My wine career is 3 years young and I’ve learned about many wine regions. But Burgundy remained a mystery until I selected a wine for my daughter’s wedding.
My search began with tasting events offered by wine distributors and I’ve tasted SOOO many wines. But I couldn’t find a wine for the newly-weds who wanted New World fruitiness with subtle Old World earthiness (terroir), and most importantly, affordable. This was a tough assignment for any WineGuy!
Then David Bowler of Bowler Wines (NY/NJ distributor) recommended a red Burgundy (Pinot Noir) from Maranges appellation. I was unfamiliar with this name so I learned about Burgundy. Now I don’t profess to be an Burgundy expert but I have some facts that might be helpful. If you’re interested in Burgundy basics, continue reading.
Let’s start with my basic premise – why aren’t we familiar with Burgundy wines?
1. We know that Burgundy is wine-producing province in France but we don’t know what the wine is.
It’s simple: RED BURGUNDY = PINOT NOIR and WHITE BURGUNDY = CHARDONNAY
2. Burgundy wines are expensive.
Burgundy Grand Crus (great growth in French) are insanely expensive! Romanée-Conti Grand Cru is the most expensive wine at over $13,000! Yep, $13k for one bottle and 8 of 10 most expensive wines are Burgundy wines. But not all Burgundies are expensive and many are affordable – only 2% are Grand Crus.
3. Bottle labels are confusing and difficult to understand.
Burgundy is a patchworks of vineyards in over 100 appellations. Furthermore, most vineyards have multiple owners because French law requires land divided among all children when estates transfer.
4. Bordeaux gets more publicity.
Bordeaux and Burgundy regions produce the world’s greatest wines though Bordeaux produces 4 times the quantity of Burgundy. Bordeaux is “old money” chateaux operating as corporations with budgets for multi-national advertising. Whereas Burgundy is family-operated wineries and négociants (agents) having many small vineyards.
HOW TO BUY BURGUNDY:
The order of Burgundy wine classifications is (1) Grand Cru, (2) Premier (1er) Cru, (3) Village, (4) Regional. Try to purchase affordable Premier Crus. “1er Cru” appears on label .
Pinot Noir Premier Cru from Givry appellation in Côte Chalonnaise $22
Chardonnay Premier Cru from Montagny appellation in Côte Chalonnaise $29
The best value is Village wines. These vineyards can be right next to classified grand cru or 1er cru vineyards. Village wine labels will include the village name after the appellation.
Pinot Noir from Maranges appellation in Côte de Beaune $24
DID YOU KNOW? Premier Cru (first growth) is the highest classification of wines in Bordeaux vs. Grand Cru in Burgundy.
Cheers, Bob the WineGuy
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