Saturday, March 19, 2011

The Grapes of Burgundy

Today's lesson focused on Chardonnay and Pinot Noir - the grapes of the Burgundy region of France. Gamay, the grape of Beaujolais, got an honorable mention, but not a tasting. We'll start with Chardonnay.
The single most useful thing (to me) I learned today was what flavors are going to be common to the different climates where Chardonnay is found. Cool climates, such as Chablis or New Zealand, are going to have a higher level of natural acid and you're going to taste apples, pears or some citrus (like with Sauvignon Blanc). Chardonnays from a moderate climate like Burgundy are going to taste of stone fruits (peach) and melon. Those from warmer climates - think Australia - are going to have some tropical fruit showings, like banana, pineapple or mango.

Next we moved on to Pinot Noir, the grape we have all come to know as the sensitive one. There was really not a lot of discussion on this - partially because we were having so much fun with the Chardonnays. The most practical thing to know about pinot noir is that it is softer and lighter in tannins than its other red sisters. Only two were tasted and, while France may have taken the Chardonnay, I was more impressed with the 2008 Marlborough (NZ) than I was with the 2008 Volnay (Burgundy). The Sherwood had a lot more character, smelling of anise and finishing a little creamy.
Per instructor, the best Pinot Noirs to be found now are from Oregon and Central Otago, New Zealand.

Random nuggets of wisdom:
Pinotage is South Africa's grape and is NOT pinot noir.
Kim Crawford sold off his wineries and is now making wine as Mud House.

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