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Passe the Toutgrain, Please!

Passe the Toutgrain, Please!

by Chris Santini by Chris Santini

2020 Bourgogne Passetoutgrain

2020 Bourgogne Passetoutgrain

Robert Chevillon   

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Robert Chevillon    France   |  Burgundy   |  Bourgogne

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Ah, the great terroirs of Gamay: Morgon! Moulin-à-Vent! Nuits-Saint-Georges??? Believe it or not, Gamay has been grown around the Côte d’Or for centuries and served a much greater historical purpose than cheap juice for the harvest pickers. Traditionally made Burgundian Pinot Noir, especially in the colder pre–global warming years of yore, took several years to unwind and shed its tannin and austerity. Gamay gave the growers something young and bright to drink in the meantime. Passetoutgrain, a word based on old local patois and generally meaning “toss it all in,” is an archaic and rapidly disappearing local appellation for field blends of Gamay and Pinot Noir that are harvested and cofermented together. The Chevillons, world renowned for their muscular and powerful Nuits-Saint-Georges, show a softer side here. Fresh and smooth Gamay/Pinot blend from the slopes of Nuits-Saint-Georges—that’s not a phrase you hear every day. Pass the peas and passe the toutgrain, please!

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About The Region

Burgundy

map of Burgundy

In eastern central France, Burgundy is nestled between the wine regions of Champagne to the north, the Jura to the east, the Loire to the west, and the Rhône to the south. This is the terroir par excellence for producing world-class Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.

The southeast-facing hillside between Dijon in the north and Maranges in the south is known as the Côte d’Or or “golden slope.” The Côte d’Or comprises two main sections, both composed of limestone and clay soils: the Côte de Nuits in the northern sector, and the Côte de Beaune in the south. Both areas produce magnificent whites and reds, although the Côte de Beaune produces more white wine and the Côte de Nuits more red.

Chablis is Burgundy’s northern outpost, known for its flinty and age-worthy Chardonnays planted in Kimmeridgian limestone on an ancient seabed. Vézelay is a smaller area south of Chablis with similar qualities, although the limestone there is not Kimmeridgian.

To the south of the Côte de Beaune, the Côte Chalonnaise extends from Chagny on its northern end, down past Chalon-sur-Saône and encompasses the appellations of Bouzeron in the north, followed by Rully, Mercurey, Givry, and Montagny.

Directly south of the Chalonnaise begins the Côte Mâconnais, which extends south past Mâcon to the hamlets of Fuissé, Vinzelles, Chaintré, and Saint-Véran. The Mâconnais is prime Chardonnay country and contains an incredible diversity of soils.

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