It snowed a bit yesterday in Burgundy. No, nothing like today’s storm in New England (particularly Harpswell, ME): three feet of snow blanketing the Côte d’Or is on nobody’s wishlist (except perhaps the vignerons of Bordeaux). It was just a dusting, but enough to light up the Instagram feeds of our French colleagues.
We Americans are notorious for our exhausting work habits. With internet connections everywhere, and nearly a quarter of paid vacation days unused, unplugging from work is harder than ever. But sometimes Mother Nature, oblivious to due dates and deadlines, suggests a pause more convincingly than any spring break or three-day weekend.
In Burgundy, it’s important to know your geography. Tiny changes in location can have drastic effects on the wine in the bottle. But because almost all vineyards are divided among several growers, it’s even more important to know your winemaker.
For about a thousand years, between the 5th and 15th centuries AD, French monks dominated the world of wine. Their wines, originally made for use in Mass, grew steadily in quality with every generation, and gained renown across the European continent. It was the monks, tasting the products of the rich Burgundian soils (and often the soils themselves), that first developed the idea of terroir.
The last time the Euro-Dollar exchange rate was this low, Facebook had about 15 users, and half the Ansonia team couldn’t legally drink. We don’t claim to know where Euro is headed, but for the moment we’re just glad we don’t specializing in Swiss wine. (See the current Futures for more exchange-rate proof.)
The towns of Pommard and Volnay are giants of the Côte de Beaune reds. Though less than a mile apart, the two towns represent opposing profiles – Volnay tending toward elegant and feminine, and Pommard toward sturdy and masculine. As neighbors they provide an excellent example of the microterroirs of Burgundy.
For most wine drinkers, French Sauvignon Blanc is synonymous with the Loire Valley. Most famously grown in the neighboring towns of Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé, Sauvignon Blanc (known just as “Sauvignon” in France) offers a classic blend of grapefruit and gunflint. It’s delicious wine, and perfect for a slice of aged goat cheese or a bowl of moules marinieres. But the Loire isn’t the only source for great Sauvignon, and recently we’ve been enjoying some of the drier, more savory examples from Bordeaux.
Some occasions call for magnificent wines. During last month’s holiday season we wrote about several of our favorites — wines to be stored for years and then remembered for longer. But other occasions call for wines without pretense — a chilly winter mid-week evening with soup on the table and Homeland on the tube.
The idea for Ansonia Wines emerged from a year in the French countryside in 1998. We rented a farmhouse outside Cluny, a large town in the heart of the Maconnais, a picturesque region so classically French that it is known to the French as la France profonde (literally “deep France”).
We don’t often post about dessert wines. Though sweet German Rieslings can be stunningly good, and Gewurztraminer paired with real Munster or Roquefort is divine, there just isn’t much market for sweet wines in the US. But there is one dessert wine we couldn’t live without: Sauternes.