Weekly Local Wine’d Up #2 – The Burgundy Wine Region
September means it’s back to school time, but when it comes to learning about wine, class is always in session for the folks at iYellow!
This Fall iYellow Wine Club is launching a new blog called “Local Wine’d Up!” The blog follows what Kate More, of iYellow Wine Group, learns about international wine regions at the International Sommelier Guild (ISG), where Kate studying to become an ISG Sommelier.
And since wine tasting is her homework (and because iYellow loves Ontario), the blog will supplement her study with reviews of great local varietals!
The goal of “Local Wine’d Up” is to demonstrate the quality and versatility of Ontario wine. An exploration of our local region can actually feel like an exploration of international wine, you just have to know which varietals to taste, and iYellow is here to help!
Don’t forget to take notes!
Geography: East-Central France and stretches 360 km on a north-south axis.
Climate: A Continental macroclimate with many differing mesoclimates, most that are influenced by slope and aspect on the regions’ vineyards.
Soil: The Burgundy wine region is large and the soils are diverse, but limestone is the dominant soil type. The following outlines the soil in Burgundy’s top regions:
- Chablis – limestone, chalky clay and marl
- Cote d’Or – limestone with a surface of limestone debris, sands and clay
- Cote Chalonnaise – limestone and mixed clay topsoil
- Maconnais – limestone and clay-alluvium
- Beaujolais – granite mixed with sand a clay in the north and clay-alluvium in the south
Historical Tidbits: Benedictine Monks were early grape-growers, and had a lasting impact on the region thanks to their identification of where vines grow best, and their records of vine management schemes and vinification techniques.
Wine Laws: Like Bordeaux, Burgundy classifies wine regions based on Regional, District and Commune appellations, but it also goes a step further – Burgundy is focused on the importance of individual vineyards and adds two other appellations into the mix, Premier Cru and Grand Cru. Meaning “first growth” and “great growth” vineyards respectively, these classifications are uniquely based on the region’s appellation system, and honour vineyards with a history of consistent quality production and excellent potential.
Common Grapes: Chardonnay, Aligote, Pinot Noir and Gamay.
Vinification: Most wines are made from single grape varietals the undergo various forms of Burgundian manipulation, ie. pigeage, malolactic fermentation, battonage and both stainless steel and oak fermentation.
Aging: Oak and/or stainless steel barrels
- Famous for Chardonnay and the wines are typically refreshingly high in acidity, with zesty lemon and apple fruit flavours.
- Known to have the most ‘aristocratic’ vineyards in Burgandy
Cotes de Nuits
- Gevrey-Chambertin – known for Grand Cru designations and well-structured, rich wines
- Morey-St.-Denis – focused on Pinot Noir
- Chambolle-Musigny – reputation for delicate and ethereal wines made from Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes
- Vosne-Romanee – excellent pinot noir and a host to six Grand Cru sites
Cotes de Beaune
- Pommard – devoted to fuller, more ‘masculine’ reds
- Volnay – devoted to delicate, more ‘feminine’ reds
- Meursault – known for nutty, yeasty and buttery Chardonnays
- Puligny-Montrachet and Chassagne-Montrachet – high-quality white production
Cote Chalonnaise – South of Cote d’Or and produces zestier, more acidic wines.
Maconnais - Mixed farming areas with more fertile soils. Region produces affordable and quality Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Gamay.
Pouilly-Fuisse – Known more new world wine-making; oak-aging ore full fruit flavours
Beaujolais – Recognized for soft and fruity Gamay wines with candied aromas and flavours.
Local Wine’d Up
Like the stainless-steel fermented Chardonnays of Chablis, this wine has a zesty style! The nose brings to mind fresh lemons and hard nectarines, with a similarly expressive palate of ripe pear, juicy peaches with a energetic zing of of citrus notes and the sort of minerality that makes you pause…
This charming chardonnay exhibits classic Burgundian manipulation. According to the winery’s website, half of the cuvee was fermented at cool temperatures in stainless steel to preserve the fresh fruit aromatics and the remaining was fermented in a combination of new and seasoned French oak barriques. The resulting wine was aged for 10 months with continuous lees stirring in French oak.
What a nose! Like the Chardonnays of Cote de Beaune – this French Oak barrel-aged wine, spent 10 months sur lie and thanks to this it has layered aromas of vanilla creme brulee, dried pineapple, fig newtons and dessert tea. In the mouth, this wine is full-bodied, with big, seductive oak character, perfectly fused with pink lady apples, minerality and a hint of medjool dates and fruitcake on the finish.
A true exhibition on Niagara’s terroir and an excellent comparison to a Burgundian Pinot Noir. This wine has a strong and pleasing nose of a campfire recently put out in an Ontario forest, this is well-balanced with notes of black cherries, tart cranberries and molasses. The palate is thick with ripe red fruit, smooth but noticeably assertive tannins and a finish of tobacco, old leather and smokey beach wood. According to Cave Spring’s website, this wine underwent a 4 day maceration followed by gentle pressing and ageing for 18 months in new and second year French oak.
A classic Burgundian-style Pinot Noir. This wine has a fresh cherry, red currant and raspberry nose and a bouquet of hints tobacco and leather, with a palate to match.
This wine is one iYellow’s known (a.k.a. one of Ange’s) favourite Niagara wines. Flat Rock Cellars Pinot Noir has the classic character one sees with great Burgundian Pinot Noirs (ripe red fruit and floral notes followed with good acidity and spicy earthiness) but the vinification method is unique. As read on Flat Rock Cellar’s website, “The 2009 Estate Pinot Noir is a blend of three traditional Pinot clones…after being de-stemmed. Each clone was then fermented separately with selected yeast stains, each being plunged by hand four times a day to extract colour, flavour, and tannin.Following fermentation, the wine was drained off the skins using gravity into 100% French oak barrels, where it aged undisturbed for 10 months. Finally, all barrels were tasted individually and barrels from all three clones were selected to make the blend for 2009 Estate Pinot Noir.”
Vous voulez experience a Beaujolais wine in Niagara? Well then, cheers! Malivoire Wine’s 2009 Gamay is a lovely nod from Niagara to Beaujolais; with a mostly candy-sweet aroma of fresh raspberries and cherries, there is also a hint of earthiness and wildflowers, with a mirrored character in the mouth. Good acidity and modest tannins. According to Malivoire Wine’s website, this medium-bodied wine spent 15 days on the skins, the wine was gently pressed and sent to 52% stainless steel and 48% neutral barrels for malolactic fermentation (common in Beaujolais) and eight months of ageing.