William Fevre Les Clos Chablis Grand Cru 2001
About the Region
Bordeaux's traditional rival for red and white wine prominence in France, Burgundy is an ancient vineyard region southeast of Paris and just north of Lyon. It is divided into five main regions: Chablis in the north; the Côte de Nuits, just southwest of Dijon; the Côte de Beaune, extending out from the town of that name; the Côte Chalonnaise below that; and the Maconnais, around the city of Macôn. The Côte de Nuits is famous above all for its red wines, including those of Chambertin, Chambolle-Musigny and Bonnes Mares, and the Domaine de la Romanée Conti. There are fine reds from the Côte de Beaune as well, often somewhat lighter than those from the Côte de Nuits (Volnay and Pommard are two examples), but the whites are the region's glory — with such famous wines as Meursault and Montrachet. Ten villages in the Beaujolais region, south of Macôn, are also permitted to label themselves as burgundy. Though the region is comparatively small (its planted vineyard area is about a fourth the size of Bordeaux's), it contains the largest number of appellations found in any French wine region — about a hundred. These are divided, in descending order of perceived quality, into grand cru (about 2 percent of the total Burgundy production, for instance Montrachet or Romanée Conti) premier cru, village appellations, and regional appellations. Unlike Bordeaux, Burgundy is a patchwork of tiny vineyards, many of them of less than an acre, each with its distinctive terroir. The overwhelming majority of the white wines are made from chardonnay, the reds from pinot noir (though pinot gris and aligoté for whites and gamay for reds appear in some areas, and sauvignon blanc is permitted in Saint Bris). The best of the whites are elegant, complex wines with good acidity, vivid varietal character, and judicious use of new oak; the reds can be even more elegant and complex, with earthy, sometimes smoky flavors and often with what is politely termed a "barnyard" aroma (which is considered typical and desirable). Some red burgundies, even those with famous names, can be thin and sour, but when they're good, they're some of the most extraordinary wines in the world.