French law sometimes specifies even the size of typefaces, relative to each other on the label. (photo by Renee Wilmeth for Wine and Whiskey Globe)

Here’s a deconstruction of the front of a delicious French wine—with a less elaborate label than many. The principles here apply broadly.

Et voila! From top to bottom:

Grand Vin de Bourgogne

This means the wine is a Burgundy, or rather from the Burgundy region which in French is always “Bourgogne.” Any wine from Burgundy can include this phrase on the label. By definition, if this is red, it will be 100% pinot noir.


In some wine regions, there are strict regulations about the type size on the label for the area where the wine came from versus the vineyard versus the winemaker. In Burgundy, the appellation—the place of origin—is the most important thing to know about the wine. Gevrey-Chambertin is the largest appellation in the Côte du Nuit (the part of Burgundy north of Beaune).

Mes Favorites

While not a specific vineyard, this is the name of a specific wine this particular domaine bottles every year. It’s a blend of the best grapes from the oldest vines from village-level plots. Some producers in Burgundy name special wines they produce every year even when they’re not from a particular vineyard.

Vielles Vignes

Literally “old vines,” this is a designation some domaines use for wines made from grapes from, well, really old vines (usually 60-70 years old or more.)


The 2009 vintage—the year the grapes were grown and harvested—was generally good for reds from the Côte du Nuits producing wines that needed some age to show best.

Alain Burguet

This is the name of the domaine—that is, essentially, the house. Messr. Burguet has been a winemaker in Gevrey-Chambertin since the 1970s but is now retired. The domaine is now run by his sons, winemakers Jean-Luc and Eric, who say that Alain plays a lot of golf. And cheers to that.