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BURGUNDY, CÔTE D'OR, BEAUJOLAIS, ETC.
Côte d'Or-Nuits-Vosne-English Travellers-Chambertin-ClosVougeôt - Cellars in Nuits- Memo. of Tasting — Pommard Beaune-Meursault-Montrachet-Chablis─Mâcon- BeaujolaisSparkling Burgundy-Lyons - Tain-Tournon-Hermitage-The Rhône Memo. of Tasting.
N writing the word Burgundy, the difficulty of the task I have undertaken comes vividly before me; for this district extends fifty miles in length, and forms the departments of Yonne, Côte d'Or, and Saône-et-Loire. At Joigny, about a hundred miles to the south-east of Paris, the department of Yonne begins. Farther southward, Dijon is reached, and as the next stations are Vougeôt and Nuits, we find ourselves in the midst of the most celebrated vineyards; and continuing the same route we arrive at Beaune, and still farther on at Mâcon, the central dépôt for Mâcon and Beaujolais wines.
This is a most favoured vinous district, as we come upon the spots noted for the full-bodied kinds of wine produced along the Saône and Rhône, including every variety of red and white. Here are Richebourg, Romanée-Conti, Montrachet, Meursault, the finest in existence; then Volnay, Pommard,
THE FRENCH AT HOME.
Chablis, Pouilly, Tonnerre, which are excellent, and not nearly so costly as the former. Also Auxerre, Epineul, Maligny, Fontenay, for general use. But it would be tedious to enumerate the varieties, for every parish has its own. The peculiarities in the growth of each little vineyard are known in its locality, and the wine is valued according to the estimation in which it is held.
I visited the principal cellars, and have attempted to describe a few of the best known kinds. For above a week I lived at Vôsne, within half an hour's walk of the most celebrated vineyards in Burgundy ; and I cannot refrain from remarking that, however agreeable the house of an Englishman may be, there is in that of a French gentleman a freedom from ceremony, an ease, and a charm, that are not easily forgotten. If English travellers could pass some of their time in the domestic circles of French families, they would form .an impression very different from that produced by coming in contact solely with those whose politeness is mercenary. Several of the vineyards belong to the gentleman I was visiting, and from him I learned the most minute details connected with them ; but it would be tiresome and uninteresting to give more than a general outline of their capabilities.
At Nuits, fifteen miles south of Dijon, are large cellars of wine, in which may be found all the kinds of the district. Vôsne is a village two miles from Nuits, and close to it are Romanée-Conti, Romanée La Tache, Grande Rue, Richebourg, and about a mile from those, is Clos-Vougeot, and a little farther off, near Dijon, is Chambertin. A goodly array of names! Except Clos-Vougeột and Chambertin, not one of these yields on an average above 70 hogsheads, and Romanée-Conti seldom produces more than 12.
I could not remark any difference of flavour while eating the grapes, but was assured that those accustomed to taste the wine, can immediately decide from which vineyard it has been made. The vines are old and of the best kinds : Romanée, Richebourg, La Tache, and Grande Rue (the latter across the road), appear to have an equally favourable aspect; but with all these apparent resemblances, there may be a stratum of soil which causes the difference perceptible to experienced local tasters. The palate, like the eye, the ear, or touch, acquires by practice various degrees of sensitiveness that would be incredible, were it not a well-ascertained fact. For instance, those who devote attention to it, can tell whether a salmon is Irish or Scotch, and others can distinguish those taken from different rivers. Anyone who has eaten a grouse from the southern parts of Scotland, can perceive how different the taste and flavour are from one from the Ilighlands, fed entirely upon the heather-berry. It is related of the Roman epicures in the time of Lucullus that they could decide whether an oyster was from the Lucrine Lake, or from Natolia.
These vineyards possess to the fullest extent the
characteristics of the highest class of red burgundy, which are a brilliant deep colour, delicious aroma, full rich body, great softness and delicacy.
The Clos-Vougeôt is a large vineyard surrounded by a wall, and is so celebrated, that when a French regiment marches past, it halts and presents arms. It is much overrated, for, although the upper part, on the acclivity, produces wine such as none other surpasses, still the declivity is not at all equal to it; and the lowest part is no better than many other vineyards in the neighbourhood. Such well caredfor vineyards will produce the best wines, even in the most unfavourable seasons; but like Château Lafitte of 1858, worth 701. or 801., and in 1860, only 5l. per hogshead, so Clos-Vougeốt may be worth 701. or 801. one year, and dear at 5l. the next. The average produce of Clos-Vougcôt is about 500 hogsheads.
Another vineyard of justly high reputation is Chambertin, not far from Clos-Vougeôt; it yields generally about 150 hogsheads, and in a good year has a remarkably fine flavour. As those names are known throughout the world, it may well be imagined how rarely they can be obtained in a genuine state. But, besides these, there are many that should satisfy even very fastidious connoisseurs; and, for my own part, I think some of them are more agreeable than the celebrated growths, such as the La Tache, or Richebourg, which are really too “grand,' and require many years' keeping in wood and in bottle before they are fit for use.
Anyone ought to be satisfied with good Pommard, Volnay, or Musigny, or with other kinds even inferior to them, but excellent in themselves, and having, like all wines from this district, a peculiarly high bouquet.
In the Yonne, the first-class qualities are, the Vin de Tonnerre, the Olivottes and others; and in the Saône-et-Loire, there are the capital Moulin-à-vent, the Torins, &c. and the white Pouilly, and Fuissé. I retain a very favourable impression of the Moulinà-vent, from having found it several times very excellent at Véfour's, in Paris.
The gentleman with whom I was staying, in the most handsome and liberal way, afterwards introduced me to the principal wine-broker in Nuits, requesting him to accompany me to other cellars, to enable me to form a comparison of their qualities and prices.
If it injures the sale of burgundies I shall be very sorry, but it is my duty as a faithful historian to relate that a very usual way of procuring juice from the grapes in this district is by men who step into the vats, ‘in puris naturalibus;' words which I am unable to translate, not having a Latin dictionary by me. I rather think, however, that the meaning may
. be gathered from what lately occurred to a friend, who, when opening a door, in another department of France, was alarmed by loud screams in a female voice:– N'entrez pas, n'entrez pas, je suis en sauvage.'
Were the statements contained in many books (and