New world vs. old world, colors, style, logo, font….all things that factor into a wine’s label. So many of us choose a wine based on an emotional response to a label, but recently I learned a few tricks to help understand what exactly it is you’re choosing.
When it comes to French whites from Burgundy, there are a few key tips to remember.
There are 3 primary “levels” of quality:
Village Wine is your cheapest option ($) – the label will note the name of a specific village.
|Chardonnay from the Macon Village
Retail Price $12
Premier Cru – ($$) From a specific vineyard within one of the named villages. Typically village name is listed first, then vineyard.
|Chablis Premier Cru from the village of Montmains, and the specific vineyard “Moulin de Vaudon”
Retail Price $39
Grand Cru – ($$$$$) From a specific vineyard that is considered to have the best soil in the area. Labels will typically have only the specific vineyard name on the label. Sometimes it can be labeled Premier Cru, signifying that it is a blend of different cru vineyards.
Other factors that contribute to the price/quality of the wine include oak and aging time. Village wine is typically aged in 25% new oak, Premier Cru 40-70% and Grand Cru 80-100% new oak.
Remember these tips next time you’re browsing your local wine store or ordering in a restaurant, and you’ll be sure to get the best value for your $. And if you’re on an expense account you have my full permission to go for that Grand Cru, just promise you’ll tell me how it was!
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