Final Part of the Burgundy series
I have always been told in Asia that Pinot Noir goes well with duck and this is the dish Pinot Noir is being served with in France. I do not know where that started from but throughout my stay in Burgundy, searching for a duck dish in Burgundy is like looking for a needle in a haystack.
Duck is not typical in Burgundy and is actually found more down south. Still, that does not mean you duck and a burgundy red will not complement each other as it also depends on the sauce used.
The diet of Burgundy is usually creamy cheeses and pork. Boudin is a park sausage that comes in the white or black (from pig’s blood) form which I find lovely with Pinot Noir.
Their cheeses are just lovely with the vibrant acidity of the whites and the softer tannins of the reds. Some Pinot Noirs tend to do very well with gamey dishes or with earthy, mushroom dishes.
Chablis and oysters are a perfect match but with the complexity and oakiness of Grand Cru Chablis, I would avoid oysters and the delicate flavours of both food and wine will be destroyed. Grand Cru and 1er Cru Chablis do better with complex creamy soups with ingredients such as saffron or even savoury soups cooked with prawn shells.
Burgundy whites are slightly difficult to pair with food especially if they have seen oaked but something with a heavy buttery and creamy sauce would be lovely with it.
To simplify things, besides relying on the general flavor profile of each commune which I have listed, it would also be wise to look at the weight of each wine and decide if it can match the weight of the dishes.
When I say weight, I refer to the feel of the wine on the palate and not the density of flavours which is another thing. This is usually quite difficult to decide unless you have tasted the wine as the weight of each wine from the same commune can vary according to producer.
However, most of the time, I find certain communes tend to be heavier in weight than others. In general, the heavy weight communes are Gevrey-Chambertin and Pommard while the less heavy weights are Aloxe-Corton, Volnay, Chambolle Musigny and Vosne-Romanée.
Should Burgundy whites and reds be served in big bowl glassware? To be honest, most of my best experiences came not from the big bowls but from glasses with a narrow mouth and the distance of the wine to my nose is enough for me to swirl the wine without spilling it (ISO glassware fits that description).
I have heard reasons why the big bowls are designed for burgundy. For the whites, it is so that the oak aromas are not concentrated too much. For the reds, it is to allow the wines to evolve with the oxygen due to a bigger surface area.
The problem I found with the big bowl concept was that Burgundy wines which I have tasted were sometimes subtle in fruit and more focused on complex aromas such as undergrowth and flowers. The big bowl tends to not concentrate aromas as well as I would like them to and gave me results that were not appealing.
I found forceful wines did well with the big bowls but average burgundies failed in comparison. I had more consistent results from the ISO glasses regardless of the quality of the Burgundy wines in terms of perceivable aromas. From smelling over a forty samples of whites, it is less common to get Chardonnay that is over-oaked from Burgundy these days.
I also think the whole concept of have a wide bowl to get Burgundy reds to change in the glass from oxygenation a tad ridiculous. From several trails with burgundy reds, most of Grand Cru and Premier Cru wines do evolve but it took 9 hours or even more before perceptible change was seen on the nose and on the palate. These wines had to be decanted. If you are prepared to stay 12 hours at a tasting with your big bowl, you could possibly see these changes. I do not know anyone who is prepared to go that distance unless one carries the bowl home with him or her.
As for serving temperatures, I suggest that most burgundy reds and 1er/Grand Cru whites be served at temperatures between 14-16 degrees Celsius and this can go lower for village and simple reds like Mercury or Rully. Chablis village, Chablis 1er Cru, Aligoté and flinty, light versions of Meursault can be served at between 11-14 degrees to retain that freshness.
The basic rule for me is that with wines that have more oak or more tannin in them, you try to keep an average of 14 degrees Celsius because as it becomes colder, that bitterness from oak and tannins become more perceptible.