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Burgundy Wines in The 18th century

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As written since 1775, the 'Description générale et particulière du Duché de Bourgogne' by Courtépée is giving, among others, a excellent description of the history of wine in Burgundy and of the 'crus' or 'climats' which were already renowned in his time. The 'crus' or 'climats' are small sets of vineyards, the uniqueness of which in terms of soil and solar exposition for example, produce a unique wine in terms of taste and qualities. Since the 11th century A.D., the classification of the terroirs of Burgundy was done upon the basis of geology. We left those terms along with the name of the crus and climats unchanged from the French. Celts of Gauls and from elsewhere, on the other hand, drank Italian wines as soon as before the Roman occupation, as they were especially imported from Tuscany through the Rhône, or the Saône rivers. That liking of Gauls about wine likely was at the origin of some Gallic raids against Rome! Gauls thus were much found of wine and indulged themselves completely into its culture under the Roman rule -with vines issued from Marseilles- to the point that emperor Domitian ordered by 92 A.D., a year when there was a wont of wheat, that half of the vineyards to be taken off and that no new one be planted. One came back to liberty under Probus, by 282 A.D. Wines of the time were aromatized with herbs, spices, or fruits and fortified with honey or even salt for conservation. Romans drank wine much added with water as pure wine was gods' prerogative -- the Gauls drinking it pure were considered barbarians. Barrels were a Gallic invention and wine ousted beer while worship of god Bacchus expanded in Burgundy. By the 6th century A.D., Burgundian vineyards already had reached such a fame that the wines there were compared to the best wines of Italy as one had ceased to import wines from Gaza and Palestine, which until then were providing for the extraordinary of good Roman tables since Pompeius. The relay, after the Barbaric Invasions, passed to monasteries. Wine was a sacred drink as the symbol of Christ's blood and abbeys and monasteries were endowed with lands by laymen as monks combined prayer and work. Benedictines in Burgundy, as they turned more and more Clunisiac, are the example of that and they possessed lands in the côte of Chalon or the Mâconnais not taking in account some domains more North like the Romané-St-Vivant or the vineyards of the abbey of Bèze. Wine was used for Eucharist and as the art of wine growing being improved by monks, surplus eventually were sold. Such a effort then when was carried on by Cistercians who hold domains from Chablis down to Chalon-sur-Saône through the côte de Nuits and de Beaune. It was monks of the Middle Ages generally, who defined the 'climats,' those tracts of land bearing a wine of special characteristics or the 'clos,' which are climats closed with stone walls, a typical Burgundian tradition, the walls of which hold back solar warmth or defend vineyards against game. Dukes of Burgundy kept that tradition as they owned their own 'clos' and presentend other sovereigns with their wines. Wines of Beaune participated at Reims into the anointment of King of France Philippe of Valois. French cities, outside Burgundy included, were offering barrels of Burgundy wines to dukes and kings at the occasion when those entered there. The abbeys of Cluny and Citeaux also provided with Burgundy wines the courts of popes in Avignon as Petrarchus assigns to that that cardinals did not show a great will to journey back to Rome, as there was not 'Beaune's wine' in Italy. Beaune wines were considered the first in Europe as it was celebrated, by the Renaissance, by Erasmus. A illness of Louis XIV, in 1680, had the court of France to give the preference to the wines of Burgundy over the wines of Champagne, which angered people from that province and triggered scholarly disputes over the benefits to health of both wines. Beaune's wine was offered to John Sobiesky, King of Poland as, by the end of the 17th century, it is said that such wines were drinken at the court of the king of Persia. Dutch vineyards at the Cape of Good Hope, in South Africa, came from Beaune as, by the 18th century, Philippe V, King of Spain is drinking wines from Burgundy only in Madrid. And the same for the northern kings and, partly, the papal court. Despite a law of 1395 by Philippe the Bold, Duke of Burgundy, which forbade a variety of vineyard, the 'gamay' like unfaithful, it developed to the point of replacing wheat on fields which favoured the latter

People from Beaune boast that them alone have the exclusive possession of the best wines of Burgundy. That seems historically justified as, since the Middle Ages, people took 'Beaune's wines' and 'Burgundy wines' for synonyms! The wines of Chambertin and Bèze, in Dijon's country however, along with those in Morey, Chambole, Vône and St-Georges in Nuits-St-Georges area justly can challenge that. Thus one may consider that three area in Dijon already, by the 18th century, are yielding quality wines. In names, the Dijon's coast, down to Chambertin, the Nuits' coast and the Beaune's country

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