BURGUNDY! Yes I am shouting as I type because it is one of the wine regions in the world I adore. I’m certainly not alone here, it’s likely the top region for most Sommeliers. Maybe you’re reading this wondering where the heck Burgundy is and what the wines are. It’s ok, I’m here to make it easy. Burgundy is a complex region, so I’ll save that part for another blog.
Burgundy is one of the oldest wine regions in France, and about 300km south-east of Paris. As I mentioned, Burgundy is a complicated region even though it is very small. Complicated because of the various vineyards and designations of them. And no two wines taste alike. I could be wrong, but I believe Burgundy is where the term “terroir” originated. The soils of limestone are what makes these wines so intoxicating, and I don’t mean by getting you intoxicated in the drunk sense. They are mysterious and magical, and can be very expensive. However once you learn your way around, you can find some outstanding values.
So what’s easy about Burgundy? The GRAPES! 99.5% of the time if you are drinking a white or red Burgundy, you are having either Chardonnay or Pinot Noir. So, if you are a lover of those grapes, it’s time to fall in love with Burgundy if you haven’t already. I swear once you go Burgundy, it’s challenging to drink these grapes from anywhere else in the world. BUT, being a lover of wine, I do. Nothing can ever compare though to Burgundy. Burgundy just happens to be the motherland of these grapes and well, they’ve been producing the wines there since the middle ages, so they sort of know what they’re doing.
The best way to get into Burgundy is to start at your local independent wine shop. Vintages are very important in Burgundy and 2015 is a killer vintage for the novice (and collector as well). Why? It’s a vintage of very high quality, as well as fruity with good acidity. Remember, fruity does not mean sweet. It basically means that the fruit is more dominant than other aromas, something people who are used to drinking California wines like.
Ask the retail clerk where their Burgundy section is and if they have any recommendations. I usually like to give a price point so that they can narrow things down for you. If you’re too shy, then here’s a simple tip on reading the labels. There are the basic (although nothing really ever basic about them) “Bourgogne” you will see on a label. Bourgogne is French for Burgundy. Many producers have been adding “Pinot Noir” or “Chardonnay” to those labels to make it easier for the consumer. Those are the wines you can find great pricing on, and the 2015’s are outstanding. Another tip is to look on the label for the words, “Grand Vin de Bourgogne.” They are going to be the smaller print on the front or back label. Be sure to also see who the importer is, this can be found on the back label and is extremely important for Burgundy. A few of the best importers for Burgundy are North Berkeley Imports, Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant, Martine’s Wines, and Vineyard Brands.
I’ll delve into more detailed information about Burgundy and break down the region in another Blog. Like I said, it’s a complicated region, so let’s take it slow! For now, go get yourself some 2015’s and comment below on what you found.
For my friends in San Diego, watch this quick video featuring a local retailer. They have really built out their Burgundy section and it is totally worth a visit!