THERE’S a jokey cartoon that makes the rounds occasionally, supposedly illustrating the complicated thought processes inside a woman’s mind.
It’s an intricate network of nuts, bolts, wires and electric circuits, all cross-connecting and interweaving – and nothing seems to make sense.
All I can say is that whoever drew that hadn’t tried to get their head around the intricacies of French wine appellations, local terroir, hierarchies of classifications, labelling – need I go on? Believe me, a woman’s brain is simplicity itself compared to understanding the French wine system.
Take Burgundy. When I think about it my head hurts. Not because I’ve drunk too much of it, I hasten to add.
This region is a confusing little beast and no one column could ever do it justice.
However, I’ve found a helpful little guide – and very user friendly too.
Inside Burgundy: The Côte de Beaune is an interactive eBook to pop on your iPad, produced by Berry Bros. & Rudd Press.
Just for the photographs alone, this is a stunning addition to any wine enthusiast’s library.
Learn more about the famous wine-producing regions such as the Hill of Corton and Pommard – the people, the wines and the terroir.
Master of Wine Jasper Morris can be seen on videos walking through the vines; there are interactive maps which, with one click, take you to more detail on the vineyards and producers of individual areas.
He says: “I feel that over the last 30 years I have developed a body of knowledge and more especially a depth of understanding, of Burgundy that I want to share. If you open a bottle of Burgundy, or go to a tasting, if you visit the vineyards – you can add your own notes and experiences to mine.”
(It is available through the Apple bookstore at £14.99)
I’ve also been tasting Burgundy this week at Vinea on Albert Dock, under the auspices of the Liverpool Wine School.
Chardonnay and pinot noir are the classic grapes of Burgundy – with gamay making fruity wines in the southernmost Beaujolais.
Here’s one of each.
Domaine Gerard Tremblay, Chablis AC (£14.49) is pale lemon with the aroma of freshly cut green apples. It has cheek-pinching acidity with lime and citrus dash through your mouth with the cutting edge, and taste, of a wet steel knife. It is a refreshing, crisp, example of chardonnay from this northern part of Burgundy, where the vines gather their nutrients from ancient seabeds.
Domaine de la Plaigne, Beaujolais-Villages AC (£11.49) is a simple, no-nonsense ruby red wine from the gamay grape with strawberry jam on the nose and to taste. It has medium tannins. This isn’t a complex wine but is very drinkable.
Finally, one of the stars of the show, Domaine Heresztyn, Gevry-Chambertin AC (£45.99). A quality pinot noir, pale garnet with intense aromas of strawberries, herbs, and hints of old oak. Complex, concentrated and classily divine.
The wines are available from Vinea at firstname.lastname@example.org
This time of year Burgundy tastings abound and judgments are passed on the en primeur release. If you want to know more, then these are three websites I’ve found most useful. www.jancisrobinson.com; www.matthewjukes.com; www.timatkin.com