As many wine aficionados soon learn, Burgundy wine is made in a special region of France. In France, this region is called “La Bourgogne,” translated in English to Burgundy.
Burgundy: The Best of Dry French Wines
Many wine experts agree that the finest grapes for dry red and white wines are harvested in Burgundy.
Wines from Burgundy receive appellations based on the specific type of vineyard in which the grapes were grown. Appellations include:
- individual vineyard
- region vineyard
- village vineyard.
Surprisingly, some of the best grapes are harvested from tiny vineyards.
Red and White Vintage Wines
In Burgundy, red wines are made with the use of Pinot Noir grapes. However, in the southern portions of Burgundy, like in the areas of Beaujolais and Macon, the Gamay grape is utilized. If you enjoy a fruitier taste in your wine, then you may wish to consider a Burgundy made with Gamay grapes.
The Chardonnay grape is harvested to create the Burgundy region”s noble white wine. Renowned for its use in sparkling wines, the Chardonnay grape also makes a superior white wine.
For more common, table white wines, the Burgundy region uses the Pinot Blanc and Aligote grapes.
Burgundy Wine Ratings
Based on the weather conditions during the grapes” growing season, vintage wine ratings for the Burgundy region may vary from year to year, even though the region is renowned for consistently good wines.
Below is a list of some of the most highly rated wine-growers in the Burgundy region. The list runs in descending order, with the best-rated vintners and regions at the top:
- Grand Crus: The vineyards in this area produce consistently top-notch wines. For example, wine labels such as Bonnes-Mares, Clos de Vougeot and Montrachet come from Grand Crus.
- Premiers Crus: The vineyards in this area also produce excellent wines. For example, wine labels such as Chambolle-Musigny, ”Les Amoureuses” or Volnay ”Ronceret” come from Premiers Crus.
- Commune or Village: This appellation is a larger area and has a big quantity of vineyards within its parameters. On the wine labels, the names of towns or villages will be printed, along with “appellation controlee.” Labels from this area include Meursault, Puligny-Montrachet and Volnay.
- Regional: This “appellation controlee” services a much larger area than that of the commune or village vineyards. There are literally several towns housed in this regional area. On wine labels, names such as Cote du Beaune, Beaujolais and Cote de Nuits may be recognized, along with the “appellation controlee” information.
- Bourgogne Appellation: The grapes harvested in this section come from all over Burgundy. On wine labels, you may read Bourgogne Blanc or Bourgogne Rouge. And once again “appellation controlee” will be designated on the label to ensure that grapes were grown in Burgundy.
Understanding Vintage Wine Charts
Reading vintage charts will give you information on how a Burgundy wine was rated during any given year. Typically, Burgundy regions are rated using a 10-point system.
The general rating scale is as follows:
- 10: Sensational
- 9: Very Fine
- 8: Above Average
- 7: Average
- 6: Below Average
- 5 and below: Not recommended
In addition to a numerical rating, Burgundy vintage charts will also provide information about when a bottle of wine should be corked. These guidelines are as follows:
- AS: Age Showing
- DW: Drinking Well
- ED: Early Days (Not Yet Tasted)
- HO: Hold, Slow to Mature
- RS: Ready Soon.
Where to Purchase Burgundy Wine
These days, high quality Burgundy wines are more widely available than ever; even some supermarkets carry a selection of fine Burgundy wines. Other ways to purchase wines from Burgundy include:
- becoming a wine club member
- buying from wine and spirits specialty stores
- buying wines online
- purchasing from tasting rooms.