When they are great, the red wines from Burgundy might be considered the world's finest. And they have the price tag to prove it. But they can also be among the most disappointing wines in the world. It is wise to seek the advise of a professional when purchasing top burgundies.

Quick Burgundy Facts:

In Burgundy, the property that produces a wine is called a domaine. On the other hand most of Bordeaux's major wine facilities are called chateaux.

domaines - growers who do everything: grow, vinify, bottle and sell. These are the best burgundies. Small quantities and high prices.

cooperatives - groups of growers who band together. Medium quality. Larger quantities, lower prices.

negociants - merchants who buy grapes, juice, or fermented wine. Blended in their own cellars. Largest quantity, little individuality.

The average winemaker in Burgundy produces between 500 and 1000 cases.

The average winemaker in Bordeaux produces between 15,000 and 20,000 cases.

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Click on the above link to return to the main wine and food page. There you will find a listing of twelve different varieties of wine and the menus specially chosen to create perfect pairings. Great Pinot Noirs are rare. The grape is finicky and sickly. But they can be food friendly, works of art. Click the black bars above each photo to view the recipes.
In a true case of the ugly duckling becoming the graceful swan, the sickly, mutation-prone Pinot Noir grape can be transformed into the subtle and elegant Pinot Noir wine. Temperamental is a polite word for the characteristics of this grape. It is the most difficult to grow, requiring well- draining soil and a cool climate, and the trickiest to vinify. A truly great Pinot Noir needs an artist's touch. The vintners in Burgundy have been blessed with the perfect soil, an ideal climate, and a tradition founded in six hundred years of tweaking. As a result, the best red Burgundies are at the top of the world's great wines. True, they are scarce - Burgundy only realizes 25% of Bordeaux's production - they are expensive - in a good vintage red Burgundies can often fetch over $500 a bottle - and they are confusing - Burgundies patchwork of wineries would take years to understand. But don't be daunted and DON'T BE AFRAID TO ASK FOR HELP. Quality varies greatly from year to year, and with the pirces they are asking for these wines, the assistance of your local wine merchant can be invaluable. For the budget conscious out there, look for a reputable negociant (see quick facts). You might still find a bargain.
Burgundy has played an important role in European winemaking for centuries. There is evidence that wine was used as currency to seal trade agreement in the region as far back as 500 BCE. During the Middle Ages most of the vineyards belonged to Benedictine or Cistercian Monasteries. It is a credit to their loving dedication and meticulous record keeping that the sensitive Pinot Noir grape survived at all. Under the Dukes of Burgundy, the region grew to rival the neighboring Kingdom of France. As the power and reputation of the Dukes increased so did that of their favorite beverage. It is said that even the famed Musketeers were required to tip their hats when passing the illustrious vineyards of Burgundy. While the prestige of Pinot Noir never waned, Burgundy, however, was swallowed up by the growing French Kingdom. This region's status was little affected by all of these changes until the French Revolution. Seen as an instrument of the overthrown king, the Church had their wineries taken, broken up and sold. The bewildering puzzle of vineyards we see today is the visible result. Still, Burgundy ranks with Bordeaux as the two greatest wine producing regions of France, if not the world. But unlike Bordeaux, whose fame rests squarely on its red wines, Burgundy can boast top red, white, and sparkling wines (Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Champagne, respectively).
Burgundy is without a doubt the undisputed home of Pinot Noir, and the area within Burgundy that produces the greatest of them all is the aptly named Cote d'Or or golden slope. With perfect terrain, centuries of experience, and peerless worldwide reputation, imagine the shock the Burgundian winemakers felt when in 1979 an upstart Oregon Pinot Noir outclassed many famous Burgundies at the Gault-Millau Magazine wine tasting in Paris. But it was only a matter of time before a great Pinot was achieved in Oregon. Now it is generally considered the grape's second home. But as with Burgundy, the cooler climate makes for erratic vintages, so the year is very important. California seems to have turned the corner recently with Pinot Noirs. Not completely successful with techniques used in Burgundy, the California winemakers are rewriting the Pinot Noir book. Better locations and careful vineyard management has resulting in some stellar examples. Look for Russian River Valley and Sonoma Coast as your best bets. But beware of the big jugs marked "Burgundy". These wines are made from ordinary grapes produced on huge, industrial scale vineyards, often containing no Pinot Noir at all. Check with your local merchant and try this elegant, versatile, and approachable wine.