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About Burgundy 

  Read about the The History of Burgundy below.

'Wine & Cheese' - A painting by Jenny Muncaster. Click image for more details on Jenny Muncaster.

Paintings By Jenny Muncaster

'The Century's Finest Vintage' - a painting by Jenny Muncaster. Click image for more details on Jenny Muncaster.

Burgundy has a history going back over 2,000 years and it was a Sketch by Margot Carter
powerful independent state long before France became one Kingdom. The ancient capital of the Dukedom of Burgundy is Dijon and the pre-revolutionary influences of the Dukes and the Church are still plainly visible throughout the region. Wines have been grown here since at least Roman times and the Appellation system, when it was introduced, largely respected the knowledge and understanding built up by many, many preceding generations, in arriving at the famous wines we know today. Indeed, some of the names, such as Corton-Charlemagne originate in the early Middle Ages. We tend to know this period as the Dark Ages, which has rather sinister connotations, yet I believe that it is known by this name largely because we have never managed to shed much light on it. Such accounts as do exist seem to show that people then led quite an elegant existence on the odd occasions when they were not raising armies to try to knock seven bells out of each other.

Sketch by Margot Carter
It is not unusual to pass through villages that have dominating fortified houses or chateaux dating from the 12th to 15th Centuries and to learn from the locals that the house was built on the foundations of an earlier building. You will also often find that the cellars of even quite modest houses pre-date by centuries the current house. Aside from these everyday dwellings, there are the major structures such as the Abbey of Cluny, the Chateau of Vougeot (with the Grand Cru Clos Vougeot alongside, sorry wine tends to get everywhere, it seems unavoidable) and the Hospices de Beaune. The Hospices was possibly the earliest example of a community hospital in Europe. It was built by a leading aristocratic family and continued in its role as a hospital until quite recently. Today they have built a replacement hospital nearby in Beaune and the splendid original building which sits facing the market square in the centre of Beaune, is now a tourist attraction and hosts the annual Hospices Wine Auction each November. The wines sold at this auction come from parcels of vines that have been gifted to the Hospices over the centuries and this endowment continues to help to fund the running costs of the hospital.

Sketch by Margot Carter
Huge changes swept through the region after the 1789 revolution. This turbulent period in French history was somewhat akin to Henry V111's Reformation and the Civil War rolled into one. Certainly many aristocrats got the chop, but the Church too found itself dispossessed of much of its land. The beneficiaries of this asset-stripping exercise were not the peasants as one might have assumed but, unsurprisingly, those who were affluent enough to buy up these "nationalised" assets. With the break-up of the big estates complete, it was Napoleon who then went a stage further. He dictated how family assets would pass between the generations, thus ensuring the gradual fragmentation of the landholdings and of course, the vineyards. I am sorry, I keep coming back to wine and this is supposed to be general info. I will try harder!


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