Imagine I offered you a glass of Pommard or a Meursault, a Volnay or a St Aubin which would you choose? Or do you buy your wine on the basis of red v white, Chardonnay v Sauvignon Blanc, Australia v Chile? All well and good, but that’s like going into a butchers shop and asking for “a kilo of red meat please” or, “a kilo of beef please” without getting to the real issue that you want some matured and organic fillet steak of Aberdeen Angus!
Buying wine is NO different, especially in France generally and Burgundy specifically. In one part of Burgundy we have the Côte d’Or divided into the Cote de Beaune and the Cote de Nuits. Then in the Cote de Beaune we have lots of tiny villages each with vineyards and entitled to name and label their wines with the village name, and in some cases with even the name of the field/vineyard which may have an entitlement to be called a Premier Cru or a Grand Cru.
If two villages epitomise Burgundy, the Cote de Beaune and red wine, it’s Pommard and Volnay. A kilometre apart only as the crow flies, but it might as well be a galaxy apart in terms of the wine differences. Volnay epitomises Elegance, Femininity ….. Pommard exudes Power, Masculinity. These differences are created mostly by slight differences in slope, exposure and surface rock because the grapes of each wine are identical ….. Pinot Noir!
On the other hand, walking down the hill into Meursault from Volnay you can’t help but start to understand immediately that the wines here are going to be different. Comblanchien limestone that disappears underground at Nuits St George reappears here and has more clay in the surface mix than its neighbouring Volnay. The slopes are lower and facing a slightly different direction too. Many are quite flat with no slope at all. You are now entering the “white wine villages” of Burgundy …. Meursault, St Aubin, Puligny-Montrachet, …… And here the grape is the Chardonnay.
Having a wine holiday is about MORE than just drinking wine, or having lots of wine tastings. There are opportunities to discover lots about wine MAKING, the soil or overall terroir of the region, and to meet some of the vigneron themselves. Two we would recommend are Michel Rebourgeon in Pommard, and Francois Gaunoux in Meursault. The Rebourgeon tasting room is in Pommard, easy to find just inside the village on the right. A small producer with VERY high quality wines reasonably priced, their tastings are free, and likely to be handled by Delphine or her son William, a young up and coming vigneron just out of college. They mostly grow Pinot Noir so have good Pommard and Volnay
Gaunoux tasting room is on the main road between Meursault and Pommard, near Volnay and called Pavillon Gaunoux. Run by Claudine and her husband Jean Pierre, their focus is on Chardonnay from high quality fields some of which are monopoles. They produce some reds too notably from premier cru field Les Grand Epenots, at Pommard. Tasting is also free, often run by Fred, and they do great simple lunches too.
It is clearly impossible to completely describe here the variation in culture, style, and charm of the wine villages of Burgundy, but you will be welcomed in all of them by the hard working and friendly vignerons, so why not pay them a visit?