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Burgundy’s Hidden Secrets

by Paola Fiocchi Van den Brande

Burgundy is often described as one of the world’s best-known wine areas but, for some, the least understood. We have lived and run our wine tasting events and sales business, Bringing Burgundy To You, from Burgundy since 2003. Over that time we’ve got to know many of the producers as friends and seen the vintages change year by year.

Estelle and Michel Prunier in their Auxey Duresses cellar

Estelle and Michel Prunier in their Auxey Duresses cellar

In this post we suggest some of Burgundy’s “Hidden Secrets” to enjoy with friends this coming holiday season. Along the way we hope to demystify Burgundy a little too.

The grape varieties in Burgundy are simple. If it is white wine, it will almost certainly be 100% chardonnay and if it’s red it’ll be 100% pinot noir. Almost without exception we never blend grape varieties in Burgundy for still wines. We also grow a little of another white grape, Aligote, and a tiny amount of Gamay, which is the predominant variety in Beaujolais.

Here “terroir” is everything – in a nutshell the environment in which the vineyard sits plus the human intervention of the winemaker. In Burgundy it’s said a wine is 70% terroir and 30% the winemaker. The vineyards fall into four categories; regional, village, premier cru and grand cru. The label will say which village and often which vineyard in that village the grapes have been grown. You don’t need to spend a fortune buying grand cru to get an exceptional wine made by one of Burgundy’s 4,000 winegrowers who are predominately small, family businesses often going back generations. These men and women make wine with heartfelt passion – they work the vineyards, harvest and make their wine often in very small quantities.

So what to enjoy this holiday season? In may surprise some that Burgundy produces more white wine than red plus an excellent sparkling wine, Cremant de Bourgogne. We’ve selected one sparkling, one white and one red from producers we know well.

Alain Coche, Domaine Coche-Bizouard in his Burgundy vineyards

Alain Coche, Domaine Coche-Bizouard in his Burgundy vineyards

At Christmas and New Year we always want to enjoy some sparkles! Our top tip for a great Hidden Secret sparkling wine is a Cremant de Bourgogne, made exactly the same way as Champagne but for half the price! Our favourite is lady winegrower Fabienne Bony’s Cremant de Bourgogne Blanc de Noir at €12,50 a bottle. Made with 100% pinot noir this sparkling wine is great to enjoy with friends as an aperitif and it pairs wonderfully with seafood platters. Fabienne Bony took over her father’s Domaine in 2002 and apart from Cremant makes excellent red wines from Nuits St Georges.

Many people will have heard of Burgundy wines from Puligny-Montrachet and Chassagne-Montrachet but perhaps thought them a little expensive. Our Hidden Secret white wine is a St Aubin premier cru, Les Combes 2011 from Domaine Coche-Bizouard. St Aubin is a village nestling in a valley between Puligny and Chassagne, in the part of Burgundy called Cote de Beaune, and often overlooked even by Burgundy people. This wine is perfectly balanced has a hint of honey and apricot on the nose and round and long in the mouth – perfect with oysters, salmon and white meats. Domaine Coche-Bizouard is fourth generation and based in the village of Meursault. This St Aubin premier cru is €29,90 a bottle.

We stay in the Cote de Beaune for our Hidden Secret red from fourth generation Domaine Michel Prunier et Fille in the village of Auxey Duresses, across the road from the better known village of Meursault and a few kilometres south of Pommard. Michel and daughter, Estelle’s, excellent Auxey-Duresses premier cru Clos du Val, 2010, at €29,50 is a superb wine with ripe fruits on the nose and a rich body on the palate. Ideal with grilled meats, duck, rabbit and turkey too.

Cremant de Bourgogne with gougeres - perfect aperitif

Cremant de Bourgogne with gougeres – perfect aperitif

If you’d like advice on any Burgundy or to discuss an order of, perhaps, a mixed case of Burgundy for the holiday season contact us at david@bringingburgundytoyou.com. Visit our web site too, www.bringingburgundytoyou.com. Please mention Passepartout Homes when contacting us.

We run wine tasting events throughout Europe for 2 to 100 people and for a special celebration we’ll bring our Burgundy Wine Tasting Masterclass to you in your ski chalet or holiday villa. Or, if you would like a case delivered to wherever you are staying send us an email.

By David Hammond, Bringing Burgundy To You

For a pace to stay whilst in France, please visit our portfolio of French villas: https://www.passepartout-homes.com/holidays/France/all