So here’s what I knew about Burgundy and the Rhone before class:
Specifically, I remember being about eight and driving with my mom, my aunt, and a friend of my aunt’s. All this friend talked about in the car was how she had had Chateauneuf-du-Pape at dinner at a very expensive restaurant. I remember saying to my mother later, after the woman was gone, "So even when people grow up, they still brag?"
Yes, a lesson in life. Here are some other lessons, no bragging involved:
White Burgundy: Chardonnay is the main white. Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, and the mysterious (to me, anyhow) Aligote make up the rest. But really, it’s all Chardonnay.
Red Burgundy: Pinot noir is the main grape. Gamay is also prominent.
Words to Throw Around…
Terroir: It’s a big deal in Burgundy.
Chablis: It’s the non-Chardonnay-drinker’s Chardonnay.
Beaujolais (Gamay): Because everyone loves a party…November 15th is the day!
And now onto the Rhone…where it’s all red wine, all the time, with the exception of about 3% of the production, which is white and mainly Viognier.
In the North, the red is ALL Syrah–also known as Shiraz in other parts of the world–except where people might be breaking the law. I am sorta making up the breaking the law part, but it’s like what Professor Marvin Zonis pointed out (and I am paraphrasing)…if more than 80% of the population is voting for one candidate, that election is fixed. Somewhere, someone in the Northern Rhone is growing a little sneaky Merlot on the side, I swear.
In the south–home of Chateauneuf-du-Pape–they’re a little more laid-back about things, and they’ll use Grenache, Cinsault, Mouvedre, and Syrah. Grenache is the most dominant grape. They also, apparently, can hold their liquor (well, wine) pretty well as a lot of their wines come in at 14% to 14.5% alcohol.
I am so over-simplifying all of this, I know. Feel free to add your own fun fact!
My favorite of the evening? The 2003 Domaine Lucien Barrot Chateauneuf-du-Pape AOC, which is about 80% Grenache, 10% Syrah and 10% Cinsault/Mourvedre. It’s available at Majestic for £14.99.
Again, sometimes you need a stock photo. Mine is from supafine at Morguefile.