When most people think of the world’s best wines, their mind undoubtedly takes them to France. Subsequently, according to ConnexionFrance.com, the French wine industry sells more than €6.33 billion, $8.53 billion, worth of its world class wines every year. Among all sources of the noble beverage selling wine online, French wines, according to The Wall Street Journal, are consistently high sellers.
Clearly, shoppers for wine online and off don’t need to be told that French wine is the best in the world. However, they may be surprised to know how much care goes into each and every bottle of the Bourgogne, Burgundy, wine online stores are selling by the barrel.
The History of Burgundy Wine
According to Terroir-France.com, wine production in the Burgundy region began during the Roman invasion of the mid-fifth century. This invasion, led by Hun mercenaries, would lead to the eventual development of France into a wine superpower. In the sixth century, the powerful Catholic Church received a vineyard as a gift from a local king, cementing the Church for centuries as the best producer of wine in the region.
The French Revolution of 1789 would prove to be the most important year for French wines, however. With the turnover of all state and church property, including wineries, to the Republic, the French, specifically Burgundians, began to learn how to craft wine; eventually, they crafted the finest in the world. It was during this time that Chablis, the northernmost part of Burgundy, rose to prominence as a producer of high quality chardonnay.
The Soil and the Climate
What truly sets Bourgogne wines apart from those found elsewhere in the world is the care taken to provide special soil and geological conditions, terroir in French, to the vineyards. According to bourgogne-wines.com, this means maintaining vineyards over a relatively shallow level of skeletic soils, a layer of brown soils and brown calcium soils, and finally a layer of fallen rocks for adequate irrigation and drainage. Amazingly, much of the Chablis region maintains vineyards on soils dating back to the Late Jurassic Period.
Likewise, Burgundy’s unique climate plays a key role in the development of its grapes, specifically the Chablis variety, into fruits of unique, powerful flavors. Hot summers, frosty springs, and cold, harsh winters are all typical markets of the Burgundian climate, often making it difficult to cultivate and harvest a healthy crop of the region’s distinctive grapes. According to BurgundyEye.com, Burgundy’s winegrowers spend an inordinate amount of time artificially heating, pruning, and protecting their premier cru crops, making up nearly 25% of the region’s vineyards, from the harsh climate. However harsh, the weather gives the region’s grapes their distinctive acidity and balance.
The beautiful, sometimes harsh climate and geography of France’s Burgundy region should not be given all the credit for producing some of the finest vintages in the world. More often than not, it is the wineries and their refined palates that truly shape a bouquet. However, the next time you taste one of the beautiful wines from Bourgogne, remember that you taste the flavors of the terroir and climate.
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