France | Burgundy

The wine region of Burgundy provides a multitude of different appellations and vineyards split between numerous individual owners, each with varying degrees of competence and experience. Thus buying and enjoying Burgundy can appear to be a complex and exasperating process for wine consumers. However, for fervent admirers of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, this slender thirty mile-long strip of vines is the centre of the universe. It is the pinnacle of interaction between man and terroir: a complex sequence of soils and slopes, auspiciously oriented east and southeast, observed and mapped over centuries. The demarcation of the thirty-one grands crus, 560-odd premiers crus and numerous village lieu-dit vineyards is one of the towering achievements within wine culture. With a new generation of widely travelled, inquiring sons and daughters taking on winemaking duties, and typically only one duff vintage a decade, finer burgundy is being produced now than ever before.

The wines from Burgundy are made almost exclusively from single grape varieties and the vast majority you will likely encounter from this region are made from one of four key grape varieties; Pinot Noir and Gamay for red wines, and for white wines, Chardonnay and Aligoté.

Pinot Noir is the noble red wine grape variety that is grown throughout the region (with the exception of Beaujolais, where it is the Gamay grape that thrives) and whilst well-made good value red wines can be found in the Côte Chalonnaise (Mercurey & Givry), the greatest red wines of Burgundy are to be found in the districts of the Côte d’Or: Côte de Nuits and Côte de Beaune.

Although both Côtes make excellent red and white wines it is worth remembering that most of the greatest red Burgundies come from the Côte de Nuits, whilst most of the greatest white Burgundies come from the Côte de Beaune.

Chardonnay is arguably the world’s most famous white grape variety and it provides all the great white wines of Burgundy. The characteristics of this noble grape vary dramatically as you explore the Burgundy region ranging in style from the steely, crisp Chablis (often made in stainless steel to preserve freshness) in the north, via the fabulously complex, expressive wines of the Côte d’Or, to the fruitier and more full-bodied wines of the Mâconnais in the south.

Aligoté is grown for making Bourgogne Aligoté and the production of sparkling wines, the quality of which has vastly improved in recent years and some very good wines are now being made using this variety.


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