Find better quality Pinot Noir from Burgundy by understanding how the wines are classified. There are over 100 “appellations,” or approved wine growing areas, and these are divided into 4 levels of quality.
Regional Wines can be made from grapes grown anywhere in Burgundy and tend to be fresh, light, and lively, making them terrific sippers or aperitif wines. You will find them labeled “Bourgogne Rouge”. Don’t forget to check out the back label on these wines! They are now allowed to note the grape variety, which can be really helpful.
Village Wines The next step-up are the “Village” wines, named after the towns near to where the grapes are sourced. These wines are still fresh and fruity, with little-to-no oak, but are a tad more complex. Look for names like “Pouilly Fuisse,” “Santenay,” “Givry,” or “Mercurey.” Premier Cru Burgundy “Premier Cru” wines are from special vineyard areas within a village. These bits of vineyard are called “climats” (clee-mats) and produce wines that are a bit more intense than the regular old Village wines! This might be because of the type of soil, the way the vineyard faces the morning sun, longer aging in oak, or a myriad of other reasons.
Premier Crus are still affordable and make marvelous food wines. The label will say “Premier Cru” or “1er Cru.”
Grand Cru Burgundy are the big daddies of Bourgogne – the “Grand Cru” with famous names like Romanée Conti, La Tâche, Montrachet, etc., and a label that will proudly proclaim the “Grand Cru” status!
Although they account for just over 1% of Burgundy’s annual production, these are the wines for which people are willing to pay top dollar. Bold, powerful, complex and made for cellaring, they are the epitome of both Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. There are a total of 33 Grand Cru vineyards in Burgundy – some are just inches away from a Premier Cru vineyard.