Hello there! I'm Dr. Vinifera, but you can call me Vinny. Ask me your toughest wine questions, from the fine points of etiquette to the science of winemaking. And don't worry, I'm no wine snob—you can also ask me those "dumb questions" you're too embarrased to ask your wine geek friends! I hope you find my answers educational, empowering and even amusing. And don't forget to check out my most asked questions and my full archives for all my Q&A classics.
Dear Dr. Vinny,
Is there another name for “red Burgundy”?
—Lottie, Melbourne, Australia
Burgundy is the name of a wine region in France where the primary grape for red wines is Pinot Noir (for the white wines it’s Chardonnay). “Red Burgundy” refers to Pinot Noir from Burgundy.
The Burgundy region is divided up into many, many subregions and individual vineyards, the best of which are designated as premiers and grands crus (check out Wine Spectator senior editor Bruce Sanderson’s ABCs of Burgundy video for a quick tutorial). At the bottom of the quality pyramid in Burgundy is the Bourgogne appellation, and the Pinot Noirs at that level are labeled as Bourgogne Rouge, which of course is French for “red Burgundy.”
But not all Pinot Noirs are red Burgundies. Like Champagne, the term Burgundy only applies to wines specifically made in the Burgundy region. But many winemakers who make Pinot Noir or Chardonnay in the same style as the wines of Burgundy may say their wines are made in the “Burgundian style” or with “Burgundian techniques.” There’s a good reason why they mention Burgundy as their inspiration: Burgundy’s best wines are truly remarkable, and they’re some of the most sought-after and expensive wines in the world. The term invokes the romance of terroir as well as small-batch, handcrafted winemaking techniques.
I note that you’re from Victoria, Australia, which is one of many regions around the world that make terrific Pinot Noirs. New Zealand, Oregon and California are also among the global regions where Pinot Noir excels.