Welcome to Second Ferment! Wine pairs well with life ... and food, travel, people, work and play. Grab a glass and join me as I explore the wine scene in Ottawa, Canada, and beyond. Love hearing from my readers, so please leave a comment or drop me a line. Cheers! - Bethany

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Burgundy for 500 please, Alex

Hubby would have loved last night's class - it was all about trivia. The minutiae of the Burgundy wine region. Lots of great "did you know?" moments: Did you know the hillsides of Chablis are lined with pipes of kerosene that are lit during frosts to save the grapes? Did you know that the bubblegum flavour in your Beaujolais comes from carbonic maceration? Did you know you can tell who owns which vines in the Côte D'Or just by the shape of their vine posts? Did you know that a clos is a walled-off section of vineyard, most likely built by monks in the Middle Ages.

Neither did I.

You think Bordeaux is complicated? I think les Bourgognes felt like they needed to up the ante in terms of convolution. Quality designations don't go by chateau, they go by the plot of land the vines are on. The five rows grown by your neighbour create an entirely different wine from yours, which are entirely different from the vines growing across the road. Depending on where the sun shines, you've either got a villages wine or a premier grand cru. Never mind that there's less than 10 feet between your crop and the shade. Varietal is a total non-factor in a place this obsessed with terroir. No true winemaker in Burgundy makes Chardonnay. That stuff's for chumps. They may be chardonnay grapes, but the wines here are Vosne-Romanées, Chassagne-Montrachets and Pouilly-Fuissés. That's Burgundy.

Wine of the night, hands down: Domaine Antonin Rodet Meursault 2005. Pure chardonnay, but nothing like what I've had before. The nose is all brandy and butterscotch, typical of the Côte de Beaune (It immediately brought to mind the brandy alexanders Mum has on special occasions.) Flavours of syrupy sweetness and poached pears, with medium weight and low acid. There's a bit of bitterness, like flint, on the finish, but it's short-lived, especially considering the mind-blowing luxury of the rest of the experience.

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