Burgundy Prices Are Soaring—Here Are Other Excellent Wines to Drink Instead (2024)

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We remember a time in the not-so-distant past that you could find several white Burgundies on a list at a top restaurant in the $100 range. Sure, there were bottles that fetched four or five times that amount, but once upon a time, Michelin-starred eateries in major U.S. cities had multiple Burgundy options in their cellars that would simultaneously please the palate and the pocket. After back-to-back vintages with smaller-than-normal yields and restaurant price increases spiraling out of control, ordering Pinot Noir or Chardonnay from its home in France to enjoy with a meal is becoming an almost too-rarefied luxury. While most of us can afford the meal we want even as appetizer and entrée prices have gone through the roof, there is definitely a moment of hesitation before choosing a bottle in the $500 plus range.

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So what to do when you’re dining out and the Burgundy you are hankering for is giving major sticker-shock vibes? Be honest with yourself and the sommelier and look for options that offer you the taste and tactile sensations that draw you toward Burgundy but won’t break the bank. Although New World versions of Chardonnay often have a heavier hand on the oak than their French counterparts and American Pinot Noir can be bolder and more extracted, we often recommend wines from the Russian River Valley and Sonoma Coast AVAs and Willamette Valley in Oregon. We also believe that often-overlooked Beaujolais is a good option, as Gamay is a close relative of Pinot Noir and the most expensive bottles from the region are in the same price range as entry-level Burgundy.


One of our habits when pondering wine is to think outside the box; a recent trip to Campo de Borja, a little-known Spanish region that specializes in Garnacha, made us realize that the elegant style produced there has the soft tannins, moderate acidity, and combination of red-berry and spice flavors that we love in red Burgundy. Pam Walton, beverage director at Manhatta in downtown New York City, also considers Spanish Garnacha a good replacement to scratch the Burgundy itch, although she prefers bottles from Sierra de Gredos near Madrid, specifically those from producer Bernabeleva. “As you go higher up the slope those Garnachas are tasting on par with great Burgundy and Barolos,” she tells us. “They are definitely not Burgundy, but they compare in age worthiness, with long lasting fruit, acid and balance.” Garnacha isn’t the only Spanish option that restaurant pros consider when suggesting a wine that will work. Luke Boland, corporate wine director for restaurant group Hospitality Department, which operates the Press Club Grill and Point Seven in Manhattan, is a fan of Mencia, a red grape native to Galicia. “Styles vary a bit here, but typically you get a medium bodied, aromatic red wine with a bit of rose and spice fragrance,” he says. “Some producers also lean into whole cluster fermentations, which pushes the ‘pinot-esque’ profile forward even more.”

Pinot Noir is one of the most widely grown grapes around the globe, so opportunities abound to find one that can take the place of a bottle from Burgundy. “As you know, it’s hard to get a Burg-hound off the scent, but we’ve found a few strategies that help,” Zach Kameron, corporate beverage director at RHC, which operates Peak in Hudson Yards, tells us. He is a fan of Pinot Nero (the variety’s Italian name) from Alto Adige, and he likes the single-vineyard bottlings put out by Manincor. Walton prefers Pinot from the other side of the Alps in Austria, where it goes by the name Spätburgunder; she says guests at Manhatta are always pleased with the bottles she carries made by Wasenhaus. And staying in France, Carrie Lyn Strong, a consultant and wine educator who helps restaurants shape their lists, often recommends Pinot Noir from Alsace, which is much better known for its Riesling and other aromatic white varieties. “Pinot Noir from Alsace is light and lively with good acidity and fruit structure,” she tells us, and explains that the elevation of two specified terroirs to Grand Cru status in 2022 has thrown a spotlight on the region’s reds, which make up only about 10 percent of its output.

On the white side, both Kameron and Boland brought up the idea of moving past the Premier Cru and Grand Cru selections while sticking within Burgundy itself. Kameron’s strategy involves looking at appellation village wines or those from the southernmost district of Burgundy, the Mâconnais, adding that it “offers some amazing values.” He points to well-known producers such as Comte Lafon, Domaine Leflaive, and Domaine de Villaine whose bottles from here can be had for $100 or so on a New York list. Boland suggests the Mâconnais as well, but also included the Hautes-Côtes de Beaune and Côte Chalonnaise for accessible choices within Burgundy proper. Farther afield, he also advocates for Saumur Blanc from the Loire Valley, made with Chenin Blanc. “Producers like Arnaud Lambert and Guiberteau have a defined chalky minerality and texture that can be reminiscent of Burgundy,” he says. “Plus, they’re readily available and inexpensive.”

The growing fashionableness of Sauvignon Blanc has one sommelier thinking about white Bordeaux. Andrea Morris, beverage director at Essential by Christophe on the Upper West Side, has noticed that for the first time in her career, Bordeaux Blanc is flying out of the cellar. “I think this is likely due to the skyrocketing price of white Burgundy, plus the popularity of Sauvignon Blanc,” Morris says. “White Bordeaux kind of combines these two worlds while also doing its own thing.”

