The Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée, the governing system that controls the hierarchy of vineyards in Burgundy, may seem immutable. But in fact, it was only established in 1936, and in the region’s 1,600-year history of producing wine, there were other opinions on which plots of ground produce the finest juice.
Last year, Charles Curtis published a deep historical exploration of the region in his book, The Original Grand Crus of Burgundy. Using texts dating to 1728, most of which had never been translated into English, Curtis identified vineyard sites that once sat at the top of the region’s ranking but now languish on its periphery. Today, younger winemakers are putting attention into these less respected vineyards and bringing them back to their true potential—and for collectors who want to look beyond the famous grand crus, Curtis’s book serves as a guide to hidden gems.
The wine world may be intensely hierarchical, but things change.