It’s back to pinot this week, with a European original with a name that is so common that most wine lovers don’t realize that it’s home to some of the world’s greatest—and most expensive—wines, both red and white.
Try a new wine this week!
France’s Burgundy region is home to some of the world’s greatest, and most expensive wines—both white and red. Some of Burgundy’s vineyards date back at least 2,000 years. Around 150 years ago Burgundian pinot noir and chardonnay vines, along with vines from other regions and varieties, where taken to California and other parts of the New World.
So when somebody says the word ‘Burgundy,’ the experienced wine lover will assume they mean the region in east central France between Dijon (which actually is the mustard capital), and Lyon. A less experienced person will think of box wines or jug wines.
Most French wines are named for where the grapes were grown and the type of grape is rarely listed. That’s because the place names are controlled, and can be used on the label only if the wine is made from the traditional varieties that made the town or vineyard famous in the first place. Burgundy’s red wines by law are made from pinot noir , with the exception of the Beaujolais sub-region at the southern tip of Burgundy. They’re made from Gamay grapes.
Since the French speak French, they don’t spell Burgundy the way we do. The French word for this region is “Bourgogne,” pronounced “boor GO nyuh”. It’s sort of like the Italians saying Firenze instead of Florence.
The best Burgundian vineyards are on the Grand Cru list, and their wine labels bear only the name of the vineyard. The second best are on the Premier Cru list, and the name of the closest village appears on the label with the vineyard name. If grapes from more than one vineyard are blended together, the words “Premier Cru” appear with the village name.
Burgundy is a small place with expensive wines, but you can taste the telltale elegant earthiness—or perhaps earthy elegance—of its pinot noirs with Louis Jadot Pinot Noir Bourgogne, blended from up and down the region. Jadot has long been one of Burgundy’s premier producers. It retails for around $20. Louis Jadot Bourgogne Pinot Noir will show you Burgundy’s elegance and “gout de terrior” or “taste of the earth.”