Italy, Burgundy

Italy has some of the oldest wine production methods in the world and almost every part of the country is planted under vine. From the Alps in the north to the very southernmost parts of Sicily where Africa is almost in sight, wine is successfully cultivated. In addition to the latitude covered, Italy's many mountains and hills provide a plethora of altitudes for grape growing in various soils and micro-climates. The extensive coastlines along the peninsula that is Italy provide maritime climates for the coastal wine-growing areas. Over 350 grape varieties are 'authorised' in Italy, though up to 550 varieties are thought to be grown.

The classification system of Italian wines has four classes, with the intention of defining a wine's origin a quality. Two of these classes are table wines, whilst DOC and DOCG fall under the EU quality wine produced in a specific region category. Vino da Tavola (VDT) means that the wine comes from Italy. Most of these wines are generally basic table wines that are consumed domestically. Indicazione Geografica Tipica (IGT) denotes a more specific region within Italy, and the resultant will be of higher quality than simple table wines, but won't conform to the rules required for higher certification. Both Denominazione di Origine Controllata (DOC) and Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOCG) are regionally more specific than IGT, and have stricter rules regarding the grape varieties grown, yields per hectare, minimum alcohol levels and so on. The major difference between DOC and DOCG is that the latter has to undergo a blind-tasting session to ensure the highest quality is achieved. Italy has 32 DOCG appelations, 311 DOC appelations and 120 IGT zones.

Key regions include Piedmont, Tuscany, Abruzzo, Veneto, Sicily and Sardinia. Common white varieties grown are Pinot Grigio, Arneis, Vermentino, Verdicchio, Fiano and Moscato. The red varieties grown the most are Sangiovese, Barbera, Dolcetto, Nebbiolo, Montepulciano, Primitivo, Nero d'Avola and Corvina.
Burgundy is undoubtedly the home of the finest Pinot Noir and Chardonnays in the world, where vineyards, or Domaines have been producing wines for over 2000 years. Burgundy is located in the North-east of France, an hours drive from Lyon and 2 hours from Paris. With over 100 appellations, or sub-regions (more than any other wine region) Burgundy is known for being the most terroir-oriented region in the World. The finest red wines of Burgundy are found in the Côte d'Or, a string of villages including Côte de Nuits, Gevrey-Chambertin, Morey St Denis, Chambolle-Musigny, Vougeot, Vosne-Romanée and Nuits-St Georges.

There are flavours present in great Burgundys that are the envy of Pinot Noir producers worldwide. The elusive peacocks tail finish that goes on and on, and the pretty-elegance backed by Burgundy muscle is the goal of winemakers around the globe. The main levels in the Burgundy classifications, in descending order of quality, are: Grand crus, Premier crus, village appellations, and finally regional appellations. For the Chablis wines, a similar hierarchy of Grand Cru, Premier Cru and Village wines is used, plus Petit Chablis as a level below Village Chablis.
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