February 28, 2023
Main theme: Burgundy
Burgundy is one of the most famous wine regions. A wine region known for its elegant wines, but also for one of the most expensive wines, such as Romanée-conti. The Burgundy wine region is also known for labels without grape varieties, this is very normal for every wine connoisseur. There is a lot of theory and topography behind French wines, we try to help you on your way in this blog.
The grape varieties in Burgundy
The grape varieties are rarely mentioned on the labels of wines from Burgundy. If it is not stated on it, the white wines are made from chardonnay and the red wines of pinot noir. Given the location of Burgundy, no chardonnay is the same. In the north they are very fresh and in the south they are greasy.
But more grape varieties have been planted, for example aligoté. Aligoté can be recognized on the label as AOC Bourgonge Aligoté. Alicoté can give very nice mature wines, but the best vineyard spots are already taken for chardonnay and pinot noir, so you will never encounter the very complex Aligoté wine. They are often fresh, tight wines.
At the bottom of Burgundy we have the Beaujolais, this area is known for its gamay wines. The grape Gamay gives young drinkable wines. One of the best known is the Beaujolais scoop, this wine is released on the third Thursday of November. This is the first wine from the new harvest, a cause for celebration in France.
Origin of names in Burgundy
Burgundy has 100 designations of origin, which are spread over 5 large areas, divided into 4 categories. There are 4 quality categories in Bourgogne: AOC Bourgogne, Appellations villages, Premier Crus, Grand Crus
These are wines with only Burgundy on the label. They have both Bourgogne blanc and Bourgogne rouge. These are the cheaper Bourgognes from the supermarket. The grapes for these wines do not have to come from one vineyard, they can come from all over the region. They are not the most special wines like many other Bourgognes. They are lighter in taste and not super complex, just good for a drink. The well-known crémant de Bourgogne is also one of the AOC de Bourgognes.
These wines are a step better than the AOC Bourgogne. They are also more complex in taste. you can recognize them by the label, because the label states "the villages". There are a total of 44 appellations villages that fall under these classes. Well-known villages are, for example, villages such as Meursault and Pouilly-Fuissé.
On the better Village wines you will also find the vineyard mentioned. In Burgundy it is still about the vineyard itself.
Prime Minister Cruc
A premier cru can be recognized by the label, there is an appellation and a vineyard on the label. Premier cru is also mentioned on the label. In Burgundy, there are more than 600 vineyards with premier cru status. Premier cru wines are more complex and have a nicer taste.
In addition to grand cru, the vineyards of the grand cru are also listed on the label. There are 33 grand cru vineyards. most of which in the Côte d'Or and one in the Chablis. The best grapes come from the grand cru vineyards, which makes the wines a lot more complex. Grand cru wines are 1% of the total Burgundy production, the scarcity is therefore one of the price drivers of these wines. The most expensive wines in Burgundy come from the grand crus.
The areas in the Burgundy wine region
Burgundy has a rich terroir, we mean the different climates and soils. The Burgundy region is an elongated region with large climate differences between north and south. The wine regions in the north make completely different wines than in the south. The 5 major areas are:
Chablis is the most northerly. There used to be a sea where the vines are now planted. All vines are therefore on a soil full of fossil shellfish, which ensures a soil full of lime and minerals. The best vineyards are planted here on hills towards the sun. Chablis wines are fresh wines, often only aged on stainless steel. The wines are minerally and therefore combine wonderfully with oysters. Chablis is also known as oyster water.
In the chablis you also have the name Petit Chablis, these are the wines from less good vineyards.
The Côte d'Or is the heart of Burgundy divided into two areas, Côte de Nuit and Côte de Beaune. The Côte d'Or starts just below Dijon, an 8-hour drive from Amsterdam. Both red and white wines are made here. The vineyards are located on sunny hills and the hills form a natural barrier against the rain from the west. The following villages are definitely worth a taste!
For the Cote de Nuits the following villages are the most important: Gevrey-Chambertin, Vougeot, Vosne-Romanée and Nuits-Saint-Georges.
For the Cote de Beaune the following villages are the most important: Aloxe-Corton, Pommard, Beaune, Volnay, Meursault, Puligny-Montrachet and Chassagne-Montrachet.
Of this list, Pommard and Volnay are known for their red wines, the other villages make both white and red wines. Meursault, Puligny-Montrachet, Chassagne-Montrachet are best known for their full-bodied white wines. The latter two share Montrachet's grand-cru status. Both the full fat chardonnay and the full but round pinot noir from these villages are worth a try!
A little further south is the Chalonnaise. It is located further south but is not warmer, this is due to the hilly landscape. This means that the vineyards are of slightly lower quality than the Côte d'Or. The Côte Chalonnaise has 4 villages that can be named. They are known for red and white wines but also for the bubbles: Rully, Mercurey, Givry and Montagny.
Much further south we find the Mâconnais. Here the chardonnay grape is dominant. The landscape becomes calmer and the climate is mild. This is ideal for full-bodied chardonnay wines, many of these chardonnay wines are also aged in wood. Well-known villages with quality wines are: Macon, Macon villages, Pouilly-Fuissé and Saint-Véran.
Beaujolais is the largest wine region in Burgundy, which is why it is often seen as a separate area. In Beaujolais, the blue gamay grape is dominant. Gamay is often drunk as a young wine, but is also the ideal grape for aging in the bottle (except of course the Beaujolais nouveau). As the wine ages in the bottle, it becomes more complex in taste. The best wines come from the following crus: Brouilly, Morgon, Fleurie and Moulin-á-vent.
Wine and food with red and white wines from Burgundy
A true Burgundian enjoys life and that goes with both a glass of wine and a tasty dish. Now that you know how to recognize the best Bourgognes, it is of course nice to combine them with a matching dish. Burgundy is known for its delicious cuisine, many of these dishes are made in combination with wine. Some well-known examples are bœuf Bourguignon or coq au vin. But don't forget the famous escargot of Burgundy, stewed in garlic butter or of course in wine.
Top sommelier Noël Vanwittenbergh will tell you about the fascinating wine and food combinations with various wines from Burgundy this evening.