Françoise Vannier is a geologist who has studied and mapped the vineyards of Burgundy for multiple decades. She is based in France.
Françoise discusses how she began her study of the vineyards of the Côte d'Or, and the surprising results that emerged from her research. She touches on both broad themes and specific, individual instances in her analysis of the rock types and rock weathering in the Côte. For example, she explains how the Côte de Nuits differs from the Côte de Beaune in broad terms, and then gives examples from specific vineyards and villages that illustrate those divergences. She emphasizes the importance of the both the parallel and vertical faults that exist in the Cote d'Or, and explains how the vertical faults are often where combes have developed, which are breaks in the slope (like valleys). Françoise highlights the importance of these combes to understanding the rock distribution of the Côte d'Or. This then plays into her contention that village names are not as helpful as one might think for understanding the vineyards of the area, as it is the combes that are the actual markers of where the rock distribution changes in the Côte d'Or.
Françoise also emphasizes the difficulty and complexity of the topic of Côte d'Or geology, enunciating a number of nuances to the different rock types, and how they weather. She also points out that multiple rock types may be found within a single vineyard, as faults do not fall only at the borders of vineyards. Furthermore, the rock types do not nicely match up with the hierarchy of perceived quality of the vineyards, as the same type of rock may be found under both a villages vineyard and a Grand Cru. These realizations prompted Françoise to examine the historical, cultural, or climatic reasons why certain vineyards are in more esteem than others today, and she shares in this interview her thoughts on those subjects.
Françoise speaks about numerous areas of the Côte d'Or in some depth, including areas within the boundaries of Marsannay, Gevrey-Chambertin, Morey-Saint-Denis, Chambolle-Musigny, Pommard, and Meursault. She dispels common myths about the topic of Burgundy geology, and she gives examples of specific crus to illustrate many of her points. She also provides an examination of how human activity, in the form of quarries, house building, and clos (walled vineyard) construction has altered the Côte d'Or. Lastly, Françoise describes how the Côte d'Or differs from other areas of France which also feature calcium carbonate deposits, such as Champagne and St. Émilion.
Anyone who wishes to understand Burgundy better will benefit from listening to this episode multiple times.
This episode also features commentary from:
Brenna Quigley, geologist and vineyard consultant
Christophe Roumier, Domaine Georges Roumier