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The Red Wines of Burgundy, Mark Savage (1988)

red-wines-of-burgundy-mark-savagePublished by Octopus Books

Following on from Christopher Fielden’s White Burgundy, 1988 seems a good vintage for books. This is, of-course, the sister book to Jasper’s The White Wines of Burgundy also of that year.

Yet again I seem to have picked up, quite unintentionally, a signed copy – at least this time I don’t need to change my name to Ian!

Summary

  • This is a hardback book of indeterminate size – almost, but not quite, A4 – with less than 80 pages of content.
  • A couple of minimalist maps are provided to give you a basic idea of geography.
  • The forward is by Simon Loftus – how I wish there were more books by him. The content of the book is split into three sections;
    1. Burgundy and its Red Wines
    2. A Buyer’s Guide
    3. Through the Vineyards

  • Included in the content is a description of not just the Côte d’Or, but also the reds of the Yonne, the Côte Chalonnaise, the Mâconnais and Beaujolais.
  • Mark writes well and has the insight of somebody with a long history in the trade. Particularly in this book I found his snapshot of Beaujolais to be highly informative. Likewise, much of the early chapters like to compare and contrast what is done in Beaujolais with the same in Burgundy. Beaujolais may not be (officially) part of Burgundy anymore, but this is certainly material worth having.
  • This is clearly a book of its (1988) time, still asking the question ‘should burgundy be a big powerful wine(?)’

In more detail
Just a selection of quotes that I found interesting.

p10: But few can hope to drink really great Burgundy even once a year: in a lifetime, such wines may be counted in single figures. It is rare stuff indeed.

Personally I hope it’s not that rare – maybe we have much better quality now…

p22: In recent years there has been a good deal of justified grumbling about the quality of red burgundy. Are production methods at fault, or is it simply that a misconception exists as to the true character of the wine?

p25: Merchants’ wines receive more treatment at every stages of their elevage than do growers’ wines, and it is this extra handling which is so dangerous when dealing with naturally fragile wines from the Pinot Noir grape. If there is a single reason why consumers should think twice before buying négociant’s wines, it is that they may simply have less character.

Here there is also a good description of the role of the courtiers.

p29: Rule #2: Beware Bargains: There is never enough good red burgundy to go round, so no quality producer will ever have to discount his wines.

p34: As for basic Beaujolais, most of the best wine is now sold as Beaujolais Nouveau, and because this market is so competitive, it is usually easy to find drinkable wines at a relatively low price, especially in a good vintage.

p46 (discussing Vosne): In practice, the winemaking style of the grower is of more importance than the difference in the soils.

p60: I used to think that like was too small to drink Santenay! Fortunately, I was able to revise my opinions after tasting some splendid wines…

p66: Too often, Mâcon Rouge tastes like an indifferent vin ordinaire and its right to Appellation Contrôlée seems based more on historic reasons than on any inherent quality in the wine itself.

Agree? Disagree? Anything you'd like to add?

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