Complications of French wines

Mar 16 22:03 2020 Print This Article

Photo: Burgundy's Laurent Drouhin

“C’est compliqué!”

With that phrase, wine writer and co-moderator Jon Bonné set the theme for the plenary session on French wine at the 2020 Vancouver International Wine Festival.

“It is complicated,” he repeated for his unilingual listeners. That is not to reflect negatively on French wines, which Bonné believes are still the greatest in the world. It is just that winegrowing in what is now France began about 600 BC. Complication is inevitable with that much history.

For example, when Laurent Drouhin from Maison Joseph Drouhin in Burgundy speaks of climat, he does not mean climate. A climat in Burgundy is a vineyard. There are thousands, each very likely with an individual terroir. 

Terroir is another complicated concept originating with the French. It is a definition of all the elements, ranging from soil to climate, that govern the character of individual wines. Note how the term was used by Châteauneuf producer Bernard Duseigneur. “My approach is mainly a terroir approach,” he said. “The identity I am looking for in a wine comes first from the soil because we have different terroirs. We have all the soil types and they give different wines using the same grapes.”

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About Article Author

John Schreiner on Wine

John Schreiner is Canada's most prolific writer of books on wine. Since his first book in 1984, The World of Canadian Wine, he has written 15, including multiple editions of The Wineries of British Columba, British Columbia Wine Country and John Schreiner's Okanagan Wine Tour Guide.

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