Monday, June 17, 2019

Burgundy AOC Simplified

Burgundy AOC Simplified

Burgundy AOC Simplified Pyramid by ©LeDomduVin 2019 

Recently, during a discussion about wine with a few wine amateurs, while sipping rosé outside under bright sunshine (a rare thing in Hong Kong), one of them told me: "I love Pinot Noir, but they don't make Pinot Noir in France..., do they?

I was surprised, and it almost broke my heart to hear that, but I didn't judge, I kept my cool and ask her a simple question: "Did you ever drink red wine from Burgundy?"

"Yes," she said, and added, "I like them very much".  

"Well, the red wines from Burgundy are made with Pinot Noir, that's surely why you like them" I answered

"...but Pinot Noir is not written on the label, that's why I never realized they were made with Pinot Noir," she replied. 

And that was the moment, I realized that despite all the wine school, tastings, classes, books, videos,  news, reportages, websites, social media pages, etc, etc... widely available in most cities of the world and online, they are still tonnes of people out there that have difficulties to read and understand French wine's labels, and more especially to know which grape varieties they have been made with. 

You see, back 20-25 years ago, the French were very sarcastic about the fact that most new world  wines stated the grape variety on the label (e.g. Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, etc...) for easier recognition of the type of wine, and, to a certain extent, of the taste of the wine too.

And, although I admit that in regions where various grape varieties are blended together, it would be difficult to do (e.g. Bordeaux, Rhone Valley and Languedoc-Roussillon). Yet, in other regions where only one grape variety goes into the wine (e.g. Chardonnay for White Burgundy), it could have been a good idea. Even if not on the front label, at least on the back label (which is now more often the case that it used to be back then). Like in Alsace, for example, where varieties such as Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Muscat have always been stated on the bottle. So, why not doing it if it can help the consumers?



But, the French, especially in regions such as Bordeaux and Burgundy, are traditionalists by nature, often reluctant to make changes to secular traditions or even to slightly change their way to adapt to the rest of the world. French products in general, wine included, are all about skill, craftsmanship, regional artisanal culture and traditions, usually the life-long career's work of people who have put their heart, time and passion to craft distinctive products proud of their origins and the country they come from.

Thus, whether you agree or not, you can only respect the French's protective attitude and conservative approach about making any changes, as they are renown for the origin, quality and durability of their products and want to keep them as they are. Making even the slight changes in France often command time, patience and long deliberations prior to a final decision is made. More especially knowing the French take their work-life balance very seriously (35h working law, etc...) and habitually ate being pushed or rushed on doing something unplanned.

The French dislike indecision, preferring the people who know what they want and can make reflective decisions rather than hasty action decision. That said, they can make and take quick decisions and help when needed too, as long as it is not right before lunch or prior to summer vacations (needless to say that nothing gets done in France between the end of June and early September).     

You have to understand that France, despite all of its talents and prowess in technologies, medicine, architecture, design, fashion, luxury goods in general, and in many other sectors, has remained an old-fashion country with a very rural background, unavoidably coming with the rural, backward, narrow-minded and conservative attitude most French are notorious for.

Funny to think about the cliché of the French being charming, laid back, smiley, with a certain insouciance, "laissez-faire", "laissez-aller" and "joie-de-vivre", even being by definition sexy and fashionable for some, when most likely, while visiting France, you'll find them usually rather rude, pessimistic, grumpy, long-faced, complaining or making a fuss about something, and being opinionated or know-it-all about everything and anything, often pompous and snob in many ways. 

Amongst other things, for example, when, in a restaurant, a hotel or even a boutique retail store in France (especially in Paris), who never experienced the contempt look of a posh Maître D', a concierge or a luxury goods retailer, raising one condescending eyebrow and politely disdaining you with an unfriendly-dry "Monsieur?" or "Madame?", simultaneously simulating some form of respect for you while questioning your right to exist at the same time. Sounds familiar, isn't it?

Yes, the French can be unpleasant, up-their-nose, condescending, posh, arrogant, mannered and unpolite bourgeois (a behaviour they refer to as being sophisticated), or at the opposite, rustic, rough, uneducated, grumbling, antipathic, unmannered and still unpolite peasants (totally unsophisticated), or anything in between, as well as being annoyed and annoying, frustrated and frustrating, grumpy and unfriendly, dry, sarcastic, proud-to-a-fault, abusing the use of 2nd-degree jokes and metaphors sometimes difficult to understand, and, etc... etc... this list is non-exhaustive, but it is enough for you to get the idea (and for me to think it out loud), and even if I could complete this list with more adjectives, I shouldn't be all negative about the French, after all, being one myself...

So, yes, the French are all the above, yes... but,... they can also be charming, sophisticated, refined, elegant, cultivated, well-dressed and well-mannered, with a taste for luxury and lust, culture and traditions, history and complicated stories, femme-fatales and charismatic men, mingled with this "je-ne-sais-quoi" of confident demeanor and innate nonchalance, that almost make them cool and sexy.

Needless to also mention their a taste for interior design, architecture, their attention to details and most importantly their unsurpassed "savoir-faire", mastery and traditions in the Art of Culinary, Hospitality and Service with "l'Art de la table et du service", "le bien boire et le bien manger" et "surtout le bien recevoir".

And let's not forget their often excessive, well-educated table manners, which often make us love them even more, especially when having an endless conversation sitting around a well-dressed table where an array of good food is usually paired with carefully selected wines, the way only the French hold the secret of. Surely some of the reasons why the world envies the French way of living, drinking, eating, and kissing too.           


And 25 years later, I'm realizing that the topic is still of actuality, like some people, even if somewhat knowledgeable and more than occasional drinkers, still don't know apparently. 

So, regarding Burgundy, I told her that although it is a complex and complicated region to understand, I will try to explain to her in a very simple manner via some illustrations (drawings, shapes, graphs, pyramids, processes, cycles, and other visuals) for her (and others) to better understand. And that is what prompts me to write this post.    

💥 Work in progress, to be finished soon💥

Santé! Cheers!

LeDomduVin (a.k.a. Dominique Noël)

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