Wine-growing region Burgundy
The Burgundy wine region developed between the Rhône valley and the Paris basin along a busy trade route that has connected the Mediterranean with northern Europe since ancient times. The carefully cultivated mosaic of more than 1,200 climats between Dijon and Beaune, which has remained practically unchanged for centuries, has been included in the UNESCO World Heritage List since 2015.
The great wine regions of Burgundy and their wine styles
Bourgogne (excluding Beaujolais) produces mainly white wines. 48 percent of the vineyard area is planted with Chardonnay, 6 percent with Aligoté, 34 percent with Pinot Noir and 10 percent with Gamay; the rest is shared by Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, César and a few others. The undisputed stars of the vineyards in northern Burgundy are the white Chardonnay grape and the red Pinot Noir, the other varieties are more prominent further south.
The predominantly continental climate of Burgundy is modified by both Atlantic and Mediterranean air currents. Rather cold winters with occasional late frosts are followed by short, quite mild summers with moderate sunshine intensity. The robust Chardonnay grape can adapt well to different climatic and soil conditions and is vinified to the highest quality, especially in Chablis and on the Côte d'Or. Pinot Noir also prefers cooler regions, but reacts much more sensitively to different site conditions.
Similar to the neighbouring Champagne, calcareous soils characterise the large slopes of Burgundy's northernmost region. Chablis produces almost exclusively dry Chardonnay wines with mineral accents, including the Chablis Grand Cru Les Preuses AOC from the Domaine William Fèvre.
The Climats of the Côte d'Or - Côte de Nuits and Côte de Beaune
The more than 30 Grands Crus of the Côte d'Or include some of the most famous vineyards in the world - including Romanée-Conti, Clos de Vougeot and Chambertin on the Côte de Nuits, and Corton and Montrachet on the Côte d'Or, to name but a few. The well over 370 Grand Crus and Premiers Crus in the heart of Burgundy are exclusively stocked with Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. They consist of well over 1,000 precisely delimited plots of land, known in French as "Climats". The winemaking culture of Burgundy requires that the microclimate and geological characteristics of each Climats - sometimes only a few square metres or one or two rows of vines - be taken into account in the cultivation, care and vinification of the vines. The unique mosaic of vineyard parcels on the eastern slopes of the Côte d'Or has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2015.
Côte Chalonnaise and Mâconnais
Both wine regions are known for fruity, light Chardonnays. From the Côte Chalonnaise comes a robust, full-bodied Pinot Noir (especially in comparison with the elegant plants of the Côte d'Or). The Mâconnais also cultivates the red grape variety Gamay.
Interesting facts about Burgundy
How to decipher the AOC structure of Burgundy?
"Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée" (short AOC or AC) is a designation of origin awarded and controlled by the French state. It defines regional boundaries and quality and production standards for certain agricultural products.
The AOC quality levels in Burgundy:
The approximately 40 world-famous Burgundy appellations with the Grand Cru seal are found exclusively in the Chablis and on the Côte d'Or. They denote carefully cultivated hillside locations with the best climatic and geological conditions. Excellent examples of Grand Cru sites are the Montrachet Grand Cru (Louis Jadot) and the Echezeaux Grand Cru AOC (Domaine des Perdrix).
More than 550 vineyards in Burgundy are classified in the second highest quality category. The Premier Cru classification does not necessarily mean a lower quality compared to Grand Cru; some Premier Cru sites such as Nuits Saint Georges 1er Cru are considered by wine lovers and connoisseurs to be at least equal.
While Grands and Premier Crus often bear only the name of the location on the label, the 44 Appellations Village in Burgundy are identified by the name of the place of origin. Municipal wines mostly come from the plain or from climatically less well aligned hillside sites.
AOC Régionales and other AOC
The general appellations, which do not define a specific location, but in particular grape varieties and maximum permitted yields, include Bourgogne, Bourgogne Passetoutgrains, Bourgogne Aligoté, Bourgogne (Grand) Ordinaire and Crémant de Bourgogne, as well as the more narrowly defined AOC Bourgogne Hautes Côtes de Beaune, Bourgogne Haute Côtes de Nuits, Bourgogne Côte Chalonnaise and Bourgogne Côtes d'Auxerre.
What does the "Clos" on the label of many Burgundy wines mean?
Clos are vineyards enclosed by a wall, often owned by monasteries. The Climat Le Clos de Vougeot, for example, planted with Pinot Noir, originally belonged to the Cistercian monks of Vougeot, is classified as a Grand Cru and has its own appellation.
What distinguishes a Crémant de Bourgogne from champagne?
"Champagne" can only be called sparkling wine from the AOC Champagne. Crémant de Bourgogne is also produced according to the Méthode traditonelle in the Départments Yonne, Côte d'Or, Saône-et-Loire and Rhône, but in a less complex process. The most important difference, however, is the wider range of grape varieties approved for Crémant: While only Chardonnay, Pinot Meunier and Pinot Noir may be used to produce Champagne, the highest quality Crémant de Bourgogne may also use Pinot Gris in addition to these grape varieties. For Crémant's second class in Burgundy, Gamay, Aligoté, Melon and Sacy are added.
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