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A Journey Through Burgundy

It is a funny thing that when enjoying wine, good wine that is, (not chuck it down your throat and hope it doesn't hurt to much in the morning kind of stuff that your Mother-in-Law might attempt to poison you with at a family get together) that we have to try and define it. We do that weird thing when we try and compare a wines flavour profile to fruits other than grapes. Or even to raw materials, inanimate objects, pieces of classical music, the hind legs of a randy Badger. The more outlandish it seems the better, we even make up words such as minerality for heavens sake. It seems silly, but we do and so we should for the great wines of this world are works of art that deserve as much appraisal as art, literature or music. They give more than sensory pleasure, more than inebriation for like words and music they have the ability to evoke something, often presenting a fond memory or image in our minds eye. 
 
When I think Burgundy initially I see a map. The Cote de Nuits dancing its way down into the Cotes de Beaune, and further, where Santenay buffers against Maranges then moving ever further South beyond Montagny and into the Macconnais. I zoom in and imagine the vineyards. The gold-tinged vines of Le Montrachet as the summer dies away, the aroma of the dank village cellars in the heart of winter, the wine in the barrels so cold that you can barely taste it. I see that famous stone cross over-looking the vineyards of Domaine de la Romannee Conti. That is of course what I see. A normal person is perhaps more likely to see pound signs, to remember some thin, unremarkable Pinot Noir that they felt bound to enjoy because it was from Burgundy, or possibly even Will Ferrel's character in 'The Anchorman'. But I have my map. For as dull as it may sound for what is one of the most exceptional wine regions in the world, it is the geography of Burgundy that makes it what it is. There are not many places where you can stand in a vineyard and know that to purchase a bottle of wine from the row of vines next to you will set you back twenty pounds, but move a couple of rows up or down and you are looking at paying twice that amount due to some minor change in the soil composition, the gradation of slope or often simply the way the land has been divided up. The geography brings with it history and plenty of politics too which all adds to the magic of the wines.
 
Whilst working in China I would see the same men who would happily top up their Chateau Lafite with Sprite get as giddy as a loved-up school girl over a bottle of Leroy Nuits St. George. Even in the land of commodities a bottle of fine Burgundy could escape becoming a material with which to show off, or to trade. It was magic potion.
 
While it is these famous wines and Domaines that offer the region its cult status, with the Cote de Nuits and Cotes de Beaune in particular producing the most sort after wines there is so much more to enjoy. Notably, of course, the mighty Chablis, though it seems to have rather distinguished itself apart from Burgundy, naturally as it lies over 50 miles away from Beaune but stylistically too. The Chardonnay vines here growing on the fabled Kimmeridgian limestone that aids the wines their unique freshness and chalky bite. There is the Cote Chalonnaise which can offer superb value reds from places like Givry and whites from Motangny. For more tasty Chardonnay you can drop further South into the Macconais and again find value, if you know where to look. Finally, less we forget, about ten percent of wine production in Burgundy is sparkling. Cremant de Bourgogne can produce some of the most superbly good value offerings of fizz.
 
If the region could talk it might echo Ron Burgundy in The Anchorman when he says "I'm kind of a big deal" but it doesn't really need to when you can simply taste what is in the glass.
 
Recommendations
 
Rene Bouvier Cote de Nuits Villages 2104 From organically tended vines growing on the cusp of Gevrey-Chambertin. Deliciously perfumed then with surprising depth and structure too. Liquorice with raspberry fruit, smooth and svelte. £29.95
 
V Girardin Saint Aubin 1er Cru Les Murgers des Dents de Chiens 2015 From vineyards bordering Chassagne-Montrachet the wine displays a rich texture with tropical fruit and interwoven oak before ambushing you with it's crisp, refreshing finish. Smoky and delectable. £41.95

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