A beginner’s guide
THE YONNE VINYARDS
The reconstruction of the Yonne vineyards was highly successful and by the end of the 19th century, Chablis wine was one of the most ‘copied’ wines in all the world. The appellation “AOC CHABLIS GRAND CRU” was introduced in 1938 to protect its origins and 3 other appellations (premier cru, Chablis, Petit Chablis) were also introduced.
Grape vines produce different qualities and aromas depending on the different soils and geological structures. This is why to the north East of Auxerre and around Vézelay one finds calcified oyster shell fossil based soils and so Chardonnay vines (white wines) are favoured. This same geological structure also runs through the Champagne vineyards further North. To the South East of Auxerre and in the Tonnerre area one finds more Pinot Noir (red wines) since the soil is clay based .
This world famous white wine needs little introduction. Its superb range of colours, from greeny yellow to golden green, reflect the light from the soil on which the vines grow. The fossilised oyster shell layer on which it is produced gives a distinctive mineral taste and helps digestion. Its clean fruity taste, together with its floral notes, make Chablis ideal to drink as an appetiser or to accompany fish and white meats. One finds an amazing diversity in Chablis wine and it offers an artist’s palette tastes and aromas!
The appellation Irancy wine is produced from Pinot Noir grapes. Irancy is an intensive and vibrant red wine. It has a deep red colour and one discovers a different red fruit taste with each sip. Ideal to serve with red meats.
COULANGES LA VINEUSE
Red wines from this village are lighter in structure than Irancy wine. An aromatic wine with notes of red fruits. Ideal to accompany cheeses and red meat dishes.
Coulanges white wines are less mineral than Chablis (and obviously cheaper) and are very fruity. Coulanges tends to be cheaper than Irancy since it doesn’t have an appellation as of yet…
Serve with fish or white meats.
Red and white wines are produced here and tend to be as light in structure as Coulanges wine, they have a more mineral taste and are fruitier and ‘juicier’ than the Coulanges wines since the soil on which this wine is produced contains less clay.
80% of the fruity wine from this village is white, since it’s very close to Chablis. The Pinot Noir produced her is very aromatic and tends to be ‘purer’ and lighter than other regions.
“wine tasting in a wine cellar”
The village of Saint Bris is the only area in the whole of Burgundy where Sauvignon grapes are grown. This incisive white wine, with its notes of citrus fruits makes an excellent aperitif.
This pleasant and relatively inexpensive white wine is crisp and fruity and is used as THE WINE to make Kir with. Kir is the name give to the aperitif of white wine mixed with a blackcurrant liqueur.
Red and rosé wines can be found here. They tend to be a little more strict and ‘austere’ than other wines from the Yonne region since wines from the Tonnerois grapevines are still in development. In 1977 only 20 acres of vineyards remained and the vineyards are now being replanted. A young vineyard waiting to be discovered and one to keep your eye on…
This appellation was awarded in 2006 to this white wine that is fruitier and less mineral than Chablis since the grapes express themselves rather than the soil on which the wine is produced.
This rich and dense white wine (Chardonnay) which is fruitier than Chablis was reintroduced thanks to the Michelin star restaurant owner Marc Méneau. There’s nothing better than sipping a glass of this white wine in a café whilst admiring the wonderful site of Vézelay!
Yet another vineyard, the Côtes St. Jacques that has been redeveloped thanks to Michel Lorrain from the famous Michelin star gastronomic restaurant. Some very pleasant white and rosé wines and a little red wine to try.
CREMANT DE BOURGOGNE
This sparkling, vibrant and aromatic white wine is produced respecting the Champagne method and is grown on the same geological fossil soil formation that is to be found in the Champagne region of France. For those of you who need to budget, it’s much better to purchase a good Crémant than a poor quality Champagne and some very excellent Crémants are produced here.
It’s particularly worth trying the Crémant from the Caves de Bailly!
© Jacquie Boulton-Bridoux with special thanks to Marc Regaine