There have long been a number of great reasons to visit France’s Burgundy region—the wines are some of the best in the world, the food is fantastic, and it was once one of the most powerful independent Duchys in Europe, at least until Charles the Bold got his head cleaved in half and his body stuck through with spears back in 1477 (always a bummer). The other day, however, Burgundy gained a new reason for a visit: its climats are now a UNESCO world heritage site.
And what is a climat? It’s essentially a named vineyard site distinct because of its terroir, another French term that encompasses the soil, topography and climate of a place, and the character a wine derives from those elements. There are more than 1,200 different climats in the part of Burgundy (basically, the Côtes de Nuits and the Côtes de Beaune) that was granted world heritage status, from famed grand crus like Bonnes Mares to many lesser-known ones.
However, since not everyone’s summer travel plans are going to include a trip to Burgundy this year, here are a few terrific Burgundies to try while you contemplate future overseas excursions.
2011 Maison L’Envoye Bourgogne Rouge ($25) Former Evening Land founder Mark Tarlov launched this Burgundy (and Oregon) project recently, together with wine importer Old Bridge Cellers. Its introductory level Bourgogne Rouge is appealingly crisp and light-bodied, with bright raspberry flavors.
2013 Charly Nicolle Chablis 1er Cru Les Fourneaux ($40) Chablis lies outside the recent Unesco heritage site boundaries, but who cares: This white is all citrus and stones, delicious, and classically Chablis in nature.
2012 Jean-Claude Bachelet Saint Aubin 1er Cru Derrière La Tour ($40) Dark raspberry fruit and surprisingly silky tannins given their intensity define this impressive St. Aubin.
2012 Joseph Faiveley Blagny 1er Cru La Piece Sous le Bois ($50) Blagny is unusual, in that it’s a red wine appellation laid over parts of Meursault and Puligny-Montrachet, both far better known for whites. As such, it can be a deal (in Burgundy terms), as with this dark-berried, supple wine.
2012 Louis Jadot Chassagne Montrachet ($60) Rich without being weighty, this graceful white Burgundy has aromas of pear and barrel-spice, lively acidity, and a light note of floral honey. 2012 was a tough year, with destructive hail in the Côte de Beaune during the summer, but you'd never guess it from this seductive wine.