Here's your quick one-paragraph primer on Burgundy, home of some of the most elegant (and expensive) wines in the world. All white Burgundy wines are made from Chardonnay. All red Burgundy wines are made from Pinot Noir (except for Beuajolais, but that's a topic for another day). The best and most distinctive wines come from grapes grown in specific villages, and the name on the label indicates which village. Sometimes, you'll see wines that just say "Bourgogne Rouge" or "Bourgogne Blanc." These are generally lower caliber wines, with grapes sourced from outside of the specially designated villages. The more specific the label gets, indicating an individual vineyard inside the village (like Corton-Charlemagne, which comes from the Charlemagne vineyard in the village of Aloxe-Corton) the higher quality the wine—or at least, the higher the price tag! There is also a Cru system that attempts to classify the quality of various vineyards and will also impact the price you pay for a specific bottle. That's a little beyond the scope of this article but curious minds can read entire books on this subject.
To me Chassagne Montrachet is an interesting play because it is a village that, like its neighbor Puligny Montrachet, is primarily known
for its white wines. But there is a fair amount of Pinot Noir planted there as well, and the cost of entry is substantially lower than what
you'll pay for wines from the villages that are known for their reds. And while the whites grab all the press, there are some under-the-radar reds in the marketplace at good prices.
The wine I tasted in the video accompanying this article, from Lamy-pillot, is an example of the kinds of exceptional values you can uncover from this region. Checking in at $36 a bottle (which trust me, is cheap when it comes to Burgundy), this is a great find and a nice conversation starter if you are traveling with a "wine geek" sort of crowd.
Gary Vaynerchuk is the host of Wine Library TV.com