Great Burgundy wines
Alongside Bordeaux, Burgundy is probably the most celebrated wine region in France, if not the world. It is far smaller than Bordeaux but contains a huge concentration of renowned vineyards. The great Burgundy wines are known as grand cru wines and they are among the most desirable wines in the world. In Burgundy, terroir is everything and the character and quality of the wine is thought to be directly related to the climate, soil, elevation and aspect of the vineyard. The grand cru burgundy wines come from the regions of Chablis, Cote de Nuits and Cote de Beaune.
The grapes of great Burgundy wines
The classic grapes of great Burgundy wines, the 'Burgundies' as they are often called, are Pinot Noir for the reds and Chardonnay for the whites. These grapes, especially, perhaps, Chardonnay, have had a hard time at the hands of mass-produced New World winemakers, but here in Burgundy they are at their very best. The Chablis grand cru, with the eponymous Chablis white wine, is the best example of the use of Chardonnay anywhere in the world. Pinot Noir, meanwhile, creates the most memorable reds from Burgundy.
Grand cru and great Burgundy wines
When considering the great Burgundy wines, it is vital to understand the concept of the grand cru classification. This is the highest standard of wine in Burgundy and accounts for only 2% of the area under vines. Clearly this limited supply has the effect of keeping prices, and hopefully quality, high. I should be remembered, however, that the grand cru designation is given to an area, rather than an individual wine, so there is still the possibility of considerable variation in even these revered wines.
Buying great Burgundy wines
With so much complexity in the world of Burgundy grand crus, it is important to have some guidance when trying to find the truly great Burgundy wines. Here, the Gilbert & Gaillard wine guide is the perfect resource. The guide assesses each individual wine, not just the grand cru area, and judges it impartially according to a wide set of criteria. This results in the wine being awarded a simple score out of 100, which allows the wine buyer to easily compare the quality of different wines from Burgundy or elsewhere. The accompanying tasting notes round out the character of the wine being considered.