Daily dilemmas: Bordeaux or Burgundy – what French wine should you drink?

Daily dilemmas: Bordeaux or Burgundy - what French wine should you drink?
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It's a debate as old as time (almost) but which French wine is better - Bordeaux or Burgundy?

The serious wine connoisseurs have written books on this subject exploring the history, the chemical composition, the quality of the different grapes and the soil they grow in and what impact that has on the products from these two venerable wine-growing regions.

We took the simpler route and asked readers of The Local which they preferred, and the result was a smashing victory for Bordeaux.

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On Facebook 61 percent of our readers preferred Bordeaux.

 

While on Twitter 60 percent of people preferred Bordeaux.

 

So what is the difference between the two?

Wine has been made around the south west France city of Bordeaux since Roman times and today about 700 million bottles are produced a year, from basic vin de table to high quality and high priced vintages. It is the largest wine growing area in France with about 120,000 hectares devoted to vineyards.

Some of the appellation areas in the Bordeaux region include Lower Medoc, Haut-Médoc, St-Estèphe, Pauillac, St-Julien, Central Médoc, Margaux, Southern Médoc, Grave, Sauternes and Barsac.

Burgundy wines are those produced in the eastern French region of Burgundy or Bourgogne. Smaller than the Bordeaux region it can lay claim to having an even older wine tradition, as there is evidence of pre-Roman Celtic vineyards.

There are 100 appellations in Burgundy,  divided in to Bourgogne, Village, Premier Cru and Grand Cru.

Unlike the more generally warm southern climate in Bordeaux, Burgundy experiences much more unpredictable weather with cold winters, hot summers and storms, which means that the quality of wines produced can vary widely.

The red wines of Bordeaux are typically a blend of two or more of five grapes: cabernet savignon, merlot, cabernet franc, malbec and petit verdot while a red burgundy is always a pinot noir grape.

Both regions produce red, white and rosé wines but both are generally best know for their reds with the Burgundy reds in general being heavier than a Bordeaux.

But maybe the real difference is in who drinks them?

Wine blog vinepair.com divides Bordeaux and Burgundy lovers into two cliques.

Bordeaux drinkers are “sleek, preppy-chic, sporting Lacoste polos and sippin’ on Chateau Haut-Brion” while the Burgundy lovers are apparently “poet-hipsters with dirt in their fingernails, sporting a Johnny Depp kind of weathered cool with maybe, just maybe, a slight chip on their shoulders”.

Or perhaps its the personality of the wines themselves?

Wine writer Jasper Morris in his book Inside Burgundy declares that: “Burgundy is for those who want to be intrigued by wine, not offered certainty in a glass.”

While French novelist François Mauriac insists: “For me, the superiority of Bordeaux comes from its naturalness: it is born of my earth, of my sun, and of the attentive love that my people devote to it. The primary virtue of Bordeaux is honesty.”

But whether it's Burgundy or Bordeaux – mixing it with lemonade it always frowned upon.


Member comments

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  1. The difference, duh, is that Bordeaux is mostly cabernet and merlot, and sauvignon franc(?), that is, heavier wines for the reds.

    Burgundy red is exclusively pinot noir, a lighter wine.

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