Being one of the two most renowned wine-making regions in France, Burgundy is small in its size but it produces some of the world’s finest wines. To get into the world of Burgundy wines, we must first remember the two grape varieties - Pinot Noir (mostly for Red) and Chardonnay (for White). Today, let’s find out what these two grape varieties have to do with Burgundy.
Image from internet
The classification of Burgundy wines can be confusing as there are so many villages, crus and domaines of which the names are sometimes randomly arranged on the wine labels. Let’s not go into anything difficult for now and take one step back to the grape varieties I mentioned earlier. In general, wines made from Pinot Noir are more acidic and delicate and less tannic compared to wines made from Cabernet Sauvignon. That being said, you can imagine Pinot Noir being an elegant and decent sweet lady in the world of wines. When talking about Pinot Noir, the village - Vosne Romanee has to be discussed in detail. It is where one of the most celebrated wineries which sell the most expensive wines in the world - Domaine de la Romanee-Conti is based. Let’s look at the wine label in this post. We now know that it is from which village (Vosne-Romanee) and from which winery (Domaine de la Romanee-Conti) so what does La Tache mean? It is in fact the name of the cru in the village and it is classified as a Grand Cru (only 1% of all appellations in Burgundy)
As for Chardonnay, we have to talk about Chablis, Mâconnais and Côte de Beaune. But since we don’t want to get you confused in this post, let’s begin with Côte de Beaune. Wines made from Chardonnay in Côte de Beaune are described as “crème de la crème” (meaning best of the best) in white Burgundy.
Although the styles of Chardonnay may differ vastly across different villages and winemakers, we can expect oak-aged whites with undertones of hazelnut and vanilla. Let’s look at the example in the second photo, we can now apply the skills we learnt earlier to decode this wine label. Puligny-Montrachet is a village in the Côte de Beaune region and “Les Folatières” is the name of the cru which the grape of the wines were came from the delineated single vineyard, and Vincent Girardin is the name of the winery which is based in Meursault (another village in Côte de Beaune) Isn’t it simple? You will gradually find understanding these labels easier as you have tried more wines!