One of the world’s most famous wine regions, Burgundy — with its charming stone villages — maintains a medieval aura. Located in eastern France, the region turns out some of the greatest red wines ever produced from pinot noir and some of the most inspirational white wines in the world from its chardonnay — setting a standard for these grapes that the rest of the world can only attempt to duplicate.
Burgundy’s great wines come from the Côte d’Or, a 30-mile ribbon of vines at the heart of the region. The northern section, called the Côte de Nuits, produces mostly reds; the southern section, called Côte de Beaune, is known for both red and white wines.
Beneath its tranquil setting, however, Burgundy is a tantalizing puzzle. Here, the same grape grown by the same vintner in vineyards a stone’s throw from one another can produce wines of distinctly different characters. Here, too, nearly every vineyard is divided among several owners with each owner working his own plot of vines. The result? Purchasing burgundy can be a game of chance.
How, then, do you zero in on a good burgundy? Simply by tasting and learning which brokers, négociants and vintners offer wines most pleasing to your palate. Examples of wines that are likely to be of superb and steadfast quality include those listed as Becky Wasserman Selection among brokers, as Joseph Drouhin among négociants, or as Michel Lafarge or Comtes Lafon among individual vintners.
Also of exceptional quality are the Côte de Nuits wines of Alain Burguet from the village of Gevrey-Chambertin; Domaine Lignier-Michelot from Morey St. Denis; Domaine des Monts Luisants, also from Morey St. Denis; Maison Camille Giroud and Domaine J.F. Mugnier, both from Vosne-Romanée; and Domaine Dominique Mugneret from Nuits St. Georges.
The Côte de Beaune is home to both Lafarge (in the village of Volnay) and Lafon (Meursault). Other worthy Côte de Beaune vintners are Domaine Matrot-Willtersheim (Volnay), Domaine Coste Caumartin (Pom-mard) and Domaine Hubert Lamy (St. Aubin).
Like the land itself, Burgundy’s wines do not announce themselves with a roar of thunder or a bolt of lightning, with high tannins and raw power. Their introduction is smoother and more subtle, reminiscent of smooth satin and elegant silk. And the pleasure of their company remains long after the glass is empty.
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