Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Beaune Burgundy Region

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May 2019 - France Tour

On May 5th, we left Dijon for Beaune for a wine tasting. We travelled on the highway “des Grands Crus”.

We were surrounded by Pinot Noir and Chardonnay vineyards which make up this region of Burgundy.

There are others too, of course, like Aligoté, Pinot Gris, Gamay, and Sauvignon Blanc but the primary focus of Burgundy’s production is Pinot Noir for Bourgogne Rouge and Chardonnay for Bourgogne Blanc.

To the Burgundy vigneron (winemaker) the region is not only the original home of these grapes, but the terroir (“tear-wah”) that best expresses their character – elegant, aromatic, and complex.

What is Terroir? Terroir is the symbiosis of grapes, soil, climate, vineyard placement, and human touch, all rolled into one. Burgundy is all about terroir.

The soil is very rich with minerals and limestone which is excellent for grape growing. The richer soil is on the hills which grows the “Premier Crus wines”. The limestone rocks are placed in the fields to absorb heat and moisture and keeps the soil warm overnight.

At one time, there were over 700 monasteries/abbeys in France which built the culture of the vineyards and created the “climats de Bourgogne” which is how the monks segregated the land for harvesting the different types of wines.

In the heart of the city, in front of the Hospices de Beaune,

the Marché aux Vins is located in the ancient Church of Cordelier.

It was bought and restored in 1977 and today accommodates the Marché aux Vins, its architectural beauty being equalled only by the exceptional wines presented.
Noteworthy: this is where one finds the only vineyard within the historical centre of Beaune, at exactly the same spot where the Franciscans used to cultivate white vines to produce altar wine for mass.

In 1803, the choir and the church entrance were destroyed to create the existing rue de l’Hotel Dieu.
From 1972 to 1976, Mr. André Boisseaux proceeded with a restoration of the XIIIth chapel and construction of the cellars. As a result, Marché aux Vins was created, a real tasting temple in Beaune.

When clients come for tastings at MAV, they find the substructure of the ancient Cordelier Church, that was transformed into the cellars where old vintages have been stocked for more than 40 years.

On the first floor one will discover three chapels that are still intact: Saint-François, Saint-Antoine and Saint-Sébastien.

This is the chapel of Saint Francois, in the heart of L’Eglise des Cordeliers.


The visit starts in the cellars situated in the basement of the former Cordeliers Church. There are information boards along the path, that cover the major history about the Maison and explain the wines of Burgundy. More than 22 000 bottles are stocked in the cellars of Marché aux Vins.

From the church's crypt.

Once we complete our visit of the cellars, it is now time for the wine tasting.The first red wine was a Meursauld-Charmes a “Premier Cru”.The terms Premier Cru, Grand Cru, etc., are generally translated into English as First Growth, Great Growth, etc. they designate levels of presumed quality that are variously defined in different wine regions. Located about 8 kilometers south of Beaune on the commune of Meursault , this vineyard has an area of ​​395 hectares. The white wines represent almost all of the appellation with 382.42 hectares including 96.15 hectares in 1 st vintage. Thus the proportion represents 96% of white wines and 4% of red The red wines are tiny in this vineyard with only 13.47 hectares including 0.82 hectares wines.

The red wine of the AOC is exclusively pinot noir . It consists of dense, cone-shaped clusters of pine composed of ovoid grains, dark blue in color . It is a delicate grape variety that is sensitive to major diseases, particularly late blight , parasitic raptor, gray mold (on bunches and leaves), and leafhoppers. This variety, which requires careful disbudding, tends to produce a large number of grapillons . It takes full advantage of the vegetative cycle to mature in the first era. The potential for accumulation of sugars is high for a fair average acidity and sometimes insufficient at maturity. The wines are quite powerful, rich, colorful, of guard . They are moderately tannic in general.

Our second bottle for tasting was a Chateau de Meursault, Volnay, Premier Cru, "Clos des Chenes".

This Château de Meursault, whose history goes back one thousand years, produces the Volnay Clos des Chênes from one parcel of 6.40 acres located on the upper hill, South of the hamlet of Volnay. “Clos”, meaning “closed”, refers to the walls bordering the vineyard, and “Chênes” to the oak trees were grown nearby. The white marl soils, humid and rustic, make this Premier Cru very dense and structured. The color is deep ruby. The aroma is one of ripe black fruits, accompanied by spicy notes. The taste is full bodied with elegant tannins which give off a very structured wine of black fruit and spicy aroma.

As we taste our wine we wander the inviting first floor of the premises which still harbour some of the church's features.

It also incorporates an art gallery.


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