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Friday, July 13, 2012

Back to Basics - Burgundy

I’m sure I’ve covered this topic before, to some extent, but after showing some lovely Burgundies this week, I had to touch on it again.
So many people claim they don’t like Chardonnay.  Why?  It’s too heavy; it’s too oaky; it tastes like drinking apple pie.  I do understand - but that’s because they’ve only been drinking mass produced Chardonnay from some of the producers in the United States that turn out a Chardonnay that shows excessive oak, over-concentrated fruit, too much baking spice, and a fat, gooey texture.
And lots of people claim they love Pinot Noir - but they’re not experiencing Pinot Noir as the grape was intended.  They’re experiencing a high alcohol, overly smoky, almost jammy red wine that’s encroaching on Zinfandel territory.
I’m a firm believer in taking things back to basics when trying to get a better understanding of something - anything.  Taking Chardonnay and Pinot Noir back to their roots means learning their identity - and to do that, we need to taste Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from Burgundy.  If we spend time with both red and white Burgundies, we find expressive, elegant, clean, terroir-driven wines, with identities that speak for themselves and set themselves apart from everything else.  That’s why it’s so important to know where a Burgundy comes from in terms of village, vineyard, etc. - and we should be able to perceive that sense of place and identity when experiencing the wine, via the appearance, aroma, flavors, and texture.  When producing a wine with extra bold characteristics and oak that masks the identity of the wine, we miss the point of the wine itself.  Burgundies are among the most expressive wines produced.  And after tasting Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from Burgundy as opposed to anywhere else, a wine drinker can gain a new appreciation and understanding of the grapes and region.  There’s nothing wrong with drinking Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from other parts of the world, but to get a proper understanding of both grapes before making a judgment about them based on an inaccurate example of them, we’ve got to look to Burgundy.

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