However, diehard Chardonnay fans may find that in addition to Sonoma and Oregon, IGT Toscana Chardonnay, from Tuscany, satisfies their palate. It’s got the apple and citrus flavors, judicious touch of oak, and mineral-driven finish that many of us crave. White Rioja can also do the trick, especially those made with 100 percent Viura, which has a similar flavor profile and nice acidity. Reserva versions spend six months in oak before release, so the fruit shines through, but you still get the vanilla notes that we go for. One of the things that excites us about searching for options within any category is all the paths it can take us down. Even if the original motive was finding a more affordable pour, paging through a wine list in search of options provides an opportunity to discover something new, intriguing, and, most of all, delicious.

Do you want access to rare and outstanding reds from Napa Valley? Join the Robb Report 672 Wine Club today.


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Burgundy Prices Are Soaring—Here Are Other Excellent Wines to Drink Instead (2024)


Why is Burgundy wine so expensive? ›

This combination of factors, limitations to growth in vine acreage and relative scarcity on the market, as well as Burgundy's growing reputation on the world's stage means that there is simply not enough of it to satisfy the world's growing demands.

What is a cheap Burgundy wine? ›

Officially established in 1998, Bouzeron is a relatively young AOC for Burgundy. But its under-the-radar status is all the better for fans of light, vivacious whites — excellent Bouzeron can easily be found for under $30! Seek out Burgundy wine brands Domaine A. et P. de Villaine, Domaine Faiveley, and Domaine Ramonet.

Why is Burgundy wine so special? ›

What makes both Burgundian wines so special, is that Burgundy, more than probably any other wine region in the world, is completely influenced by its terroir. Terroir is a sense of place, it means that when you drink a wine, you completely taste the region where the wine was made.

What Burgundy to buy? ›

St Véran, Viré-Clessé and Pouilly-Fuissé are superior appellations of higher quality. The Côte D'Or is situated geographically and stylistically between Chablis and the Mâconnais and produces some of the greatest wines in the world. They exhibit a pleasing tension between richness and freshness.

Which is the most expensive Burgundy wine? ›

1. Domaine de la Romanee-Conti Grand Cru 1945 - $558,000. This wine is a burgundy hailing from Domaine Romanee-Conti in France. Its staggering price comes from the exceptional circ*mstances under which it was made.

What is the most expensive red wine to drink? ›

These are the most expensive red wines in the world today
  • Screaming Eagle Cabernet 1992, California, $500,000 (approximately £416,000)
  • Cheval Blanc 1947 St Emilion, Bordeaux, $135,125 (approximately £112,000)
  • Penfolds Grange Hermitage 1951, Australia, $38,420 (approximately £32,000)

What is the American equivalent of Burgundy wine? ›

The terms actually overlap quite a bit—Pinot Noir is the primary red wine grape grown in Burgundy, so if someone's referring to a red Burgundy, they are talking about a Pinot Noir.

What is the best Burgundy wine for aging? ›

Chambertin, Clos Vougeot, Corton, Montrachet… these names that make wine lovers dream! These rare wines come from the best terroirs and have the longest aging potential. The grapes from these legendary terroirs are located on the slopes of the Burgundian hills: draining soils with a clay-limestone composition.

What is Burgundy called now? ›

It is now part of the administrative region of Bourgogne-Franche-Comté. It was also a historic region in eastern France. The French adjective and name of the inhabitants of the region is Bourguignon.

What color pairs best with Burgundy? ›

Burgundy works well with shades of gray, such as light gray or charcoal gray. It also pairs beautifully with turquoise, golden yellow, and umber.

What is the most famous vineyard in Burgundy? ›

Gevrey Chambertin, its castle, its village and its winegrowers. With over 310 hectares of prime hillside real estate, the Gevrey-Chambertin vineyard is one of the most prestigious in Burgundy, producing 9 of the 33 Burgundy AOC Grands Crus.

Is Burgundy wine worth it? ›

Is There Still Value to Be Found in Burgundy? Mediageneity and marketability aside, Burgundy wine also just so happens to be really good. All those tiny plots, renowned soils, long traditions, and strict regulations produce distinctive bottles.

Why is Burgundy more expensive than Bordeaux? ›

Bordeaux, with its sprawling châteaux, massive vineyards and thousands of producers, favours plentitude (although the top chateaux are harder to come by). Burgundian wines are significantly rarer than their southerly cousins due to the drastically smaller amount of land set aside for grape cultivation.

What makes Burgundy special? ›

Of course, the most defining tasting characteristic of each Burgundy is its terroir — the unique geography where it was grown and produced. Minerality is a recently developed term that refers to flavors that are not quite fruit flavors, not quite herbal flavors, and not quite spice flavors.

Will Burgundy prices drop? ›

Burgundy prices will fall, says regional head

Along with a generous yield in 2022 (1.7 million hectoliters), the two latest vintages will go some way to counterbalancing the meagre three interim years, particularly the frost-affected 2021 harvest, which produced just under one million hectoliters.


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