chardonnays. They’re really generous and tasty, it’s hard to believe that these wines (such as Pouilly-Fuissé) are made from the same grape as Chablis.

 

After Pouilly-Fuissé, we went north through Côte Challonaise and spent a moment on a brilliant Rully from our friend, David Moret, which we tasted alongside a Pouilly-Fuissé to show the contrast. The wine making is almost identical (except for some oak maturation), but the wines showed distinct influences of terroir and so why the world is happy to pay some £30 more a bottle for the wines from more famous appellations.

 

Within the Côte de Beaune, as you move up toward Beaune, you have the option to compare Puligny with Meursault and Chassagne, and many more, even comparing the Premier Crus against the village wines. We were a little too eager to get stuck into the reds, but when you’re comparing Volnay against Vosne-Romanée, you would be too. We hope you’re sitting down, because we’re about to start the Côte de Beaune/ Côte de Nuits shoot out.

 

   

Next door to the village of Pommard (which is where the reds from the Côte de Beaune really start) is the picturesque village of Volnay. We tasted a 2014 by Comte Armand and put it up against a Vosne-Romanée from Domaine Hudelot-Noëllat. The Volnay was already softening, showing elegance and juiciness (A.K.A quintessentially Côte de Beaune) but with a finesse very typical of voluptuous Volnay. On the other side, we had the Vosne-Romanée, which was humming. Albeit from a richer and more generous vintage (2015), it was classic and elegant with a minerality and power to it that you really can only find in the best areas of the Côte De Nuits.

Having now compared two village reds, the next step on our journey had to be pitching a village wine against a Premier Cru. We dug out a delicious Gevrey-Chambertin from Domaine Heresztyn and the Premier Cru Vougeot from Hudelot-Noëllat. To put it simply, both were exceptional, but the Vougeot demonstrated just how good red Burgundy can get, lasting a good 15 seconds on the palate (which coincidentally was the same amount of time it took us to get through the bottle).

 

With a few decent wines, the only other thing you need to make your tasting as enjoyable as ours is a simple map of Burgundy that shows villages and some of the more famous Premier and Grand Cru vineyards.  It’ll help keep the journey alive, and then once your whole audience are wine experts (or at least tipsy), hit them with a blind tasting, which will look a little bit like this.

 

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