What’s the most popular white wine poured in the U.S. today? Score one for Chardonnay. Then ask us if we’d like a white Burgundy and we’re not so sure. In the world of wine, white Burgundy is considered the ultimate Chardonnay.
When you sip a white Burgundy, you are tasting the history of Burgundy itself.
Things go way back with Chardonnay and Burgundy. There’s no other place in the world where terroir is better expressed than in Burgundy. Orders of monks began meticulous scrutiny of the soil, the climate, the vineyard orientation and the vintages as early as 900AD. This eventually resulted in the regional classifications still in use today.
To appreciate white Burgundy, begin with demystifying the name itself. If you’re looking at a bottle of white Burgundy, know that by French law, the grape is 100% Chardonnay. That’s the simple part. Next, be aware of another French law: wines are named after the place where they are made. Within Burgundy there are four regions where Chardonnay is produced: Chablis, Mâconnais, Côte Chalonnaise and the Côte de Beaune. Store these four areas in your inner wine-GPS. They’ll help guide your selections.
Chardonnay has two personalities in Burgundy. The first is bright and light, with a clean acidity. Might we say crisp, but in a French sort of way? This profile comes with a stainless steel-style winemaking approach. It’s un-oaked. The Chablis and Mâconnais regions are your sources for these très chic, “we love chèvre, delicate fish and those enticing munchies you serve at aperitif time” wines.
There’s no other place in the world where terroir is better expressed than in Burgundy.
The second personality is the barrel-style Chardonnay. This wine celebrates its vinification with rich, full and elegant flavors. These are the white Burgundies that want to be paired with your butter poached lobster, veal in a light cream sauce, and your Brie and Camembert. They hail from the Côte de Beaune or the Côte Chalonnaise regions.
Leave it to Burgundy to create two very different, yet equally appealing styles of the same grape. Its wines have been the inspiration for Chardonnays worldwide. What makes it the ultimate? It’s said when you drink simply a Chardonnay, it can be from anywhere. Ah, but when you sip a white Burgundy, you are tasting the history of Burgundy itself.