Studying the wine regions of France's Bourgogne can take a good deal of effort. We Americans call it Burgundy which in fact has five sub regions, some 100 controlled appellations of origin and four appellation categories.
However, fortunately, all of this knowledge is not necessary to enjoy these wines. All the American wine drinker needs to know is that Burgundy is the ancestor and home of two of the world's greatest grape varietals--Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. In fact recent studies have the Romans using the pinot noir grape to make wine in Burgundy during the time of the Caesars. Two other lesser known varietals of the region include Gamay and Alligate.
A few of Burgundy's regions may be familiar names to Americans, Pouilly Fuisse, Chablis, Maconnais and Cote De Nuits.
We had the opportunity to sort some of this out when we attended a seminar presented by Wines and Foods of France entitled "Discover the wines of Bourgogne" at the Shutters Hotel in Santa Monica.
Here, besides a geography lesson of the region, we tasted nine wines. The four Blancs were all from the Chardonnay grape but from different regions. All offered the classic dryness and fruitiness of the varietal but with amazingly different styles. We admired the Chablis ler cru Cote de Lechet, nothing like this found in domestic wines, and the Saint-Aubin ler cru en Remilly was classic with full aroma and just a hint of new oak. Actually all four Blancs showed less oak than is present in many California wines of this varietal.
The United States is the best export market for Burgundy wines and tasting the four Pinot Noirs readily showed why this is so. The 2000 Cote de Nuits Villages was the oldest wine served yet retained its pleasing hue. The Marsannay offers a fine nose and ever so mellow flavors. We thought the 2003 Monthelie the most traditional of the wines we tasted, darker in color and with more body. We gave high marks to the 2002 Beaune du Chateau ler Cru.
The best news, at least for this Writer who is known for keeping a tight hold on his wallet, was the fact that every wine we tasted was priced at or under $35. The Seminar drew an overflow crowd of writers, retailers and restaurateurs. Also playing to a full house was the walk around tasting that followed.
Closer to home
Sangiovese, that Italian native, is now being produced in California at an ever increasing pace.. We liked Forest Glenn Winemaker Ed Moody's 2003 bottling of this wine for its basketfull of fruit flavors, slight spice aroma and mellow touch on the palate.
Also released is the 2002 Forest Glen Cabernet Sauvignon. This wine will go well with hearty fare on the chilly days and nights of winter. The varietal does show through with this wine. Expect a rich bouquet to match a mellow finish. Both wines priced at $10.
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