Terroir 2014 banner
IVES 9 IVES Conference Series 9 Feminin vs masculin: the sensorial opposition between chambolle-musigny and gevrey-chambertin wines and the socioeconomical construction of a terroir/taste wine paradigm

Feminin vs masculin: the sensorial opposition between chambolle-musigny and gevrey-chambertin wines and the socioeconomical construction of a terroir/taste wine paradigm


At least since de XIXth century, wine writers oppose quite often the wines from Gevrey-Chambertin to the wines from Chambolle-Musigny claiming that the former are more “masculine” (full-bodied, powerful tannins, leathery, rustic…) and the later more “feminine” (delicate, elegant, silky, flowery…). It is generally accepted that these sensory differences are the consequence of terroir differences between these two appellations. Our study, combining sensory sciences, psychology and history, aimed to check whether the above mentioned lexical dichotomy was nowadays likely to be found in the taste of the wines of these two appellations. In order to answer these questions 4 wines from Chambolle-Musigny and 4 wines from Gevrey-Chambertin was submitted to two sensory tasks. A panel of oenophiles performed first a blind sensory profile using a number of attributes related to the masculine or feminine character of the tannins.

The results of the sensory profile showed that the samples were not segmented by appellation and that the masculine/feminine character was not correlated with the appellation either. The panelists were then asked to categorize them into two groups explicitly named “Chambolle-Musigny” and “Gevrey-Chambertin”. We hypothesized that the feminine/masculine character of the wines would help the tasters to correctly categorize the wines. The results showed that only one of the samples was correctly categorized. Three explanations are plausible: our tasters do not have a precise idea of what is the taste of a Chambolle or a Gevrey wine; most of our samples were not representative of their respective appellations; the dichotomy Chambolle/feminine vs Gevrey/masculine do not have a sensory reality nowadays despite the fact that our panelist declare in a short questionnaire that they believe in the masculine vs feminine lexical dichotomy. In order to better understand our results we conducted a historical study on the construction of Burgundy appellations and the mental representation of those appellations that wine consumers have during XIXth et XXth century.

This study showed that the evolution of wine production and trade norms during the XIXth resulted in a marketing and cultural creation of those two different sensory identities by wine prescribers (wine producers, wine writers, INAO). The subsequent birth and development of French appellations will promote and, in finally, anchor, the idea between the terroir and the taste of the wine, of which Gevrey and Chambolle became one of the most salient examples.


Publication date: August 18, 2020

Issue: Terroir 2014

Type: Article


Jordi BALLESTER (1), Olivier JACQUET (2)

(1) Centre des Sciences du Goût et de l´Alimentation, UMR6265 CNRS – Inra-UD, 9E Boulevard Jeanne d´Arc, 21000 Dijon, France, Chaire UNESCO « Culture et Traditions du Vin » de l’Université de Bourgogne.
(2) IUVV Jules Guyot, Université de Bourgogne, 1 rue Claude Ladrey, 21078 Dijon, Chaire UNESCO « Culture et Traditions du Vin » de l’Université de Bourgogne

Contact the author


terroir, Gevrey-Chambertin, Chambolle-Musigny, sensory analysis, history masculine, feminine


IVES Conference Series | Terroir 2014


Related articles…

Physiological and growth reaction of Shiraz/101-14 Mgt to row orientation and soil water status

Advanced knowledge on grapevine row orientation is required to improve establishment, management and outcomes of vineyards on terroirs with different environmental conditions (climate, soil, topography) and in view of a future change to more extreme climatic conditions. The purpose of this study was to determine the combined effect of row orientation, plant water status and ripeness level on the physiological and viticultural reaction of Shiraz/101-14 Mgt.

Effects of mechanical leafing and deficit irrigation on Cabernet Sauvignon grown in warm climate of California

San Joaquin Valley accounts for 40% of wine grape acreage and produces 70% of wine grape in California. Fruit quality is one of most important factors which impact the economical sustainability of farming wine grapes in this region. Due to the recent drought and expected labor cost increase, the wine industry is thrilled to understand how to improve fruit quality while maintaining the yield with less water and labor input. The present study aims to study the interactive effects of mechanical leafing and deficit irrigation on yield and berry compositions of Cabernet Sauvignon grown in warm climate of California.

The effects of cane girdling on berry texture properties and the concentration of some aroma compounds in three table grape cultivars

The marketability of the table grapes is highly influenced by the consumer demand; therefore the market value of the table grapes is mainly characterized by its berry size, colour, taste and texture. Girdling could cause accumulation of several components in plants above the ringing of the phloem including clusters and resulting improved maturity. The aim of the experiments was to examine the effect of girdling on berry texture characteristics and aroma concentration.

Application of a fluorescence-based method to evaluate the ripening process and quality of Pinot Blanc grape

The chemical composition of grape berries at harvest is one of the most important factors that should be considered to produce high quality wines. Among the different chemical classes which characterize the grape juice, the polyphenolic compound, such as flavonoids, contribute to the final taste and color of wines. Recently, an innovative non-destructive method, based on chlorophyll fluorescence, was developed to estimate the phenolic maturity of red grape varieties through the evaluation of anthocyanins accumulated in the berry skin. To date, only few data are available about the application of this method on white grape varieties.

Different yield regulation strategies in semi-minimal-pruned hedge (SMPH) and impact on bunch architecture

Yields in the novel viticulture training system Semi-Minimal-Pruned Hedge (SMPH) are generally higher compared to the traditional Vertical Shoot Positioning (VSP). Excessive yields have a negative impact on the vine and wine quality, which can result in substantial losses in yield in subsequent vintages (alternate bearing) or penalties in fruit quality. Therefore yield regulation is essential. The bunch architecture in SMPH differs from VSP. Generally there is a higher amount but smaller bunches with lower single berry weights in SMPH compared to VSP.