Anthony Gismondi: Bourgogne AOC wines have risen to the occasion


The quality of Bourgogne AOC wines has never been better, and the Bourgogne appellation as it relates to the wine region has never been clearer.

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The quality of Bourgogne AOC wines has never been better, and the Bourgogne appellation as it relates to the wine region has never been clearer. At its highest level, Bourgogne is simply the French name for the wine-growing region the English-speaking world refers to as Burgundy. The Germans call it Burgund, and the Italians call Borgogna, to name but a few of its iterations.

Its origins began as a region that emerged amid the crossroads of trade between all Europe — north, south, east and west, or pretty much the way it remains today. But the term Bourgogne AOC is also a regional appellation covering all of Burgundy. It is also the lowest of the four classification levels to which all the wines of Burgundy are entitled, in essence covering the areas outside the famous sub-appellations or any wines that do not meet their strict production rules.

For most of the last 40 years, Bourgogne wine was always pitched as a lesser wine, certainly, a less expensive offering when compared to Burgundy’s famous appellations within the Cote d’Or. That idea is changing in a good way. The Bourgogne appellation was reborn in 2012 when the Bourgogne Wine Board (BIVB) decided to stop translating”Bourgogne” into the home market’s language where it was selling. By insisting on labelling the wine using French, the BIVB concluded it was essential to use one name globally, and logically that name was Bourgogne.


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When you consider that half of all Bourgogne wines produced are sold on export markets in 170 countries and territories, you can understand why a single moniker makes so much sense. I might add, in a business known for its connection with “place,” why mess with an original name?

“Our appellations are like our forenames, which makes Bourgogne our family name. A name that unites us all with our shared values embracing all the diversity of our wines. You don’t translate a family name,” says François Labet, president of the BIVB.

Clearing up the Bourgogne issue has been helpful, but let us not forget the wine is still French. With over 200 million bottles sold every year, you guessed it. There is more than one “Bourgogne.”

Today, the base Bourgogne label can be appended with other names, be they grape varieties like Aligoté, a wine types such as Blanc, Clairet, Crémant, Mousseux, Passe-Tout-Grain, Rosé or Rouge. It can even come attached to a municipality or a site name. The main white wine variety is Chardonnay, others are Pinot Blanc, Pinot Beurot (Pinot Gris), Aligoté, Melon de Bourgogne and Sacy. The main red wine variety is Pinot Noir, others include Pinot Liébault, Gamay, César and Tressot Noir.

With Bourgogne no longer translated into dozens of languages, the region is taking back its identity and solidifying its story. Nor does it hurt that French producers have considerably upped their quality game across the category. Burgundy may be seen as staid and traditional, but the ongoing evolution of wine-growing, winemaking and young people has made a big difference to its wines. We love the transparency, and like all things wine, the subtleties of place become clearer over time.


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I remember when a lot of Bourgogne Blanc tasted like cardboard and acid while Bourgogne Rouge was equally thin and funky. It is not the case today. The new Bourgogne is finally beginning to live up to its much-extolled virtues as the stepping stones to great Burgundy.

For the curious, it is worth searching out some of the latest offerings in retail stores from Louis Jadot, Louis Latour, Joseph Drouhin, Jean-Marc Boillot, Daniel Rion and more. Retailers, government and private will only be happy to show you their selections.

Weekend wine picks

Ormarine Picpoul de Pinet Les Pins De Camille 2019, Coteaux du Languedoc, France

$16.49 I 88/100

UPC: 3186127768690

We love the reliability of this wine, and if you have been wandering into the fresher, slimmer wine side of the market, this is the one to kick off your patio season. Picpoul is the grape;  its flavours span white peach, pear, greengage, lemon verbena, honeysuckle and more, balanced over a whiff of yeasty lees before a short but clean finish. My colleague Treve Ring suggests you serve this with steamed clams and that you tip some of this wine into the pan to steam them open. On sale this month at $16.49.

