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.
Burgundy offers a rich diversity of wine for the enthusiastic consumer to sample, experiment and enjoy, producing as it does some of the world’s most exhilarating red and white wines; however, to help you identify with the region in greater detail we have highlighted some key aspects which we hope may assist you in your decision making process.
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 classic black 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 Mâcon 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.