What is a Burgundy Wine - the Ultimate Guide

What is a Burgundy Wine? – the Ultimate Guide

Want to add some Burgundy wines to your collection, but are a little put off by its ostensibly complex appellations and vineyards? Although Burgundy produces some of the best (and most expensive) wines in the world, there are also many delicious and reasonably priced options. Before we go shopping, let’s learn some fundamentals about Burgundy.

Burgundy wine is made in Eastern France’s Burgundy region is located on the slopes and valleys west of the Saône, a river that flows into the Rhône. The most famous wines produced here, and those commonly referred to as “Burgundies,” are dry red wines made from pinot noir grapes and white wines made from chardonnay grapes.

To learn more, keep reading.

Burgundy Wine Classifications

By comprehending how the wines are categorized, you can find Burgundy Pinot Noir and Chardonnay of higher quality. There are over 100 “appellations,” or approved wine growing areas, and these are divided into 4 levels of quality.

  • 1% Grand Cru(e.g. Grands-Echezeaux, Montrachet, and other wines from Burgundy’s best climats. About 60% of the Pinot Noir produced in the Côte d’Or comes from the 33 Grand Crus.
  • 10% Premier Cru(e.g. Vosne Romanée 1er Cru) Wines from exceptional climats in Burgundy. Burgundy has 640 Premier Cru plots.
  • 37% Village WinesBurgundy-produced wines from a village or commune. There are 44 villages total, including Mâcon-Villages, Nuits-St-Georges, and Chablis.
  • 52% Regional Wines(e.g. Crémant de Bourgogne, Bourgogne Rouge, etc) Wines from overarching Bourgogne
What is a Burgundy Wine - the Ultimate Guide
What is a Burgundy Wine? – the Ultimate Guide

Why Should You Drink Burgundy Wine?

The reds and whites of Burgundy should be at the top of your list if you enjoy wine that elegantly and clearly conveys the region it is from. Burgundy is a region whose magic can be experienced through Pinot Noir or Chardonnay in gratifying and fascinating ways.

In the north of the region, the crisp, mineral wines of Chablis utilize the Chardonnay grape variety to express the characteristics of the land through wines with coiled energy and frequently briny acidity. Contrary to popular belief, oak is much less frequent here than it is with Chardonnay. On the other hand, Chardonnay can develop a richer, denser personality in the Côte de Beaune thanks to the great wines of Meursault and Montrachet. There, the terroir’s characteristics and barrel aging give it the richness, plusher textures, and spice notes that mellow out beautifully over time. The story of the land can be revealed through the wine in the glass in a similar way with pinot noir. Red Burgundy wines have the capacity to express the entire flavor, aroma, and texture spectrum, whether it’s the sophistication of the Volnay village wines or the lingering strength of the Richebourg vineyard.

Additionally, they are very helpful at the table because both red and white wines from Burgundy can be light and vivacious or dense and more propulsional, focusing primarily on the fruit or influenced by a greater sense of spice, flowers, and savoriness. As a result, whether you serve a hearty meal or something lighter, there is probably a Burgundy wine to go with it.

Additionally, the best red and white Burgundy wines are among the most sought-after wines in the world. Despite recent price increases on the best examples, less well-known regions of Burgundy, such as Fixin, Santenay, and other places, still offer good values.

What Does Burgundy Taste Like?

The best red and white Burgundy wines, even though they may be more focused on the fruity or savory end of the continuum, on crisp minerality, on perfumed floral notes, or on earthy hints of forest floor and mushrooms, tend to maintain a sense of balance. Even oak-aged white Burgundies aren’t usually defined by their time in barrels; rather, they’re just informed by it. In other words, even in more potent vintages, Burgundy is typically associated with sophistication and a focus on the terroir.

What is a Burgundy Wine - the Ultimate Guide
What is a Burgundy Wine? – the Ultimate Guide

Five Great Burgundy Wines

There are a ton of fantastic Burgundy wines available right now. These five producers are a great place to start learning about all that Burgundy has to offer; they are listed alphabetically and come highly recommended by renowned wine experts Alicia Towns Franken and DLynn Proctor.

Domaine Comte Georges De Vogüé

The Domaine Comte Georges de Vogüé produces an array of exceptional wines that are staples of collections and auction houses all over the world, but it is most well-known for its Grand Cru bottlings of Le Musigny and Bonnes-Mares.

Domaine De La Romanée-Conti

DRC, as it is affectionately referred to by its admirers, is arguably the most well-known domaine in Burgundy and one of the most prestigious in the entire world. It is the source of legendary Pinot Noir expressions from La Tâche, Richebourg, and Romanée-Conti, among others.

Domaine Georges Roumier

Roumier occupies a position at the top of Burgundy, despite being young by Burgundy standards; its origins date back to 1924. Along with exceptional Premier Cru bottlings from Chambolle-Musigny, Roumier also creates Grand Crus from Musigny, Bonnes-Mares, Corton-Charlemagne, and other vineyards.

Domaine Méo Camuzet

Domaine Méo-Camuzet offers a wide range of wines, from Bourgogne Rouge to Grand Crus like Richebourg, Échezeaux, and more.

Domaine Thibault Liger-Belair

The domaine creates Grand Crus from Richebourg and Clos-Vougeot in addition to more approachable wines from the Hautes-Côtes de Nuits and even a Bourgogne Aligoté.

A Brief History of Burgundy Wine

The area was once a vast tropical sea about 200 million years ago. The seabed was turned into limestone soils over time. Burgundy wines are known for their zesty minerality, which is a result of these soils. If you go into the vineyards, you can find limestone or marl (limestone mixed with clay) pieces that have fascinating fossilized sea life in them.

Although winemaking dates back to the Romans in the first century AD, it was Catholic monks who really started the vineyards in the Middle Ages. These people produced the grapes used by the cathedral and the affluent Dukes of Burgundy. The French Revolution gave the vineyards back to the people, who today take pride in their ties to the land. Organic and bio-dynamic viticulture and winemaking have expanded as a result of the personal connection to the land.

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Burgundy is wine that is made in the Burgundy region of eastern France using 100% Pinot Noir grapes. Yes, Pinot Noir is all that red Burgundy is. White Burgundy is also made in Burgundy, but, since it is white, it is made from 100% Chardonnay grapes. Really straightforward, wouldn’t you say?

We must remember that despite all of these classifications that these are still wines produced in one of the best wine regions in the entire world, even at the lowest Regional level. No matter what level you purchase, red and white Burgundies are the wines that made Pinot Noir and Chardonnay famous, and they are both deserving of enjoyment.

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