Wine Discovery Week 4: The Wines of France
Wednesday, November 14, 2012 at 2:58PM
truthinjuice in Bordeaux, Burgundy, Terroir, Wine Discovery

In the fourth week of our Wine Discovery Series at Levity, we focused on the wines of France. On Monday night, we discussed the French appellation d'origine contrôlée (AOC) system, and how it governs the production of French wines, as well as other agricultural products in France. We moved from a discussion of the AOC moved to an instruction of how to read a French wine label, and then explored a few key French wine regions in detail. 

We began the evening with two white wines from the Loire Valley, a Saviennieres and a Muscadet. After briefly touching on the history of those two regions, and the general characteristics of their wines, we changed over to red wines for our exploration of France's two most heralded wine producing regions: Burgundy and Bordeaux. 

It would be impossible to provide a comprehensive overview of even one of these regions in a single evening, let alone attempt to cover them both. However, we did manage to talk about the wines of Burgundy in terms of terroir, and how Burgundy's classification system (Grand Cru, Premier Cru, Village Appellation, Regional Appellation) reflects the region's profound respect for terroir. 

On the other end of the spectrum, in Bordeaux, we talked about the 5 red grapes that are permitted for use in the production of red Bordeaux wines, and about the fact that while specific subregions (e.g., St. Estèphe, Pauillac, St. Julien, Margaux, St. Émilion, etc.) exist within the larger appellation of Bordeaux, the 1855 classification focused on individual chateaux. As Bordeaux's first-growths, second-growths, third-growths, were defined based on the merits of the winery and winemaker in 1855, one could argue that Bordeaux places less emphasis on terroir than does Burgundy.

The night's tasting lineup was as follows:

We have two more weeks in our Wine Discovery Series at Levity. This coming Monday, November 19th, we will explore the wines of Italy, with a special guest, Rafael Flores, owner of Artisanal Cellars. Founded in 2007, Artisanal Cellars is the youngest of Vermont's six wine distributors, but they have an incredible portfolio, which features natural, terroir-driven wines from Italy, France, Austria, Argentina, Hungary, Portugal, Spain, and the United States. I'm a huge fan of Artisanal Cellar's Italian portfolio, and it will be fun to have Rafael on hand to talk about the wines, as he knows the producers, and has traveled to the vineyards.

Our last class, on November 26th, will feature a discussion of Champagne, and a celebratory review of the topics covered during the course. 

As always, classes are $20 per person. Hope to see you at one of our final two classes in the Fall Wine Discovery Series at Levity, and stay tuned for some exciting class/tasting announcements coming soon!

Article originally appeared on Truth In Juice: Wine Education & Commentary (
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