Feature

A primer on quality Burgundies

How to choose a good Burgundy wine

Burgundy is bewildering, said Joseph Ward in The Washington Post. This French wine region produces some of the world’s best Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. But even wine lovers familiar with the byways of Bordeaux, Napa Valley, or the Rhône “throw up their hands when given a Burgundy list.”

Unlike Bordeaux wines that are classified by château, those of Burgundy are classified by village and/or vineyard. Translation: There is only one Château Petrus in Bordeaux, for instance, but many eminent Burgundy vineyards share the name Chambertin. The challenge is finding which are the very best. Here is a guide to the five levels of the Burgundy pyramid, from the moderately priced good (Bourgogne) to the very expensive great (Grand Cru).

Bourgogne
Bourgogne Blanc Terroirs de Côte d’Or Verget ($16) “Crisp, fresh, some citrus.” A very good white—usually a Chardonnay, though Pinot Blanc and Pinot Gris are sometimes used.

Regional
Côte de Nuits Villages 2005 Bertrand Ambroise ($33) A bit rustic, but a nicely structured Pinot Noir.

Petit Chablis 2006 Louis Michel ($23) A Chardonnay that’s not at all oaky; “lots of acidity.”

Village
Gevrey-Chambertin 2005 Louis Jadot ($45) A very well made Pinot Noir. Also a bargain.

Chambolle-Musigny 2006 Joseph Drouhin ($65) An “elegant, perfumed” Pinot Noir.

Premier Cru
Chablis Fourchaume Vignoble de Vaulorent 2006 William Fèvre ($65) “I can never understand why the great wines of Chablis aren’t more popular.” A splendid Chardonnay.

Grand Cru
Chambertin Close de Beze 2006 Faiveley ($230) Simply superb. A Pinot Noir “built for the long haul.”

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