Before I became semi-serious about wines, Burgundy and Bordeaux were two words that totally confused me. Were they wines? Were they places in France? If they were wines were they white or red? I didn’t know it then but I know now the answers to each of those questions is “YES”.
Let’s start with Bordeaux, a wine region in Southwestern France known for excellent red wines. The Gironde River runs through Bordeaux and the area on either side of that river is called “The Right Bank” and “The Left Bank”. The land on the right is gravelly and suited for Cabernet Sauvignon while the land (terroir) on the right is sandy and more suited to Merlot. Both regions make some of the best wines in the world. The five First Growths are all made in the Bordeaux region as is one of the best and most expensive wines produced anywhere, Petrus. A bottle of the 2005 Petrus currently sells for about $4000.
In addition, the area known as Sauternes is home to one of the great white wines of the world, a delicious dessert wine, Chateau d’Yquem. I was fortunate enough to have sampled this several years ago in Maine. It is usually sold in 375ml bottles and a very good vintage can sell for $250 to $300 a bottle.
The Burgundy region is an area in North-Central France. It is world-renowned for both red and white wines. The red wines of Burgundy are produced from the Pinot Noir grape. This grape is much more delicate than both cabernet and merlot and requires constant care and attention from the wine-maker to coax it to its unique, subtle flavors. Many wine connessieurs believe that the wines of Burgundy, both red and white, are without question the best wines the world has to offer. The most famous and desirable of all of the wines of Burgundy are those of Domaine Romanee-Conti; you may often see it simplified to DRC. They are produced from a very small and very unique parcel of land that year after year turns out wines of magnificent finesse. They are extremely rare and expensive and I doubt I will ever experience a DRC wine.
The white wines of Burgundy are made exclusively from Chardonnay. They are sometimes referred to as Chablis but that is a town in the area famous for its chardonnay grapes. A debate rages over the quality of the white wines of Burgundy versus those of the high quality areas of Napa and Sonoma. Most wine aficionados cast their vote in favor of Burgundy.
Hopefully, this brief synopsis of Burgundy and Bordeaux will inspire you to read more on the subject. It’s an area of the world that has been producing great wines for hundreds of years and makes for a fascinating subject.