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Côte de Beaune

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The classification system in Burgundy works on four levels. At the top of the quality pyramid are the Grand Cru vineyards (the best locations that produce the best wines); followed by Premier Cru vineyards, which produce beautiful wines and on to the village level (where the Côte de Beaune Villages falls), followed by the bottom rung, regionally labeled wines (you'll see "Burgundy" on a label, meaning the wine is made from grapes that can come from anywhere in Burgundy).

Making up the southern part of the Côte d'Or (or, "Golden Coast"), the Côte de Beaune is an oenophile's playground with 16 villages - the names of which can trigger instant salivation, depending on your devotion to Burgundy wines. From north to south: Ladoix, Pernand-Vergelesses, Aloxe-Corton, Savigny-lés Beaune, Chorey-lés-Beaune, Beaune, Pommard, Volnay, St-Romain, Monthélie, Auxey-Duresses, Meursault, St-Aubin, Puligny- Montrachet, Chassagne-Montrachet and Santenay.

Soil differences are quite extreme here, so expect the wines from the north to share common characteristics of red and blackberry flavors and violets. Those from the south will have the same fruit characteristics but much more earthy notes like moist soil and mushrooms.