Burgundy, or Bourgogne in French, is famous for its red wines made from Pinot Noir and its white wines made from Chardonnay.
The most famous part of Burgundy is known as the Côte d’Or which is divided into two regions – Côte de Nuits and Côte de Beaune.
Chablis, to the north of the Côte d’Or, also officially part of Burgundy as are the Côte Chalonnais and the Mâconnais to the south.
Beaujolais is sometimes considered part of Burgundy but should really be treated separately.
The Wines of Burgundy
The wines of Burgundy are made up of:
61% white wines
30% red wines
8% Crémant de Bourgogne
1% rosé wines
The Grapes of Burgundy
White wines are mostly made from Chardonnay. However, there are some wines made from Aligoté.
Red wines are made from Pinot Noir.
Crémant de Bourgogne, sparkling wine from Burgundy, is made from either a single grape variety or a combination. The grapes used include Chardonnay, Aligoté, Pinot Noir and Gamay.
The Classifications of Burgundy
Burgundy has a very strict classification system based on the appellation. The classification is based on the location of the plot and a range of local conditions including soil composition and aspect.
A “climat” is a term used in Burgundy to designate a particular vineyard plot or parcel which has distinguishing traits.
There are four levels of classification:
Premier Cru appellation
Grand Cru appellation
Wines from this level of appellation can be drawn from a single parcel or a range of parcels across the entire region or Bourgogne.
These are often labelled as: Bourgogne Chardonnay or Bourgogne Pinot Noir.
Wines from this level of appellation are drawn from classified regional parcels of wine and these will have a village name. In some cases, there will also be a specified “climat”.
Examples of this classification are: Puligny-Montrachet, Chablis, Chambolle-Musigny, Nuits-St-Georges “Bas de Combe”.
Premier Cru Appellation
Wines from this level of appellation are drawn “climats” that have been designated as Premier Cru. These usually, but not always, have the name of the climat on the label.
Examples of this classification are: Chablis 1er Cru “Montmains”, Beaune 1er Cru “Les Grèves”.
Grand Cru Appellation
Wines from this level of appellation are the most illustrious and most expensive in Burgundy. This is the highest ranking of the defined appellations and they are named with only the climat of the appellation. There are 32 Grand Crus in the Côte d’Or.Examples of this classification are Chambertin and Montrachet