Burgundy or Pinot Noir - What’s the Difference?
Ever since the highly successful movie, “Sideways”, extolled the virtues of pinot noir some years back, sales of this grape variety have hit never before attainable numbers. That’s California pinot noir, not French. Many California pinot noir producers planted more PN for future offerings in the hopes that the trend would continue. Despite the weak economy for the past several years, sales would indicate that their bets were well placed.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m GLAD for the success of domestic producers who offer fairly priced/good quality wine that is interestingly packaged. I am delighted to have brought into Mass. many smaller, independent producers such as Forchini, Topel, Robert Mueller and Mount Eden Vineyards, to name a few. As for domestic pinot noirs, I understand their popularity. They are, first and foremost, labeled “pinot noir”; one need not guess the grape variety from the label. They are easy to drink, not too tannic, have good flavor intensity and can be enjoyed with salmon or scallops as easily as grilled chicken or burgers.
Here’s where I get confused: We offer many truly outstanding 100% pinot noirs from Burgundy that sell in a range of $12.99 to $24.99 a bottle. Yet we sell only fractional amounts of these as opposed to domestic pinot noirs. Yeah, I know. Some people don’t like “the French”. Others are confused by the Burgundy labels. French growers assume that anyone who buys a Pommard, Gevery Chambertin, Chambolle Musigny, or Bourgogne Rouge knows that they are pure pinot noir. However, only the lower echelon BRs might have “pinot noir” on the label. It would be a pity if people didn’t at least make the effort to try some less expensive Burgundies, especially from 2009, if only to learn what they are all about. After all, red Burgundies are, deservedly, the standard by which all other pinot noirs are judged. And it is fun to compare them with current domestic favorites.