Burgundy: The Taste of Terroir

The glories of Burgundy. A land rich in history, wine and food. You have heard me say there is no separation of church and wine. Though viticulture and wine consumption began long before Christianity, the church played a key role in the global spread of vineyards and the use of wine in celebration of the Sacraments. This history is true in Burgundy as well. Viticulture dates back to 51BC with its beginning credited at times to the Romans, and other times to the Celts. But it was during the reign of Charlemagne that Catholic monks influence began what remains today as the world’s love affair with Burgundian wine. The French Winophiles are kicking off 2016 with our first stop in Burgundy. So please join me as we take a virtual trip to Burgundy.

Burgundy is located in the eastern central part of France. Though Bordeaux produces four times more wine each year than Burgundy, Burgundy wines are among the most exclusive wines on earth. Furthermore, Burgundy wines are recognized as some of the most terroir driven wines in the world. In my opinion Burgundy can be a bit complicated to navigate. Thankfully there is great information on the web to help decipher the region, including one of my favorites Bourgognes, which is packed with easy to follow information. In order to take a deeper dive in to understanding French wines I declared the summer of 2014 my summer of French wines, and I kicked off my learning (and tasting) in Burgundy. As a true Pinot Noir lover, and a lover of genuinely beautifully crafted Chardonnay, I personally love the wines produced in Burgundy. Though it is one of the most expensive wine regions in the world there are gems of great value that are also easy to find in Burgundy.


A few key facts about Burgundy:

  • Burgundy contains five wine growing areas: Chabils, Côte de Nuits, Côte de Beaune, Côte Chalonnaise, and Mâconnais
  • Burgundy primarily produces Pinot Noir and Chardonnay
  • Burgundy’s climate is predominately continental with short summers and cool winters, the landscape is characterized for its limestone soil that brings a depth of minerality and complexity to the wines produced here
  • Burgundy wines are classified into 100 Appellations d’Origine Contrôlée to guarantee the authenticity of the wines from the region, the diversity of the terrior and the expertise of the winemakers. These are divided into 4 levels of quality that are important to know when purchasing Burgundy:
    • Regional wines: crafted from grapes anywhere in Burgundy, fresh and light
    • Village wines: step up, named from town near where the grapes are sourced, my favorite is Pouilly Fuisse
    • Premier Cru Burgundy: wines from special vineyard areas within a village called “climats,” complex wines, still affordable, great with food, cellar worthy
    • Grand Cru Burgundy: just over 1% of Burgundy’s annual production, bold, powerful, complex, made for cellaring, cost top dollar, there are 33 total Grand Cru vineyards in Burgundy, some are located adjacent to Premier Cru vineyards

Burgundy Muzard 2012

I chose to explore Burgundy this month with a Premier Cru from Santenay, Gravières climat. Located in the far southern edge of Côte de Beaune, Santney includes 12 Premier Cru Climats, and produces mostly red wines with characteristics of floral notes, red fruit, and spice, that are mineral driven with supple texture, firm and intense tannins and long finishes. As you will see this certainly held true with my selection.


Burgundy Muzard 2012 Premier CruDomaine Lucien Muzard et Fils 2012 Santenay Gravières Premier Cru: This 100% Pinot Noir poured a soft ruby into the glass; red and black raspberries, blue berries, and strawberries envelope the nose followed closely by rose petals, white pepper, spice, savory herbs of thyme, all resting on a firm foundation of minerality; it was light and lively on the palate with layers of complexity that developed more with each sip; supple on the palate yet firm in acidity with surprisingly well integrated tannins lead to a tart, mouth-watering, long finish; an absolutely lovely wine. SRP $49.99

The Muzard’s have been cultivating wine in Burgundy as a father/son winery for 9 generations. Muzard employs a natural approach to their wine making; hand-harvested, sorting and predominately de-stemmed, native yeast fermentation, temperature controlled wooden fermentation tanks for 2 weeks before pressing and placing in barrels. All their wines are aged in lightly toasted French oak barrels, which depending on the vintage could include up to 40% new, lasting 12 to 18 months.


As I said earlier Burgundy is also a region of great French cuisine. Coq au vin and Beef Bourguignon are two of the regions world class dishes. And of course who can forget Dijon mustard! I love both of the afore mentioned dishes; however, time did not permit me from being able to create one of these meals to share with you. As luck would have it Another Food Blogger published a recipe for Classic French Onion Soup as I was needing to take my family to Burgundy for the evening. Viola! I whipped up a batch of French Onion Soup, popped the top on the Muzard Santenay Premier Cru and we wined and dined in Burgundy! The soup was delicious and my family loved it! One recommendation, double the recipe, the onions condense so much through caramelization that we barely had enough for four people. Otherwise the flavor was great and it was super easy to make. Furthermore, the earthiness of the soup paired beautifully with the mineral driven Burgundy. However, my favorite enjoyment of the wine was sipping it without food by a warm fire with my husband.

classic french onion soup3

classic french onion soup2

Let’s see what other great Burgundy wines my fellow French Winophiles discovered for 2016:

Please join us at 10CST for our Twitter chat using #Winophiles and share you love of Burgundy; and join us again on February 20th at 10CST as we journey north to Alsace.

My Song Selection: I often feel well-crafted Pinot Noir is like jazz. It has a complex structure created by layers of flavors and textures with a bit of improvisation added through the terroir. Just like this song, the Domaine Lucien Muzard et Fils 2012 Santenay Gravières Premier Cru is “Nice n’ Easy.”

Get your own bottle of Domaine Lucien Muzard et Fils 2012 Santenay Gravières Premier Cru or any other wine from Burgundy and let me know what song you pair with it. Cheers!


20 responses to “Burgundy: The Taste of Terroir”

  1. Michelle, you are such a love for sharing my recipe! I am so sorry about the amount! I cook for a family of three but it looked like it was enough for four people as we had one serving left over. (But then again, my ramekins were kind of small.) Anyways, your tour of Burgundy was delightful! I do like your virtual tours of the complex regions of wines. 🙂

  2. What a terrific pairing! French Onion and Burgundy is an ideal pairing. The wine sounds divine! I’m always curious what song you select to pair with – you are responsible for a good portion of my itune downloads!

    PS, love your new design!

    • It was really ideal and Kathryn’s recipe was great. I am so glad you like my songs pairings! You must have an eclectic iPod! Also thanks for your kind words about my new design. My 19yr old daughter took it over and said it needed upgrading. Who knew? Cheers.

  3. Santenay (along with St. Aubin) were my two favorite towns in Burgundy as they used to be generally affordable. Alas, that is slowly changing, but Santenay still holds a warm spot in my heart. I am a sucker for both les Gravières, les Maladières, la Comme, and le Clos des Mouches all stoke a fire. The town itself is not very big (don’t blink), but riding through the vineyards is always a joy….

    • Riding through the vineyards sounds incredible! I find Burgundy a bit confusing but over the years I am slowly figuring it out. I do absolutely love Burgundy’s rouge, blancs and Chablis for me is truly Chardonnay heaven! Thanks for reading Jeff!

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