||or Bourgogne (bor guh nyeh)-this region in eastern France, known equally for the excellence of its red and white wines, consists mostly of small estates, or domaines. Although its climate and soil are particularly suited to the Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes, with Gamay dominant in the southern district of Beaujolais, Burgundy’s terroir is so varied that each vineyard creates distinctive wines. This wide variety accounts for not only the plethora of sublime wines coming from this region, but also for the relatively small production levels. There are five main districts in Burgundy: The Côte d’Or, The Côte Chalonnaise, Chablis, The Mâconnais, and Beaujolais. Red Burgundy is paler than Bordeaux, ranging in color from garnet to cherry or ruby, because the Pinot Noir grape has less color than the Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot grapes. It tends to be full in body and low in tannin. The characteristic aroma is cherries and berries, with woodsy, or mushroomy accents. When a red burgundy ages, it often develops a silky texture, richness, and natural sweetness of fruit flavors. Red Burgundies are great to drink young because of their softness and fruitiness, and they are incredibly versatile companions to food.
||France is the standard bearer for all the world’s wines, with regard to the types of grapes that are used to make wine and with the system of defining and regulating winemaking. Its Appellation d’Origine Controlee, or AOC system, is the legislative model for most other European countries. Most French wines are named after places. The system is hierarchical; generally the smaller and more specific the region for which a wine is named, the higher its rank. There are four possible ranks of French wine, and each is always stated on the label: Appellation Contrôlée (or AOC), Vin Délimité de Qualité Supérieure (or VDQS); Vin de pays, or country wine; and Vin de table. France has five major wine regions, although there are several others that make interesting wines. The three major regions for red wine are Bordeaux, Burgundy, and the Rhone; for white wines, the regions are Burgundy, the Loire and Alsace. Each region specialized in certain grape varieties for its wines, based on climate, soil, and local tradition. Two other significant French wine regions are Provence and Languedoc-Roussillon, both in the south of France. Cahors, in the southwest of the country, produces increasingly good wines.
||(pee noh nwahr)—A tricky grape to grow, Pinot Noir makes some of the best wines in the world. The prototype wine is red Burgundy from France but Oregon, California, New Zealand, and parts of Australia also produce good Pinot Noir. The wine is lighter in color than Cabernet or Merlot with relatively high alcohol, medium-to-high acidity, and medium-to-low tannin. Its flavors and aromas can be very fruity or earthy and woodsy, depending on how it is grown. It is rarely blended with other grapes.