We all know France consistently takes the lead at the top of the global wine community, and for good reason. We’re only a little bit jealous but honestly, they really know good wine over there. There are literally hundreds of appellations throughout the nation of France, most of which you probably haven’t heard of, but there are two that stand out among the rest: Bordeaux and Burgundy.
For centuries there has been a debate about which region is superior to the other, and no one can seem to find the answer. It’s sort of like New York vs. Chicago pizza- obviously, we think NYC pizza is the best, but that’s because we live here, and if you went to Chicago and asked them, you know they’d say theirs is the best.
Let’s just get one thing straight: both of these regions produce absolutely spectacular wines and deserve their place at the top of the global list. We’re going to give you the facts but it’s really up to you to decide.
Bordeaux is like the Upper East Side of French wine regions: old money, very well established in their traditions and methods, and producing in high capacity. Burgundy is like Williamsburg: new school, much smaller but full of interesting and uncommon ideas, and producing less although it’s of very high quality. Think Fairway vs. Greenmarket.
Burgundy tends to be a bit more well-rounded, producing both reds and whites in equal quality, while Bordeaux is famous for the reds, particularly Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. The reds of Bordeaux are intended for blending and the standards to which they are grown are extremely high, which is why you might hear of a “Bordeaux-style” wine that’s grown in say, California. Burgundy produces plenty of both red and white but the most popular of each are the Pinot Noir and the Chardonnay. If you’re looking for a prime example of a perfect Pinot Noir, you head straight to Burgundy.
Of course, because this is France we’re talking about here, you won’t see Burgundy or Bordeaux on any labels; you’ll just see the name of the appellation where it was grown. Here’s where things might sound familiar. In Burgundy, you have the famous regions of Chablis, Cote d’Or, and Beaujolais (to name a few.) In Bordeaux, they name their wines by the producer, not the piece of land they are grown on, so it’s mostly Left Bank and Right Bank.
Both regions produce exquisite wines, and some of the best from each can be outrageously expensive. Really, this comes down to preference. If you love reds, you’re going to be over the moon for a Bordeaux red blend because of the gorgeous grapes that are grown there, and because they’ve been producing wines for centuries so they really know what they’re doing. Burgundy is better for single-varietal wines, which is an entirely different ball game but can be worth just as much.
Our suggestion is to just go to France and visit each region to know what they’re about. Or, find a really fancy wine shop that imports both and do a test in your home. Either way, you’ll be impressed.
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