France is like the grandfather country of the wine industry, with the oldest roots and longest standing traditions in production, and functioning as the standard to which most other wine-producing regions are held. Of course, there are hundreds of wine regions in France, each of them recognized for their unique style, but one of the most famous (and for good reason) is Burgundy, or Bourgogne.
This gorgeous region is in Eastern France and is known for the wines made from Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes. Wines from this region are known as “burgundies” because they are made exclusively of grapes grown in Burgundy- a Pinot Noir from here is made of 100% Burgundy Pinot Noir grapes.
These wines are revered with such honor not just because they’re French but because the terroir of the Burgundy land has become known throughout the world for being the best in which to grow Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. The soils of Burgundy are extremely varied in richness, depth, and mineral content (the true star of a Burgundy wine), and can be different from one end of a vineyard to the other. The climate in Burgundy can be kind of a crapshoot and may differ from season to season, so not all vintages hailing from this region will be worthwhile.
Within the region, there are over 100 appellations or approved growing areas, and these are broken down into four levels of quality: (in descending order) Grand Cru, Premier Cru, Village Wines, and Regional Wines. The Grand Crus are the big time wines, the ones with the hefty price tags and high reputations, accounting for only 1% of the region’s production. Premier Cru come from special vineyards within a village and are usually a little lower in price tag but still quite fabulous in taste. Village and Regional wines are just that- produced in smaller villages and not nearly as expensive or high in quality but still exponentially better than your average 2 Buck Chuck from Trader Joe’s.
Among the growing regions of Burgundy, there are few that have become extremely popular. Chablis is a Chardonnay-growing region in the northwest corner of Burgundy, famous for their unique tasting Chardonnay- oak-aged with citrus aromas and a unique acidity that comes from the minerality in the soil.
Cote de Nuits is famous for the Pinot Noir and is home to 24 Grand Cru wines, which is fairly impressive. Almost all of the wines in this region are Pinot Noir, with the rest being Rosé and Chardonnay. Finally, there’s Cote de Beaune which is home to more Chardonnay but does produce reds as well, and along with Cote de Nuits, is considered one of the most historically important regions in Burgundy.
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