Tuesday, January 15, 2013
There are three main areas of Burgundy which produce white wine. From north to south they are: Chablis, Cote de Beaune, and Maconnais. Each of those areas can be further divided by village or vineyard. That is a chore you can study on your own time. There are also wines simply labeled Bourgogne, which for one reason or another can't be classified by region, village, or vineyard. The French hold grudges and luckily for you this means there is the opportunity to grab some great wines at a low price.
Burgundy is the land of the negociant. A negociant buys grapes from growers and turns it into wine. So a good way to find which wines you like from Burgundy is to start by figuring out which negociants you like. Their names are on the label making it easy for you to remember.
Chablis: The wines of Chablis are generally high in acid and perfect with raw or lightly cooked seafood. Think of Chablis as still Champagne; it isn't a perfect analogy but it will get you there. The wines of Chablis go particularly well with most of the crabmeat, crawfish, shrimp dishes in the New Orleans culinary canon. In a crowded room, if you note that it is steely, lemon kissed, or that it is like drinking seashells, people will probably think you are goober who knows a lot about wine.
Cote de Beaune: According to some, birth order is everything. Usually the middle child suffers from a lack of attention and does crazy things like drop out of college and follow String Cheese Incident. But here, in Burgundy, the middle child is thriving. In fact the wines from the Cote de Beaune give the region its gravitas. Read here: there are some shockingly expensive wines that hedge fund managers covet. Of course, there are plenty of fantastic options for those of us balling on a budget. Look for the name Mersault or Puligny-Montrachet on the label. Suggesting that this wine would be perfect with lobster with tarragon cream sauce or veal tenderloin with mushrooms should make people wonder if you are in the 1%.
Maconnais: The further south you go in many countries, the warmer and friendlier the people become. The food is generally better, also. The wines of Maconais are good wines to sip at the end of the day while you cook dinner. If you are getting married or throwing a party, pick a wine from Maconnais as your white. People will thank you. These wines are unfussy, simple pleasures which get along with a wide range of foods. There is no better co-pilot for roast chicken than a Macon-Villages. Best of all, these wines are generally affordable enough to make opening a second bottle a no-brainer.