The finest red and white wines of Burgundy set the standard for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. At their best, Burgundy wines are the world's most aromatically complex, silky, and seductive wines, thanks to their ineffable combination of fruits, flowers, minerals, and earth, and their ability to project flavor authority without excess weight. But first-rate Burgundies are produced in limited quantities. Burgundy is a minefield for the casual wine lover, as there is still far too much mediocre and grossly overpriced wine. The problem in a nutshell is that a single, small premier cru vineyard may be carved up among a dozen or more owners, and the Burgundy wines produced, even though they sell for roughly the same price at the cellar door, can range from the sublime to the undrinkable, depending on the talent and commitment of the producer.
The Cote d'Or, or ""golden slope,"" is the heart of Burgundy, a 30-mile-long ribbon of vineyards stretching from just south of Dijon to Chagny. But the greater Burgundy region also encompasses Chablis in its extreme north, and the Cote Chalonnaise and Maconnais regions located to the south of the Cote d'Or. Beaujolais, at the extreme southern end of Burgundy, virtually reaches the outskirts of Lyon.