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Burgundy

Burgundy is undoubtedly one of the most emblematic wine regions of France. It is known for its great wines that attract wine lovers from all over the world, both in France and elsewhere. What is the history of Burgundy wines? What do you need to know about the vineyards that produce them? We explain everything in this guide.

In Burgundy, viticulture proper began in the second century AD. It should be noted that certain archaeological excavations show that this culture would have begun well before: towards 51 before J-C.

At the time, Greek merchants traded extensively with those of the Rhone Valley. There were also the Romans, who arrived about two centuries later. The very first time Burgundy wine was mentioned was in 591.

The time of the first vineyard owners

The monks of the Catholic Church have greatly influenced the history of wine in the region. As early as 910, people were already talking about the first vineyard owners. It was the Benedictines. For its part, the largest vineyard of the time was held by the Cistercian order. The domain was called the Clos de Vougeot.

Burgundy wine invited to the court of kings and the Pope

Gaining in importance, the wine of Burgundy became over the centuries, very appreciated by the high society, especially by the nobility. Several great families have made it one of their favorite dishes, such as the House of Valois which governed Burgundy during a good part of the XIVth century. Burgundy wine was also invited to the court of kings and the Pope.

Departments covered by the Burgundy vineyards

In total, four departments are covered by the Burgundy vineyard. These are the Côte d’Or, Yonne, Saône-et-Loire and Rhône.

The climatic characteristics of the Burgundy region

In Burgundy, the climate is characterized by a cold winter, a spring with frosts, but also a hot summer. Autumn, for its part, is very sunny. These climatic characteristics present the ideal conditions for viticulture in the region.

The best wines of Burgundy

There is a multitude of Burgundian wines. Here are our top 7 picks:

  • Chablis les Clos 2014, Grand Cru (White): a tonic wine, rather mineral, with beautiful notes of lemon
  • Le Clos Blanc de Vougeot Monopole (white) : it is a full-bodied wine, rather spicy and fresh
  • Le Clos de Magny 2016 (Red) : it is a fruity and juicy wine
  • Le Clos Saint-Philibert Monopole 2016 (white) : a fresh and floral wine
  • Le Clos des Issarts Monopole (2016) Gevrey-Chambertin 1er cru (red) : a racy and fresh wine
  • Le Clos des Lambrays 2015, Grand Cru (red) : a full and fruity wine
  • Clos des Ducs, Volnay 1er cru (red) : a floral and very aromatic wine

The different appellations of Burgundy wines

At the level of its appellation, there are 4 categories for Burgundy wine. At the level of its appellation, there are 4 categories for Burgundy wine.

Regional appellations

These wines are divided into 6 AOCs which allow them to be categorized on the basis of their characteristics. There is, for example, the appellation AOC Bourgogne Aligoté for white wines. These products are made from the grape variety whose name they bear: AOC Crémants de Bourgogne.

Communal appellations

These appellations designate the wines that are attached to their villages of origin. There are, for example, the wines of Aloxe-Corton, Gevrey-Chambertin or Pommard.

The other notable appellations of Burgundy wine

There are several, such as the 6 regional AOCs: Bourgogne, Bourgogne aligoté, Bourgogne Mousseux, Côteaux Bourguignons, Bourgogne passe-tout-grains, Crémant de Bourgogne. There are also the communal appellations: Chablis, Petit-Chablis, Irancy, Saint-Bris, which are close to Bordeaux.

Great growths and wines of Burgundy

Before presenting these grands crus, it is important to remember that the classification is made on the basis of the appellation zones and not according to the producers. For their part, the Grands Crus represent the highest level among the strata of appellation that we have mentioned.

Here is the official list of the great wines of Burgundy:

Great white wines of Burgundy : Chablis Vaudésir, Chablis Bougrots, Chablis Les Preuses, Chablis Les Clos

Great red wines of Burgundy: Corton, Clos Saint-Denis, Clos de Tart, Clos des Lambrays, Clos de la Roche, Bonnes Mares, Latricières Chambertin… to mention only those.

Burgundy wine rankings

As we have indicated, the wines of Burgundy are classified according to their geographical origins. We then find the regional, communal (or village) appellations and the Grands Crus de Bourgogne. These, as a reminder, represent the fourth level of designation. They represent 1% of the production of the Burgundian red gold.

The emblematic producers of Burgundy wine

As with other famous wines of France, there are iconic producers for Burgundy products.

The Domaine Bouchard Père & Fils

It is one of the oldest estates in the region. It was founded in 1731. It is distinguished by its unique heritage and by the diversity of its wine appellations.

The Domaine Joseph Drouhin

Founded in 1880, this estate includes 3 vineyards located in Beaume. Joseph Drouhin is known for the superior quality of its white wine.

La Chablisienne

It is a cooperative cellar of Chablis. Founded in 1923, this company has become one of the heavyweights of the sector.

The Domaine Bruno Clair

Founded in 1979, this estate represents the emblematic winemaker of Marsannay.

The best vintages of Burgundy

The vintage designates the year of production of a given wine. As far as Burgundy products are concerned, the best vintages are the following:

Pour les vins rouges : 1945, 1947, 1949, 1953, 1959, 1961, 1966, 1969, 1971, 1976, 1978, 1990, 2005, 2015, 2018, 2019.

Pour les vins blancs: 1945, 1947, 1949, 1950, 1952, 1955, 1962, 1966, 1969, 1971 (le meilleur) 1989, 1996, 2003, 2005, 2018, 2019.

The domains in the vicinity

The domains close to those that produce Burgundy wines. For example: the Château du Moulin à Vent, the Cave de l’Ange Gardien, Henri de Villamont, Les Vins Georges Dubœuf, the Château de la Crée, the Quivy Gérard, or the Caveau de Meursault.