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The Beautiful Burgundies
Burgundy has been producing high quality, mythical and mystical wines for centuries. The tradition of grape growing and wine making is an old one in Burgundy where the vineyards came into being as early as the second century. Chardonnay and Pinot Noir are the region’s main grape varieties and today there are no less than 113 appellations contrôlées, or controlled designations of origin, of various categories and literally thousands of single sites referred to in French as climates, sites with specific characteristics englobing the grape varieties, the climate, the soil, the vineyard placement and the wine maker’s touch. Here are the renowned wines of the world like the sumptuous Chablis and the wines of the Côte-d’Or, often regarded as Burgundy proper.
The vineyard of Burgundy, revered by those who have been initiated into its mysteries, stretches out as a long twisting ribbon from the pleasant provincial town of Auxerre to south of Macon.
Ranked as a Burgundy although it lies a number of kilometers west of the main Burgundy area, Chablis remains nonetheless one of the great white wines of France. Dry yet rich in taste, it is a great companion for fish and appetizers and is perfectly paired with oysters.
In Burgundy proper is found the sliver of a hillside that harbors the Burgundian gold coast, the Côte d’Or formed by the Côte de Beaune in the south and the Côte de Nuits in the north. This is the heart of Burgundy producing some of the best wines in the world.
Doted with great depth and the fullest of bodies, the Burgundies of the Côte de Nuits are among the most celebrated wines produced anywhere in the world.’Grands Crus ‘ (like Le Chambertin Grand and Le Musigny)are often emanating from tiny vineyards of only two or three rows.
The Côte de Beaune is named for its main town Beaune where a large part of the Burgundian wine trade is entered. The region’s most famous wines are its whites like the great dry Montrachet and the earthy Meursaults. Well-known reds includes Volnay, Pommard and Santenay.
South of the Côte de Beaune is the Châlonnais named for the town of Chalon-sur-Sâone producing the elegant Mercurey and the taste of the good earth wines of Montagny made mostly from the Chardonnay grape.
It is a fascinating world Burgundy, and it is a complex one as well but Jeremie Barberon will walk you through it and introduce you to vintages that are found in his shop and there alone.
A visit to the Cave Barberon will take you on a journey into the delicious world of the Rhône Valley where some 20 different grape varieties grow between Lyon and Avignon The many grape varieties make for the highly pleasant and often pungent wines of the Côtes du Rhône produced in the 100-mile stretch of the Rhône River Valley. Today the most celebrated are sold under their own appellations like the particularly powerful Châteauneuf-du-Pape, which owes its name to the residence of the popes (papes in French) when they lived in Avignon in the 14th century. The robust Châteauneuf-du-Pape, dark colored and full-bodied, comes from the southern part of the region north of Avignon and south of the Roman city of Orange. It is made with as many as 13 grape varieties, which is highly unusual for the French wines regarded as noble wines. While some white Châteauneuf is produced, it is the reds that have made it to the wine stage of the world.
Meanwhile Hermitage wines, regarded as some of the finest in France, come from the area north of Valence around the town of Tain-l’Hermitage. Although wines have been produced in this region since Roman times, Hermitage takes its name from a hermit who planted vines on a hillside above Tain in the early 13th century. The reds are robust and characterized by a strong and flowery bouquet and are made primarily with the Syrah grape. The white Hermitages, made from the Roussanne and Marsanne grape varieties, are doted with an earthy taste and a beautiful golden color.
The Côte Rôtie is in the northernmost portion of the district on the West Bank of the Rhône and its name means roasted hillside referring to the slope where the wine is produced.Generally facing south, the vineyards absorb the rays of the sun. Very ripe grapes are produced for these robust red wines, deep purple in color, and they are made primarily from the Syrah grape variety at times complemented by the Viognier white grape.
These wines and ever more from the Rhône Valley and beyond await to be discovered at the Cave Barberon.
Beautifully matured wines ready for tasting or storing from Bordeaux are found as well at the Cave Barberon. The burnished wood wine cases are filled with fine selections from Bordeaux and be sure to consult the cellar “menus” bursting with grand crus and vintages that are the hallmarks of this cellar, a favorite with local connoisseurs. Jeremie Barberon will take you into a sensational world of Bordeaux with a Rouget from Pomerol or grand crus classée Beau-Séjour Bécot from Saint-Emilion and a host of Sauternes including the Château Caillou and the remarkable Château Guiraud.
