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Côte de Nuits Villages "Clos du Chapeau"
Think of the security at the Louvre in Paris, a museum that houses countless works of art, one more breathtaking than the next. Then think of the gently rolling hills of Burgundy, and the farmers tending to their vines in row after row of vineyards that produce countless works of art of a slightly different nature. The art here is liquid, and one glass is more breathtaking than the next.

The security guards at the Louvre prevent you from using all of your senses to enjoy the paintings–you can see, but you cannot touch. With the art of the Cote de Nuits, however, you are free to use all of your senses–your eyes to marvel in the crimson hue, your nose to take in the intoxicating, smoky, deeply fruited, earthy fragrance, your mouth to taste these elements and to feel the texture and weight, and your ears to register the shock as the vigneron tells you the price. What a rude awakening! The one thing that separates man from the art at the Louvre is the security. In Burgundy, where you can freely walk through even the most highly rated vineyards, the one thing that separates man from this liquid art is the price of a bottle.

The narrow strip of vineyards in the heart of Burgundy known as the Cote de Nuits is most certainly one of the most highly-observed vineyard areas in the world. Twenty-two out of Burgundy’s twenty-three red Grand Crus, or top wines, come from this area. They are all made up of the Pinot Noir grape varietal. Chambertin, Clos de la Tart, Romanée Conti, Richebourg, and La Tache are all Grand Cru vineyards whose wines sometimes sell for hundreds, and even thousands of dollars per bottle.

Slightly lower quality Premier Cru and Village level wines are more accessible to the everyday man, and so are wines just labelled Bourgogne Rouge. While price and quality usually have a more intimate relationship in France, it is crucial to note that this is not the case in Burgundy. With so little product and such big demand, many bottles are, quite frankly, a rip off. Here is the key to getting a great wine at a decent price: try bottlings from a variety of well-known negociants such as Bouchard, Faiveley, or Louis Jadot. Once your find a negociant whose style you like, try several of his bottlings. Pay attention to the villages on the label. Each village also has its own style. If you find you like a particular village more than another, seek out a small producer from this village. Now you are getting there! Anywhere you go, you will have a handle on Burgundy. You can say things like “the Louis Jadot Gevrey-Chambertin is reliable, but tonight lets try the Denis Mortet.” (Wine/Appellations)