February 23, 2009

It's Burgundy Week!

Burgundy is one of the most fascinating regions in France. While it breeds a culture of both art and living, its also best known for many of the world's most delectable wines. But for WinoBees, like myself, its often easy to become confused with the what-seems-like-millions-of-names of all the various regions, areas, chateus, et-cetera, et-cetera -- not just in France, but all over. So let's go ahead and break this down in the simplest terms possible...


When someone says they are "sipping a French Burgundy," what does that mean? Well, its simply a redundancy - Burgundy is a region in France, duh. As you travel further South, you'll pass through most of the wine growing areas including:

  •            Chablis
  •            Cote de Beaune
  •            Cote de Nuits
  •            Chalonais
  •            Maconais 
  •            Beaujolais (likely the most recognized)

What types of wine are predominant? Burgundy is most noted for its concentration of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay (exactly what we'll be reviewing this week). However, red and white wines from this region are also made from Gamay and Aligote grape varietal, they just aren't as common.

How do I know which wines are best? To reiterate, a WinoBee's mantra is all about subjectivity. A wine is only good, bad or indifferent dependent upon the personal palate of the consumer. However, when you're gawking at labels look for "Grand Cru" - its normally implicit of a higher price tag. Check the ratings scale below:

  • Grand Cru - these are the wines made from some of the best vineyards in the region and and they account for only 2% of the production in the region
  • Premiere Cru - still great quality, but not quite Grand Cru; makes up for 12% of the production
  • Village - made from a blend of wines, typically from less popular vineyards

And that pretty much sums up the region in a nutshell -- now, on for bigger and better... Burgundy Wines! Check back throughout the week for review of a variety of Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs of all price ranges!