For Bordeaux brings to mind the great vintages of Médoc, Graves, Pomerol, Sauternes and those of the beautiful medieval town of Saint-Emilion, whose jurisdiction is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site. These five regions are referred to as Districts of Bordeaux and produce what can be regarded as simply the finest in the land. Médoc, Graves, Saint-Emilion and Pomerol are noteworthy for their reds and Sauternes for its unctuous, unparalleled sweet wines which are white, though actually golden in color. The various appellations d’origine contrôlée meaning controlled designations of origin, tend to reflect the differences in soil.The rocky soil of Bordeaux, studded with pebbles, gravel and sand, offers perfect growing conditions for the Cabernet, Merlot, Malbec, Sauvignon and Sémillon grapes used to make the wines of Bordeaux.
Wine production here has a long history for viticulture was introduced to this fertile region of Aquitaine by the Romans and intensified in the Middle Ages. The wines of the region were shipped to England and over the centuries to the rest of the English colonies and onto the British Empire. The port of Bordeaux played an instrumental role in the reach of the wines of the region.
Vallée de la Loire
In and around its 1000-kilometer course, the Loire brings together myriad vineyards that have only one thing in common: the fact that they are close to the river. Throughout this stretch of the good earth, the diversity and the multitude of vineyards prevails and the wine makers adapted the highly varied grape varieties to both enhance the soil the grapes grow in as well as to confront the climatic conditions.
And so over the course of the river are found the dry and refreshing wines of the region of Nantes, the great smooth and sweet white wines born of the Chenin grape variety inland from the river. And without pretending to be exhaustive there are the renowned red wines of Chinon, the complex wines of Sancerre and the pleasant vineyard of Auvergne. Even on the path of Gargantua, the wine lover would never be able to pour forth and satisfy his thirst for diversity.
The Cave Barberon carries a fine range of fun and festive champagnes for champagne is a wine. It is its sparkle that sets it apart from the others. The Champagne producing district or appellation d’origine contrôlée is very carefully defined. Champagne is made from the fermented and re-fermented juice of largely Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes, and to a lesser degree Pinot Meunier grapes, grown on a group of select hillsides and slopes, the vast majority of which are concentrated in the department of the Marne, in and around the cities of Reims and Epernay. Reims, where no less than 14 houses of champagne can be visited, is one of the great historical places in France for it was here that the country’s kings were by and large coronated.
This symbol of good cheer was born of the hard-working hand of man that knew how to bend and shape the solid earth of France’s Champagne growing region. For it was three centuries of labour by men and women that turned a cold, humid landscape of relatively poor soil of almost pure chalk — responsible for the wine’s distinctive taste — into a world famous beverage synonymous with celebration. And today the Champagne hillsides, houses and cellars are inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List.
Fine French Brandies : Cognac & Bas Armagnac
The Fine French Brandies
The good earth of France has managed to work its gastronomic magic on just about everything and the unique brandies distilled in the region in and around Cognac in southwestern and the armagnacs further south in Gascony are no exception.
Cave Barberon hosts an admirable array of cognacs and armagnacs which Jeremie can explain to you in the finest detail.
The most noble brandy that is armagnac comes from the vineyards south of Bordeaux in the gastronomic land of Gascony. The sandy soil gives the grapes a certain taste and armagnac is distilled once so less of the raw product slips out leaving a powerful and distinctive flavor. Armagnac is produced by a large number of small houses offering a wide range of tastes. Obtained from the distillation of white wine in Armagnac alambics, it is aged for many years in the barrels made of the special black oak of Gascony. It is regarded as the oldest eau-de-vie in France with references going back to its use dating from the 14th century. Here the climate is temperate and gentle and 10 grape varieties are authorized for the production of armagnac although it is four main varieties that give the brandy its distinctive personality: the Ugni Blanc, the Folle Blanche, the Baco and the Colombard
One of the best known of the world’s brandies, cognac has managed to place the town of Cognac firmly on the map of the world since the 17th century. The spirits of the region, perhaps because of the proximity to the sea, perhaps because of the effects of lime in the soil on the grapes, enjoy a unique quality and taste, one that is found nowhere else. Cognac is distilled, twice, from white wine of the Ugni Blanc grape variety with to a much lesser extent the Colombard and Folle-Blanche varieties.
These are very complex and fascinating worlds and delving into their delicious discovery awaits at the Cave Barberon.