Burgundy is the most complex and difficult wine region to understand, and even after years of study, it can still be confusing. You’d hear people say they pay a high price for their Burgundy wine only to be disappointed, while many others agree that the best wines they’ve ever tasted come from Burgundy. If you are looking for the best wines for investment, you’d naturally want to learn more about Burgundy and its wines.
Here, we’ll try to make sense of this famous wine region:
The Grapes You’ll Find in Burgundy
Burgundy is world-renowned for its Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes, but a wide variety of grapes are grown in this French region. In addition to the two most famous grapes, you’ll also find Gamay, Aligoté, Pinot Blanc, and Sauvignon Blanc in Burgundy.
- Pinot Noir is the most planted grape in Burgundy and is responsible for some of the region’s most famous wines. The grape thrives in Burgundy’s climate and soil, producing complex and elegant wines.
- Chardonnay is the second most planted variant of grape in Burgundy and also produces some of the region’s most beloved wines. Chardonnay wines from Burgundy tend to be rich and buttery, with a beautiful minerality.
- Gamay is a grape often associated with Beaujolais, but it is also grown in Burgundy. Gamay wines are typically lighter and more fruit-forward than Pinot Noir wines.
- Aligoté is another grape typically associated with Beaujolais, but it is also grown in Burgundy. Aligoté wines are typically crisp and refreshing, making them perfect for summertime sipping.
- Pinot Blanc is a white grape that is sometimes used in the production of Champagne. In Burgundy, Pinot Blanc wines are typically dry and full-bodied, with a beautiful minerality.
- Sauvignon Blanc is a white grape most commonly associated with the Loire Valley. In Burgundy, Sauvignon Blanc wines tend to be more restrained and elegant than their Loire Valley counterparts.
Main Wine Regions in Burgundy
Burgundy is among the most popular wine regions in the world, known for its high-quality Pinot Noir and Chardonnay wines. The region is located in eastern France, in the Côte d’Or department.
The Burgundy wine region is divided into four main sub-regions: the Côte de Nuits, the Côte de Beaune, the Côte Chalonnaise, and the Mâconnais. Each of these sub-regions produces wines with distinctive flavour and character.
Côte de Nuits
The Côte de Nuits is the northernmost sub-region of Burgundy and is home to some of the most well-known and most prestigious vineyards in the region, such as the Grand Cru vineyards of Vosne-Romanée as well as Nuits-Saint-Georges. The wines of the Côte de Nuits are typically rich and full-bodied, with flavors of black cherries, strawberries, and spice.
Côte de Beaune
The Côte de Beaune is the southernmost sub-region of Burgundy and is known for its exemplary white wines, made from the Chardonnay grape. The Côte de Beaune also produces some red wines from the Pinot Noir grape. The wines of the Côte de Beaune are typically more delicate and elegant than the wines of the Côte de Nuits, with flavors of citrus, apples, and flowers.
The Côte Chalonnaise is a small sub-region between the Côte de Nuits and the Côte de Beaune. The wines of the Côte Chalonnaise are typically lighter and more fruit-forward than the wines of the Côte de Nuits and the Côte de Beaune.
The Mâconnais is the largest sub-region of Burgundy and is located in the southern part of the region. The Mâconnais is known for its white wines, made from the Chardonnay grape. The wines of the Mâconnais are typically fresh and lively, with citrus and stone fruits flavours.
The Classification System of Burgundy
The Classification System of Burgundy is a wine classification system used in the Burgundy wine region of France. The system is based on the Appellation d’origine contrôlée (AOC) classification system but has some critical differences.
The classification system of Burgundy was created in the early 20th century by the Burgundy Wine growers’ Association to protect the reputation of Burgundy wines. The system classifies wines into four categories based on their quality and production methods.
The four categories are:
Grand Cru: The highest quality category, representing less than 5% of the total production of Burgundy wines. Wines in this category are typically made from grapes grown in the best vineyards and are subject to the most stringent production standards.
Premier Cru: The second highest quality category, representing 20% of the total production of Burgundy wines. Wines in this category are made from grapes grown in very good vineyards and are subject to stricter production standards than wines in the lower categories.
Village: The third quality category, representing 75% of the total production of Burgundy wines. Wines in this category are made from grapes grown in any of the villages in the Burgundy region.
Regional: The lowest quality category, representing 5% of the total production of Burgundy wines. Wines in this category are made from grapes grown in any region of France and are subject to the least stringent production standards.
The classification system of Burgundy is not static, and wines can be moved up or down in classification based on changes in quality. For example, a wine downgraded from village to regional level may no longer be labelled with the name of the village where the grapes were grown.
The classification system of Burgundy has been criticized for being too rigid and inflexible and for not taking into account the quality of the wine-making process. Nevertheless, it remains the most important factor in determining the price of Burgundy wines.
Complex or Not, Still the Most Sought-After Wines
Burgundy wine is some of the most highly prized and sought-after wines for investment in the world. But it cannot be denied that Burgundy is also among the most complicated wine regions. There are confusing rules and regulations governing what can and cannot be called Burgundy wine, and even the most experienced wine lovers can find themselves scratching their heads when trying to navigate the region’s wines.
But now that you know the basics of Burgundy wine, you’re well on your way to becoming a Burgundy expert.
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