Two hundred million years ago a tropical sea covered the area now known as Burgundy. Tiny animals and shell fish were the inhabitants and their bodies sank to the sea bed creating layers upon layers of sediment and eventually chalky deposits and limestone layers interspersed with layers of silt and dirt. As time moved forward about 30 million years ago the sea retreated and upheavals in the earth’s crust formed the Alps and also the much smaller hills of the Côte d’ Or. About 20 thousand years ago an ice age began lasting about 10 thousand years. The glacial ice pushed the land into valleys and hills and an upheaval continued in Burgundy. The layers of sediment and crustaceous limestone were turned upright with the edges of the layers comprising the newly formed earth crust. Picture a stack of plates on a table that are lifted up and turned until the edges faced up. The edges of the plates are the crustaceous and lime deposits and the space in between is sediment
The land we know as Burgundy warmed and became a giant forest near the town of Beaune. Imagine a bunny rabbit making her quick way along a path on the lookout for fox and other predators. The bunny, like the forest creatures before her, had made a path on the sedimentary layers, eschewing the rocky and sharp coral-like limestone. The track started by the rabbit and enlarged by other animals was later expanded by Roman Legions who trampled the path and made a road giving access to the forest for lumber removal and eventually the creation of vineyards. The planting in these new vineyards was difficult as the soil was rocky and inhospitable for agriculture. Grapes were not grown on the dirt trails that became lanes adjacent to the vineyards. But the vines were hearty and grew and the yield was a grape of distinctive flavor. It was eventually discovered that grapes grown on vines that were stressed, that had to work to produce their fruit, produced wine of exceptional quality.