Burgundy

Burgundy

10th January 2022

The Burgundy wine region in France is very small, but produces some of the most elegant and expensive wines in the world. It is the only wine region in France whose name is translated into different languages. We call it Burgundy, the French call it Bourgogne, the Germans, Burgund. You will find the name Bourgogne on every label of Burgundy wine and we use the terms interchangeably in this article. 

Although other grapes (such as Alligote, Pinot Gris and Sauvignon Blanc) are used in Burgundy production, there are essentially two primary types of grape used to produce Burgundy: Red wines are produced from Pinot Noir and white is made from Chardonnay grapes. 

Why is some Burgundy so expensive?

Red Burgundy tends to be expensive because the quality of the pinot noir grape variety from which it is produced tends to be reduced when grown in high quantities. Also, there is very little land available in the Burgundy region that is suitable for growing Pinot Noir grapes. The best ones are grown on one small escarpment called ‘La Côte’ a slope that gives its name to Côte de Beaune and Côte de Nuits wine, known collectively as La Côte D’or (Golden Slope). It is about 40 miles long and less than a mile wide. Burgundy is often compared to Bordeaux, which is cheaper because the region produces around 4 times more wine and it is produced in larger quantities. Burgundy wine only accounts for around 3% of France’s overall wine production. 

White Burgundy is more readily available than red Burgundy because it is generally produced from Chardonnay grapes, which grow more successfully in higher yields than the thin-skinned pinot noir grapes used to produce red Burgundy. 

The difference between Burgundy and Bordeaux

These two wines are often compared when perhaps they really shouldn’t be, as they are produced from different grapes. In addition, Burgundy is light in colour, with highish acidity and light tannins. Bordeaux is darker, richer and more structured, some might say, more cerebral. Top red Burgundy can be enjoyed young. Top Bordeaux needs to mature. Burgundy is generally monocépage (i.e. made from one variety) and produced in one vineyard, whereas Bordeaux can be blended from several different grapes and vineyards.

What does Burgundy taste like?

The misconception that Burgundy is dark and rich like Bordeaux has derived from wines produced in the 1950s and 60s, which were often blended with other wines from Châteauneuf-du-Pape or Algeria to make them sweeter and darker. The English name for Bourgogne, ‘Burgundy’ can also cause one to expect a wine that is a deep, rich maroon colour rather than this delicate and gentle red. 

Pinot noir grapes have a thin skin, which means it is lighter in colour and contains less tannins than other red wines. It is best served at 14-16°C and the bottle should be cool to the touch. Serving it at this temperature makes a tremendous difference to the aroma and taste. A simple young Bourgogne should be light ruby red with an aroma of cherries and a medium-bodied palate with refreshing acidity and light and soft tannins. Vintage Bourgogne has a sweeter, denser palate with an aroma of dark fruits and perhaps a hint of vanilla. 

Choosing a Burgundy

Unlike Bordeaux, Bourgogne wines are classified by their vineyard, rather than their producer. 

The quality of Burgundy is all down to the Terroir, a French word meaning the environmental factors that combine to give each wine its unique status. So the grapes, soil, climate, location, amount of sunlight and the human touch all combine to make Burgundy special. 

The soil in this region contains a lot of limestone and this gives the wine it’s zesty minerality. The Romans were producing wine here back in the 1st Century AD but the Burgundy vineyards were fully established by Catholic Monks during the Middle Ages who produced wine for both the church and local nobility. 

The Bourgogne region is located in East-Central France and there are 5 main Burgundy-producing areas:

  1. Côte de Nuits
  2. Côte de Beaune
  3. Côte Chalonnaise
  4. Mâconnais
  5. Chablis

Côte de Nuits

This is the high end of the scale and home to some of the most prestigious vineyards in the world. 80% of the wines produced here are reds, with around 20% white or rosé. 

Albert Bichot - Domaine Du Clos Frantin, Chambertin Grand Cru 2017 - A terrific Grand Cru. The nose is elegant, racy and complex and develops notes of green tea, cigar, prunes, dates and rosemary. Rich, full-bodied and powerful, this wine is balanced and velvety. The finish is long and aromatic.

Or if you want to try something different, Jean-Claude Boisset’s Marsannay Blanc 2018 is a bold dry white that pairs well with pasta, fish and cured meats.

Côte de Beaune

The terrain in this region is slightly different to that of its neighbours and the wine produced here is predominantly Chardonnay. 

An excellent white Burgundy - Domaine Vincent Girardin, Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru 2016 This rich white wine has notes of mineral, flint, vegetal notes, lime and pineapple.

Côte Chalonnaise

The terrain and soil in this region is quite varied, which means that a lot of wonderful reds and whites are produced here too. There are no Grand Cru vineyards here, despite the quality due to its distance from Dijon, where the Duke of Burgundy once lived. Which means they produce some excellent wine for a very good price.

David Moret, `Le Grand A` Aligoté Vin de France 2020 - Unlike the majority of the wines produces in the Bourgogne region, this is produced with Aligoté grapes. Often overlooked, but in the right hands, this grape variety can really shine. By using grapes from 60-year-old vines, this Aligoté has a beautiful concentration with a lovely balance of power, richness and acidity. It has a lovely finish of nougat and toasted hazelnuts and it’s very reasonably priced too.

David Moret Rully 2019 - This wine is pale golden in colour. The nose is full with a varying bouquet of flavours; elderberry, lemon, white peach and hints of flint. The palate strikes the characteristically Burgundian balance between acidity and richness, with bright fruit, nuts, oatmeal and notes of honey, a rounded palate and a long finish.

Mâconnais

This is the largest, yet most southerly part of the Bourgogne region. The climate is much warmer here and the harvest starts 2 weeks earlier than in the Chablis region. These conditions produce some well-structured Chardonnays.

Louis Jadot, Mâcon Villages 2020

An extremely well made and balanced Chardonnay showing the lovely ripe fruit of the region that gives a balanced wine with a soft, gentle creamy mouthfeel with crisp apple characters all balanced by just enough fresh acidity.

Chablis

Chablis is located furthest North of the Burgundy wine region. White wine has been produced here since at least the 12th Century when Cistercian Monks established their vineyards close to the river Serein. All of the wine produced in Chablis is white and made from Chardonnay grapes. Chablis very rarely use oak-aging and has a very unique taste profile.   

Louis Jadot, Chablis Cellier de la Sablière 2020 - Louis Henri Denis Jadot established this wine label in 1859. This elegant Chablis is bursting with white flowers and stone fruits aromas. Round and subtle on the palate, this wine has a long finish with a stony character and a fresh acidity that leaves you wanting more.

Domaines De Ladoucette Chablis Grand Regnard 2019 - This wine is a classic Chablis colour, bright, pale-straw accented with green. On the nose it is elegant and fresh with notes of green apples, lemon and apricot, it has a notable intense aroma. On the palate it is rich, rounded and mellow. There are ample ripe lemony fruit and white peach flavours. The finish is long and freshened by balanced acidity leaving some dried fruit characters at the end. A truly modern style of Chablis reflecting the innovation of the House of Régnard.


Limited Stock: (0 btls)
Domaine Jean Defaix Chablis 2019
France
Domaine Jean Defaix
Chablis 2019
£17.85 £19.60 (Save 9%)
Louis Jadot Petit Chablis 2020
France
Louis Jadot
Petit Chablis 2020
£19.45 £21.40 (Save 10%)
David Moret Rully 2019
France
Limited Stock: (2 btls)

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