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Burgundy Wine News 2017
In Burgundy the wine grower may be a one man band or a family affair. As Jancis Robinson points out in her article on visiting Burgundy's wineries, it is not easy to find them in their cellars to pay them a visit, usually they are out in the vineyard tending their plants. In Beaune and Chablis the tourist is well provided for with tastings on offer but drive out to Gevrey-Chambertin or Aloxe-Corton and where do you start? Now help is at hand. Rue des Vignerons is a website which tells you the user-friendly winegrowers offering tastings and cellar visits in Burgundy and Beaujolais, plus the other famous wine regions of France. The website is in English, there is no fee for their service and you book online, preferably ahead of time but a minimum of 30 minutes before you want to go. Some of the tastings are free of charge, and the website gives full details of the visits on offer and the prices plus a map and location details. You can buy wines at the cellars at reduced prices too. This certainly simplifies life and assures you of a warm welcome on arrival.
BIVB 2016 Harvest - every grape counts
'In 2016, the vines required a great deal of care and attention. Various hiccups in the weather left their mark on the vines (see below). Nor did the winegrowers have any respite from mildew, which was very present this year.
The sun and heat enjoyed in August and September nonetheless raised the mood, but on the eve of the harvest, the various complications triggered by these events are making things tricky for producers.
The vines in those plots hardest hit will provide very few or even no grapes at all. A few went on to bud again, producing fruit-bearing canes. On some, the healthy grapes are really enjoying the good conditions, while véraison (the onset of ripening) is just coming to an end in other sectors. In some areas, it may be necessary to harvest in several goes. In general, the vines that escaped the bad weather have produced generous bunches.
The grapes are maturing at a good rhythm, and some have made up for the time lost in the spring. The first grapes to be picked – those used for Crémant de Bourgogne wines – were brought into the winery on around 10 September in the southern Mâconnais. For still wines, picking took place between 19 and 27 September, depending on the sector and the varietal.
The harvests will no doubt take place over a longer period than normal. Patience and close attention will be the order of the day for this vintage that will be unlike any other.
But a question still lingers over the volume of the harvest. The results of a survey carried out among winegrowers suggests a dip in yields of 20-27% compared to the average, suggesting a harvest of between 1.1 and 1.2 million hectoliters. But nothing is set in stone, given how experiences have differed from one estate to the next'.
If you need a reminder of why this wine region keeps beckoning you, take a look at Youri Lebault's book, 'Discovering the vineyard climates of Burgundy'. Concentrating on the Côte d'Or in the wake of its UNESCO ranking, Youri explains the 'climates' and origins of the vineyards leading up to the present day, he talks to some of the well-known growers such as Aubert de Villaine of Romanée Conti who has written the preface to the book, to Olivier Leflaive and Sylvain Pitiot. Lebault operates a luxury-end wine tour business and the final section of the book is devoted to tourist routes which he recommends. All this is presented with intoxicating pictures by Armelle photographe and good maps by Syvain Pitiot making you want to arrange your trip to the vineyards tout de suite. As one reviewer of Youri's trips says: he will 'enhance your experience beyond all your expectations'
The book is available in an English version and a French one, costing 25 euros, plus postage from Youri.
walk in the vineyards with a free app
A good looking app for walkers in the vineyards of Burgundy comes from the Côte d'Or Tourist Office. Packed with information and routes, it is entitled 'Bourgogne Rando Vignes, available in French, f.o.c. at the Apple Store or Google Play. GPS enabled for offline use.
Connoisseurs' Wine Tours
French Wine Explorers, an American based company, specialise in top end wine tours to France. Their Burgundy tour focuses on the Grand Cru wines and their related châteaux and domaines, or spend a few days in Champagne or Paris before heading on to Burgundy. In each case, these are trips for people who are short on time but who want to see and pack in the crème-de-la-crème of the region.
Whether you want an introductory wine tasting or a more in-depth look, there is now a wide choice based around Beaune and Chablis. In our Gourment Tours section, we highlight some of the wine experiences - wine tours and tasting lunches.
The Marché aux Vins in the centre of Beaune, next to the Hotel-Dieu, is an excellent introduction to the best wines of the region. There you can taste the famous names from Meursault to Puligny-Montrachet at your leisure. The Marché aux Vins is open every day and the visit and tasting costs 10 € per person.
The Hôtel du Conseiller du Roy, is the impressive HQ of Bouchard Aîné & Fils on the ring road around Beaune. You can visit the age-old cellars and take a tasting tour for 10 € per person, lasting one hour. In one of the cellars there are pots of different scents from cinnamon to Lapsang Souchong tea to help you identify the personality of the wines you are sampling. Open daily from 9.30 - 12.30 and 14.00 - 19.00.
Wine Tours - Wherever you are in the world, so much more can come out of a trip when you have an experienced guide showing you the way. Robert and Joy Pygott, an English couple living in Burgundy, share their knowledge with you on their wine tours, visiting small independent vineyards and meeting the vignerons. About 20 wines are tasted throughout the day, and a three-course lunch is included in the price. There are one, two and three day tours to choose from with transport in their air-conditioned Land Rover Discovery. Prices for a day’s tour range from 150€ per person, and weekend trips can be planned to include accommodation. Their deep passion and boundless enthusiasm for Burgundy is infectious. firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information on Burgundy Wine, see Wine Guidebooks
Pam Elson ©burgundytoday.com