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What Is Marc de Bourgogne?

Marc de Bourgogne is typically aged for up to 20 years in oak barrels.
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  • Written By: S. N. Smith
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 23 June 2014
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Marc de Bourgogne is a French spirit made from pressing the skins, pulp, and seeds that are left over after wine grapes are processed into wine. This pomace brandy, albeit one of the more polished versions, is not subtle in either its taste or the opinions it provokes. The opinion on this spirit, and marc in general, seems largely polarized between those tasters who consider it admirably potent and assertive, and those who consider it to be simply a well-aged, pedigreed hooch.

The same raw boldness and fiery afterburn that so put off some drinkers are precisely what make marc de Bourgogne so appealing to its many loyal fans. Among those fans are some willing to shell out the big bucks that particularly prized vintages command.

Marc — pronounced "mark" in English, "mahr" in French — is not bathtub-still swill, aficionados vehemently argue. In fact, marc de Bourgogne enjoys the distinction of an appellation. This means that certain components involved in the production of marc, such as viticulture, alcohol content, and production processes, are regulated by the French government to ensure that a spirit that travels under the designation of "marc" meets specified defining characteristics. Aged in oak barrels, this spirit develops a smooth and more mellow character than many other, less mature marcs and pomace brandies. In addition, careful attention is applied in blending mature marcs according to their origin and age.

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There are other marcs that lack the smoothness and refined character of the venerable Bourgogne, which is considered something of a gold standard for the type. These others may be consumed young and fiery. Some distillers do not remove the stalks of the wine grapes before distillation, a process referred to as destemming, which contributes a flavor that has been unflatteringly likened to straw.

For those who appreciate its unique qualities, marc de Bourgogne, and marc in general, is a concerted and appreciated effort to bring elegance and quality from what is, essentially, the discard pile. Pomace — skin, pips, and pulp — is the refuse left behind in the winepress after the juice has been pressed from the grapes. It is aged, typically in oak barrels, for a period of 12 to 20 years. Average Alcohol By Volume (ABV) is about 43%.

Marc de Bourgogne may be drunk straight, although it is popularly mixed with cassis or added to espresso. Similar pomace beverages in other countries include Italy's grappa, Germany's tresterbrand, Spain's orujo, and the tsipouro of Greece, among others.

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Discuss this Article

burcidi
Post 4

@simrin-- If you had the opportunity to taste Marc de Bourgogne, it means you are very lucky. Not only is this brandy very difficult to find these days, but it's also very expensive. I had the pleasure of having it only three times in the past, even though I have visited France about seven times in that time frame.

Marc de Bourgogne is not easily found even in France anymore. It's found in its home- Burgundy, but outside of it, it's quite rare. I don't know why but wine makers don't seem to be as interested in making Marc de Bourgogne as they used to be. Someone once told me that maybe thirty or forty bottles of the brandy are released every year. That's an extremely small number, which explains the high price tag.

Still, if you have the opportunity to have it again, don't pass up on it. It really is an excellent after-dinner drink.

fify
Post 3
@simrin-- Of course, that's how Marc de Bourgogne should be drunk since it is a brandy, also called "liquor" and "spirit." These are after-dinner drinks and they are not taken in large quantities. People will usually have Marc de Bourgogne warm at room temperature. Some people like it with ice or mixed with other drinks into a cocktail.

Because it's strong, it's also preferred by many chefs for desserts as a flavoring. Sorbet or ice cream flavored with Marc du Bourgogne is found in many parts of France. And in Burgundy, the spirit is used to make "├ępoisses" which is a very popular local cheese made from cow milk. The cheese is washed in salt water and then Marc du Bourgogne which gives it a really aromatic, spicy flavor. It's one of my favorite French cheeses.

SteamLouis
Post 2

Marc de Bourgogne is so strong! It's definitely one of the strongest wines I've tasted. I had the opportunity to taste some last week that was twenty years old. I'm not too good at describing wines. The best description I have for Marc de Bourgogne is that it is not sweet, but very strong.

The flavor is actually pretty rich, just not very fruity probably because it is made from grape leftovers. It's not really a wine that you can have with your dinner. It's better to have it in small amounts, to clear the palate after the meal or along with dessert. If I were to have Marc de Bourgogne with a meal, I don't think I would last until dessert!

anon230706
Post 1

Very good article. Well written and informative. Good job!

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