One of the things that came up during Vine Talk’s tasting of wines from Burgundy was the difference between wines made in a modern style and wines made in a more traditional style. One of the reasons that the wine from Burgundy is so treasured the world over is because it is a wine that is steeped in tradition – often produced from vineyards that have been passed down through generations of the same family.
With the advent of modern winemaking techniques such as the introduction of mechanical harvesting and wine presses, commercial yeasts, and steel fermentation tanks, some winemakers in Burgundy have begun to balk at traditional methods. Adopting these new methods usually reduces the cost that the winemaker needs to pass onto the consumer – a boon for winemakers looking to grow an audience.
However, for many winemakers in Burgundy, the thought of replacing hand-selected grapes with those culled by machines or of replacing wild yeasts (that help to make up terroir) with commercial ones, is akin to treason. These winemakers would argue that although the price of the wine made using traditional methods is higher, so too is the quality.
At the end of the day, the tussle comes down to a matter of taste. Wine trends are constantly changing and many of the winemakers who have adopted modern techniques are making wines that reflect a modern style. These wines are bolder and often have big flavor and lots of fruit. However, there are still plenty of purists who live for the hand-crafted and traditionally styled Burgundy wines that scream of subtlety and elegance.
For information on the episode featuring wines of Burgundy, click Episode Guide: Picking Pinot Noirs from Burgundy.