Santa Carolina Sauvignon Blanc Reserva 2020, Valle de Leyda, Valle de San Antonio, Chile

$13.99 I 87/100

UPC: 7804350596366

By its taste, this Sauvignon appears to be from New Zealand. By its price, it has to be from Chile. Lucky for you, both statements are true. Look for a fresh nose of grapefruit, canned jalapeno, passion fruit, bitter green melon and mineral notes that spill across the palate with very similar tones. You cannot ask for more at this price, and you can serve it with a variety of foods from seafood and sushi to chicken and vegetarian dishes.


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Louis Jadot  Bourgogne Chardonnay Couvent des Jacobins 2018, Burgundy, France

$31.99 I 89/100

UPC: 3535926005008

You seldom find any white Burgundy that delivers like this label at $32. Traditionally a mix of fruit from the Côte Chalonnaise, the Mâconnais and the Hautes-Côtes de Beaune, but lately, Jadot has added a portion of Cote d’Or to improve the quality significantly. Look for toast, baked apple, pear that tumbles onto the palate where they mix with citrus and a creamy undercarriage. Pair with citrus seafood dishes. Well done.

Valle Las Acequias Malbec Oak 2015, Mendoza, Argentina

$23.99 I 89/100

UPC: 7798067083731

The vines are elderly at 85 years old, from the Don Angelino estate in Medrano, Mendoza. The attack is dense and chewy, the fruit is black and intense, followed by dusty spices and still a few sticky tannins. It spends ten months in French oak that seems more about getting some air into the wine than any noticeable wood. Ripe and savoury, you could give this some more time in bottle or serve it now with a grilled steak.

Sea Change Merlot 2018, Vin de Pays d’Oc, Languedoc, Sud de France, France

$22 I 88/100

UPC: 5060137515162

The more I taste this brand, the more I like it. The sustainability aspects are attractive, and from corks, bottles, labels and fruit, it is constructed to help protect our seas and the planet. But none of that works unless the wine is worth drinking. Enter the Pay’s d’Oc fruit and Merlot that sings deliciously. Balanced, round, flavourful and persistent, this is the definition of easy-drinking and should be applauded for its style. Blue and black fruit, a dash of spice and light tannins come together perfectly. Well-priced and ready to drink. Available at Everything Wine.


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Recipe match: Parmesan garlic roasted haricot vert

If your usual vegetable rotation is getting a little … tired, consider subbing in this garlicky green bean dish created by the team at Vancouver-based Tractor Foods. This green bean — or haricot vert, if you’re feeling fancy — recipe is as simple as it gets in terms of preparation. But, while the dish may lack a long list of complicated ingredients, it doesn’t lack in flavour. Serve these roasted green beans with your preferred protein and maybe a nice side of wild rice to round out the plate.

2 cups (500 mL) haricot vert (green beans), trimmed

2 tsp (10 mL) extra virgin olive oil

1/2 tsp (2.5 mL) salt

1-2 cloves garlic

1 tbsp (15 mL) Parmesan, finely grated

Lemon wedges, for garnish

Preheat oven to 425F. Toss all ingredients, except for the lemon wedges, in a medium-sized bowl. Place coated beans on a parchment lined baking sheet and spread out evenly. Roast for 10-15 minutes until starting to caramelize. Serve with lemon wedges.

Recipe match

A lively Pinot Gris or Pinot Grigio should easily take on this flavourful dish, cleansing the palate for the next bite.

Blue Grouse Estate Pinot Gris 2019, Cowichan Valley, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

$25.99 I 89/100

UPC: 626990423423

Some of the oldest Pinot Gris vines in B.C. (34 years) offer up a creamy texture laced with green apple and citrus notes ready to take on the Parmesan and garlic in this dish.

Mt. Boucherie Pinot  Gris 2019, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, Canada

$19.99 I 87/100

UPC: 812289000257

Baked pears and quince paste flavours present with richness and power to stand up to this intensely flavoured bean dish.


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