The basis of the originality of the Burgundy wines.
The terroir, in Burgundy, is the basis of the Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée.
In Burgundy, the notion of terroir is a wide concept which include natural and human factors at the same time. Indeed, this are the winemakers, sometimes helped by the monks who had discovered, identified and then highlighted the terroir. It took centuries of hard work to make this concept stand the test of time and be officially recognized, notably thanks to the creation of the I.N.A.O. and the appellations of origin.
Today, after more than 1000 years, the terroir continue to assert itself in Burgundy as a modern concept duplicated in the world because it represents and convey original, authentical, traditional and typical values that are cherished by consumers.
The base of the terroir is above all the subsoil and the soil from which the vine draws its nutrients and composes the secret alchemy of colors, aromas and flavors.
In Burgundy, the geological origin and the physicochemical composition of the soils are much diversified. It could differ between each vineyards but also within the same vineyard, village or locality.
That is why the Burgundian vineyard is presented as he form of a huge mosaic composed by thousands of plots (here called “climats”), mostly smaller. Despite of this diversity, Burgundy own a certain degree of geological and pedological unity from the North to the South: sedimentary soils composed of clay, marl and limestones, deposited 150 million years ago during the Jurassic period on another substrate much more older composed of granite, lavas, gneisses and various schists. The alteration of marine sedimentary rocks is therefore at the origin of the clay-limestone soils on which he Burgundian grape varieties have found their ground of expression.
Pinot Noir appreciates fairly calcareous and well-drained marly soils on which, depending on the proportion of limestone and the location of the plot, it will give a light and elegant red wine or a powerful and full-bodied wine. Chardonnay prefers marly limestone soils with clay where it develops all its elegance and the finesse of its aromas. It is the proportion of clay in the soil that determines the more or less aromatic and full-bodied style of the great dry white wines of Burgundy.
If the nature of the soil is the key element of the terroir, many other natural factors have an influence on the quality, typicity and expression of a wine: the exposure of the plot, its altitude, the deepness and drainage of the soil, the climatic conditions of the year and microclimate. Finally, the role of the Man is a determining factor in the production of a wine: in the vineyard according to the choice and application of cultivating methods, from pruning to harvesting, and in the cellar during the winemaking and maturing process.
Understanding the AOCs
Burgundy is well-known for its prestigious Appellations d’Origine Contrôlée. She contains an exceptional diversity of natural production conditions thanks to which many AOCs can be found today.
But what exactly is an AOC?
It is a sign of quality that guarantees the characteristics of the product, which are: the terroir of origin, which served as the basis for the classification of the appellations, the method of production, the history of the product and the know-how of the winemaker. Each AOC is subject to meticulous control at all stages of production and merchandising.