I came back to Paris yesterday, after six glorious days in Burgundy. When I boarded the Paris-bound train that morning, the strongest imprint on my mind was not the gorgeous, radiant yellow leafs that painted golden swathes on the slopes, ardently true to the name the Côte d'Or. The far more profound mark was left by the new, abiding respect for the people, their collective love of the land and the terroir, and, of course, the astounding wines they make. Although, they would be the first to tell you that the wine is far less a product of their own making than simply the inevitable result of their stewardship of the land.
It should tell you something when perhaps the best compliment one could give to
a Burgundian vigneron is that his wine is true to the expression
of its terroir. Laurent Ponsot went even further, explaining to me
that even the cépage, the Pinot Noir grape itself, was practically
inconsequential. The Pinot Noir was merely there as a conduit entre le sous-sol et le vin, between
the ground underneath and the wine it makes. Despite how fanciful that statement sounded, it was difficult not to take him seriously. How could I, when each wine, each made from the same grape, by the same wine maker, using practically the same method, aged in the same cave even, yet each tasted different, even to my amateur palate? The only determining variable appeared to be, as all Burgundian wine makers would gladly tell you, the terroir.