A British-born friend in his 70s remembers a time when high quality red Burgundy was commonly found on the tables of clergymen, schoolteachers, and other folk of quite modest means in his postwar Liverpool. It seems amazing that wines now so sought after could once have provided everyday enjoyment for ordinary middle-class people, but so it was.
Today, whether at the village or cru level, wine from Burgundy’s prestige core (the narrow chain of east-facing slopes that run almost due north-south from Dijon to around Chagny, known as the Cote d’Or), can be very expensive indeed. Bottles from top villages are typically priced from $45 to $60; premier crus from $60 to $90; grand crus start at around $100 and ascend to dizzying heights. Does the experience justify such rarified prices? You’ll have to ask the people who pursue them. For some, Burgundy isn’t just wine, it’s both an aesthetic and a kind of high moral principle.