French Wine Explained By A French Native

My name is Julie Gilles, a French native hailing from the region of Champagne and today I represent Maison de Grand Esprit (MDGE) as a Brand Ambassador. In September 2018, I had the opportunity to join MDGE winemaker Sebastien Long  on a journey through of France’s most famous wine regions to discover the origins of each of our beautifully crafted Maison de Grand Esprit wines.

Beaune Map Isolated

First Stop: Bourgogne (Or as you may know it, Burgundy!)

We begin our trip in Burgundy, or more specifically its most prestigious of four sub-regions, the Cote d’Or (the three others being Chablis, Côte Chalonnaise, and Mâconnais).

Bourgogne is a long, narrow wine region located in Eastern France, 3 hours’ drive southeast of Paris.

Left: Beaune (circled) is just Southeast of Paris.

burgundy wine road

Beaune, Cote d’Or

The wine capital of Burgundy

On a sunny September day at the end of the harvest, we dropped our bags to the historic Hotel de la Cloche in the heart of Beaune, before jumping in our car to visit the vineyards of our passionate wine growers, where the life begins for two of our distinctive wines: L'être Magique Bourgogne Rouge and La Mystèriale Santenay Premier Cru.

On the drive out of town, we discussed the history of the region and its origins that date back to the 1st century AD, when the Roman’s planted grapes to make wine to keep their thirsty armies happy. However, it wasn’t until after the fall of the Roman Empire, when the Catholic Church took over the wine-making duties, that Burgundian wines were elevated to a new level. Today, the region is widely considered the greatest winemaking region in the world, much to the disappointment of Bordeaux, or of course my home region, Champagne.

The Vineyards of Beaune

Walking through the vineyards Sebastien explains his desire for L’être Magique Bourgogne Rouge to be fruity, fresh, light and lively, a wine suited to any occasion. In order to achieve this, Sebastien must be meticulous in both his vineyard and berry selection, to ensure that he is able to create a wine of great character, consistent in style and quality each year.

Left:  Winemaker Sebastien Long monitors the grapes carefully.

Santenay

19 km South of Beaune

After a long and super convivial lunch catching up with some of Sebastien’s winemaker friends, we dashed off once again, this time to the incredibly special village of Santenay, known for its picturesque landscape, but also and most importantly, for its high-quality Pinot Noir.

Remember the four sub-regions of Burgundy we spoke of before? Well they are further split into 84 appellations d'origine controlee (AOC)! Yes, we French like to make things incredibly complicated! The village of Santenay is one of these AOCs, and within this AOC, 110ha of Pinot Noir vineyards are classified as Premiers Crus, Burgundy’s second highest classification, and a guarantee of quality and specific origin.

Right: Santenay is known for its picturesque landscapes.

pinot noir grapes in burgundy wine region

French Pinot Noir

Native to Bourgogne, the Pinot Noir is a delicate and complex varietal, with aromas of red fruits and spices. Young Pinot Noir can smell almost sweet with freshly crushed raspberries, cherries and redcurrants. When mature, the best wines develop a sensuous, silky mouth feel with the fruit flavours deepening. Being at the southern tip of the Cote d'Or, Santenay Premiers Crus’ vineyards are blessed with excellent south-facing exposure to the sun and ideal conditions to make high quality Pinot Noir.

With La Mystèriale Santenay Premier Cru, Sebastien seeks to craft a wine of greater intensity, richness and depth than its little brother L’être Magique Bourgogne Rouge. This wine is a product of its terroir, a concept that attempts to capture the combined influence of the land (soil), Mother Nature (the weather) and man (the hand of the winemaker) and how this is able to create distinct and unique wines expressive of where they are from. This is a wine made to be shared amongst friends and family over a great meal.

Above: The Pinot Noir grape has aromas of red fruits and spices.

beef burgundy stew recipe and image

Traditional Burgundy Cuisine

After wandering around Santenay and exploring its famous windmill, we finally made our way back to Beaune, where we shared a traditional Burgundian dinner. A dozen of Escargots (snails) cooked in butter with chopped garlic and parsley were followed by the creamy Oeuf en Meurette, (eggs poached in a red wine sauce) and of course, no meal in or trip to Burgundy is complete without a hearty Boeuf Bourguignon matched to a bottle of Maison de Grand Esprit Santenay Premier Cru!

Right: Boeuf Bourguignon is a Burgundian delicacy.


3 reasons to fall in love with the Burgundy wines of Maison de Grand Esprit

  1. If you are looking for an exquisitely rich yet elegant expression of Burgundy Pinot Noir, you must try La Mystèriale Santenay Premier Cru. (Vintage 2015 recently awarded 91 points by world famous wine critic James Suckling) So inviting you will always want more!

  2. L’être Magique Bourgogne Rouge is approachable and yet so tasty! It is a versatile partner for your everyday wine moments.

  3. And if you want sparkles in your glass, Maison de Grand Esprit also offers L’être Magique Crémant de Bourgogne. Made in the traditional Champagne method, this is a spectacular example of French sparkling wine, perfect with every one of life's celebrations. Santé!
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