When I was little, I remember sometimes we had a “Hearty Burgundy” wine from someone like Gallo for when spaghetti night. You can still buy this kind of wine in the stores in the US, but often times it’s a blend of different kind of wines that have nothing in particular to do with that part of France we call “Burgundy.”
Instead, Burgundy, France or “Bourgogne” is a department of France about a three hour drive east of Paris. Wine in France is very much about the place the grapes were grown. There is a strong connection with the soil type, the slope or lack of one, the way the wind blows, the sun shines and the rains come or fail to come.
The most prized wines from Burgundy come from a narrow strip of land just south of Dijon called the Cote d’Or or “golden slope.” This magical zone is subdivided down to the very vineyard, sometimes just a few acres. The location of one little plot of land can mean the difference between selling your wine for $10,000 per bottle or $20. There is a road which runs north-south through Dijon to Beaune called the D974 (although in days gone by, it was known as the N74). Roughly speaking, grapes growing east of the N74 command a much higher price than those grown west of the highway.
Usually the better wines are named after the vineyard they were grown in. So it helps to have a familiarity of the place names and how they are laid out.
There are a set of two wonderful maps of the Cote d’Or that you see everywhere you go in Bourgogne and are often displayed in bottle shops. They are gorgeously detailed, color-coded beauties. And they will set you back $95 if you buy them in France or here in US. Framing them will cost you as well. (I highly recommend these maps – in Portland you can check them out at Vinopolis or Liner & Elsen and buy them from http://cotedorpdx.com/1601/19601.html or http://www.winecloudinc.com/Official-Maps-of-Burgundy/ )
When we were in Burgundy last Spring, I saw a couple of places selling these maps, and was tempted to buy my own set as a souvenir.
Then we visited Bouchard Pere & Fils in Beaune for a tasting. As I began sampling their wines, they pulled out a brochure and showed me where their various vineyards were located. The brochure itself seemed like it was practically the same quality of map as those $95 versions. The main difference was that the entire Cote was compressed into a single map rather than being spread across two. And of course the Bouchard logo and the location of its vineyards was prominently displayed.
I gratefully took home the brochure. A local frame shop was able to matte the brochure, smoothing out the folds in the paper in the process and frame it behind lucite.
I think it looks good! And much cheaper than the more official version.