Drive south on the A31 or D974 beyond Dijon, France, and the landscape will take you back to another time, a time when this land was ruled by the Ducs de Bourgogne, and when Burgundy was a separate state, not part of France, until annexed in 1477. To your right you will see the Côte d’Or, the Golden Slopes, row upon row of vines, mostly Pinot Noir until you are level with the town of Beaune where Chardonnay becomes queen to Pinot Noir’s king. You will pass alongside the towns and villages of Marsannay, Fixin, Gevrey Chambertin, Vougeot, Vosne Romanee, Auxey Duresse, Nuits Saint Georges, like a who’s who of the most iconic and expensive wines on the planet. Every time we drive this route towards our destination, we are reminded that vines have been grown here since antiquity, and were subsequently expanded by religious orders, the Dukes of Bourgogne, and then the modern day wine merchants.
If you want a strong visual image of this, take a look at the Chateau Corton, the classic image of Burgundy with its coloured roof tiles sparkling in the sunlight. This is the landscape full of people who protect the traditions and the terroir, generation after generation to create some of the finest wines in the world. You can taste it!
My series of posts entitled WineArt have been inspired by two of my blogging friends, Marion at Candiacomesclean , and Danell at Vinthropology. Danell is a Sommelier educated in Art & Dance who is now running a Wine & Culture Association in Italy. Marion is quite different, an artist who paints and photographs for pleasure and commercially. She lives just a few hundred yards away from us in our Cotswolds village. Their writing and photography especially have provided the inspiration to look wider and deeper beyond the glass. Wine is often surrounded by or part of aesthetic beauty, landscapes such as a vineyard on the slopes of Burgundy or on the South Downs of England, the architecture of medieval wine villages across Alsace or the chateau of Loire, the exterior of modern day winery buildings, the interiors with sleek stainless steel tanks lined up like something from a science fiction movie, the ancient barrels in a wine cellar, the decor in a brasserie and wine bar. It only takes a little mindfulness to “see” them all.