John Heathcote

The Wines of Burgundy and Bordeaux

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Wine was produced in Burgundy and Bordeaux by the Romans and almost certainly by the Celts before them.

From the time of the Last Supper, where wine represented the blood of Christ, wine has been of symbolic importance to Christians. Not surprisingly, following the founding of the great abbeys of Cluny (910) and Cîteaux (1098) in Burgundy, the monks became skilled in viniculture and cultivated large vineyards to produce wine for the celebration of the Eucharist and also to add a little cheer to their austere way of life. Their vineyards were eventually sequestered by the State and sold off, but they can still trace their origins back to the church and earlier Roman times.

The history of medieval Bordeaux wine is quite different as when Henry II, the first Plantagenet King of England was crowned in 1154, the Bordeaux wine producing area of Gascony came under the control of the English Crown through Henry’s wife, Eleanor of Aquitaine. A major export market to England followed for Bordeaux wine which was known as ‘claret’ and still is to the present day. This resulted in the extensive foreign investment in Bordeaux vineyards which still continues.

In modern times excellent wines are produced throughout the world at affordable prices, particularly from the so-called ‘new world’ countries of Chile, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand. These wines, understandably, have their dedicated followers. However, all lovers of fine wines almost certainly recognise the pre-eminence of Burgundy and Bordeaux in the world of fine wine and at least an outline knowledge of these great wine regions would seem to be desirable for all lovers of fine wine.
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