Why does Burgundy produce the best chardonnay and pinot noir?

France's Burgundy region is renowned for its pinot noir and chardonnay, but unfavourable weather conditions have significantly reduced the quantity and quality of wine being produced.

The past three vintages have been hampered by marginal weather conditions

Employees squeeze grapes at the Louis La Tour domain in Aloix Cordon, near Beaune, Burgundy, France. (Associated Press)

France's Burgundy region is renowned for its pinot noir and chardonnay, but unfavourable weather conditions have significantly reduced the quantity and quality of wine being produced.

"There's always a debate amongst wine lovers and people in the trade, 'Is it really worth it? Do we give it too much credit?'" said Barbara Philip, On the Coast wine columnist. "It is so expensive to produce, plus there is worldwide demand for it, so the prices reflect both of those sides of the equation." 

Burgundy is located in what is referred to as a marginal climate, which can make growing grapes difficult.

"[You're] Always praying you are not going to get a late spring frost or an early fall rain or hail that could come even in the hottest of the summer months," said Philip. 
On the Coast wine columnist Barb Philip (CBC)

Burgundy has experienced exactly those conditions over the last three years, Philip said.

Philip, who is also a Portfolio Manager for the British Columbia Liquor Distribution Branch, says prices in B.C. stores are creeping up and stocks have really gone down.

Despite the scarcity and price of Burgundy wines, Philip says the chardonnay and pinot noir produced in the region is the best and most sublime in the world.

"There's something particular that all of those marginal weather conditions give you in Burgundy," said Philip. "The finesse of the chardonnay — the power that's mixed with the finesse. The pinot noir — silky and complex in flavour, so people really seek that out."

Master of Wine Barbara Philip's Burgundy Wine picks

  • Faiveley Bourgogne Pinot Noir. 2012. $22.99
  • La Chablisienne Chablis 'les Pierelee'. 2012. $24.39
  • Domaine du Chalet Pouilly-Fuissé 2012. $31.29
  • Domaine Maurice Ecard Savigny-les-Beaune 1er cru 'les Narbantons'. 2009. $31.29

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