Burgundy

The Burgundy wine region in central-eastern France, near the city of Dijon, is built on centuries of winemaking tradition, with close historical links to the monasteries. Burgundy’s patchwork quilt of vineyards and associated terroirs – or ‘climats‘ – gained UNESCO world heritage status in July 2015.

Burgundy wines come from several distinct sub-regions, each with its own particular character. Four of these are located at the heart of Burgundy, in a narrow strip running for 75 miles (120km) between the towns of Dijon and Macon. From north to south they are the Cote d'Or (comprising the Cote de Nuits and Cote de Beaune), the Cote Chalonnaise and the Maconnais.

Chablis, situated in an isolated pocket of limestone hills in north-western Burgundy, produces white wines so distinct in style from those of central Burgundy that it is often treated as a region in its own right.

The two key grape varieties of Burgundy are Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, both members of the extended 'Pinot' family of grape varieties. Their 'poor cousins' Gamay and Aligote are also grown throughout the region, producing more rustic styles of wine. Gamay is used in the red and rosé wines of Macon, while Aligote has its own appellation in the form of Bourgogne Aligote. In the late 14th century, the first Duke of Burgundy outlawed Gamay, dismissing it as unfit for consumption. It was still permitted within the Rhone administrative region, however, where it found a new home in Beaujolais.

The Burgundian climate is predominantly continental, with relatively short summers and cool winters, making it a challenge for the grapes to ripen fully. The greatest threats for Burgundy’s grape-growers – especially those in Chablis – are spring frosts and hail, which can cause great damage to flowering vines. The landscape here is characterized by its limestone soils, manifested either in rolling hills, steep, sharp valleys or rocky outcrops. These soils are of immense importance to the character of Burgundy’s wines, bringing a quintessential minerality and complexity – particularly to the white wines. In fact, along with considerations of orientation, it is the precise soil make-up of the best Burgundy vineyards that brings them the honor of Premier Cru or Grand Cru status

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