After last week’s post on Tom Welsh’s first day tasting Burgundy Wines in Beaune, France, I need to correct a couple of things. My apologies to our friend Wally for misspelling his last name. I had Reston and the correct spelling is Ruston. Sorry about that, Wally.
The second item is that Tom is actually working on his Certified Sommelier qualification, not the Master Sommelier qualification. The Master Sommelier qualification is two levels up from where Tom is at. Sorry Tom. We can only hope you get to the Master Sommelier level quickly. By the way, only 211 people in the world hold that designation. Good luck Tom!
This week’s post covers Tom’s second and final day of wine tasting.
Tom Welsh on Les Grands Jours de Bourgogne 2014: Day Two
This day was comprised of three themed areas under one roof in an exhibition hall in Beaune. It featured the wines of the Côtes de Beaune, Mâconnais and Crement du Bourgogne. If I thought that Day One’s vineyard and AOC variety was vast and complex, Day Two would put that in perspective. Perhaps it was because it was all in one hall instead of split between three places with a shuttle van ride in between, or maybe there is just much more complexity in this area of the region. I will list the types of wine that I was able to taste. There were certainly many others that I did not taste as well.
Most know that Burgundy wines are made exclusively from Pinot Noir grapes for the reds and Chardonnay for the whites. This applies to the vast majority, but in certain areas of the Mâconnais there are reds made from Gamay (the grape of Beaujolais further south) and some whites made from Aligoté (in the AOC Bourgogne Aligoté and Bouzeron). Both can also be blended in the Crement de Bourgogne wines.
Mâconnais (these are village names – several had more specific vineyard designations)
The Mâconnais whites were very good. They were mostly 2012 and 2013 vintages, with a few 2011s available. The 2012s had good balance of fruit and acidity and were refreshing and some, quite complex. I preferred the Saint-Veran to most of the others and also was impressed by Pouilly-Vinzelles, a wine that I had never seen before. The Saint-Verans seemed to have a more pronounced citrus/lemon component while the others were more generally aromatic. The Pouilly-Fuissé had a typical barnyard aroma initially, but went on to taste of apples and some tropical fruits.
Côtes de Beaune
- Savigny- lés-Beaune
- Côte de Beaune (red and white – Villages level)
Additionally there were many Beaune Premier Cru vineyard designated reds too numerous to name.
I really enjoyed the Côtes de Beaune reds. They were all pleasantly fruity but with good balance of acidity and tannins. These 2011s seemed more like the 2012s, fresher than their Côte du Nuits counterparts. If I was forced to choose, I think that overall, the Savigny-lés-Beaunes represented my favorite category…but there were both excellent and average wines from each.
Crément de Bourgogne
Crément is the term for French sparkling wine when made outside the Champagne region. Crément de Bourgogne, like Champagne, is made primarily from Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes, as they are nearly exclusive in the region. While Champagne also includes Pinot Meunier, the Crément de Bourgogne does not but it may also include Gamay and/or Aligoté
I did not focus too heavily on this section in favor of all the still wines, but I did taste some of them. While they were pleasant, they generally had a fuller body and an off-dry (not sugary but more a function of their texture and fruitiness) character than suited my taste. While for the Champagne lover there is no substitute for the acidity and sharp minerality that can only come from the chalky soil and cool climate of Champagne, these Crément de Bourgogne were very drinkable and would make a fine substitute in a celebration or entertaining situation at a much lower cost than Champagne.
The two days of tasting in the heart of this iconic region was a rare and distinctive opportunity. I learned a lot and met many interesting people from all segments of the wine industry. Of course the matter will require further study and investigation and I hope to return to Burgundy again, having just scratched its surface.
I would like to thank Tom Welsh for representing Tiedemann Wines at the “Grand Days of Burgundy.” I am sure it was quite enjoyable to spend two days tasting wine in the French countryside and I only wish all of us had been there. Thanks Tom.
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Until next week,