Vintages - Burgundy’s Wines, Grapes & Growing Areas

The Burgundy Beat

Burgundy’s wines, grapes and growing areas 
(3 min. read)

The ancestral home of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, Burgundy is not only one of the oldest and most important of wine regions but also one of the finest. Burgundy’s food-friendly, handcrafted wines have set the benchmark for true provenance, but that doesn’t mean they’re for collectors and connoisseurs alone.

Burgundy Basics

Long and thin, Burgundy is situated in the east-central part of France. 

The region stretches about 300 kilometres, as the crow flies, from its northernmost growing area, Chablis (about 160 kilometres from Paris), to its southernmost growing area, Mâconnais. Chablis is cooler than the rest of Burgundy, and Chardonnay here is planted in Kimmeridgian limestone soils that have a high percentage of fossilized sea life, which imparts a distinct saline minerality to the wines. Fresh and bright with a bracingly crisp acidity, Chablis is rarely raised in oak and is strikingly different from Chardonnays grown in the rest of Burgundy, many of which are creamy and rich with significant oak influence.

It’s true that Burgundy is home to many of the world’s most expensive wines, but there is also affordable Burgundy, wines that reflect the essence of this famous terroir. The noble character of its soils can be found in wines across the price spectrum.

The vast majority of Burgundy’s wines come from a 120- kilometre section roughly in the region’s middle that’s known as the Côte d’Or.  

The vines here are planted on slopes and face east or southeast, and virtually every tract of land in the region has been graded and ranked in terms of quality wine production. The Côte d’Or is divided into four main growing areas: Côte de Nuits, Côte de Beaune, Côte Chalonnaise and Mâconnais. These areas all have individual villages and vineyards of renown. The nuanced variations between parcels of land results in a broad range of expression and variation in the wines, and it’s these precise articulations of terroir that have seen Burgundy’s Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays become so prized. While Chardonnay and Pinot Noir are the principal grapes of Burgundy, nuanced, characterful Gamay and Aligoté are also made.

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