The Burgundy countryside is as varied as its winegrowing heritage. The Burgundy wine region produces an extensive array of wines over an area that stretches from Auxerre to the Mâcon region. Find out what makes Burgundy unique.
An overview of the Burgundy wine region
The vineyards of Burgundy cover 29,500 hectares divided between four departments, each of which represents a major wine region:
- Yonne, which is home to Chablis and Auxerre for example,
- Côte d’Or, also known as the Côte de Nuits wine region,
- Saône-et-Loire where the vineyards of Mâcon and Côte de Beaune are located,
- Rhone, the location of the vineyards of Beaujolais and Coteaux du Lyonnais.
Burgundy is therefore a fragmented wine region and produces primarily white wines (60.5%).
The quality of the wine depends on the appellation but also on the region’s ‘climats’, a local term recognised as Unesco World Heritage since 2015.
The range of Burgundy appellations
The Burgundy wine region is extremely varied with 84 AOC (‘appellation d’origine controlee’) or appellations. The quality pyramid for Burgundy wines is sometimes regarded as complex but can be presented in the following way, in descending order.
- The Grands Crus appellations group together 33 renowned appellations such as Chablis;
- The Premiers Crus account for 10% of Burgundy wine production and systematically refer to their village of origin;
- The village-designated appellations represent 30% of production. The 44 Village appellations are easy to recognise because they are named after the location where the wine is made;
- The regional appellations represent the vast majority of Burgundy wines, accounting for 50% of production. AOC Bourgogne belongs to this category.
The number of appellations falling into each of these categories stems from the fragmented nature of the wine region.
Burgundy’s varietal range
Unlike Bordeaux, wines from Burgundy are single varietals.
Pinot noir and Chardonnay are without doubt Burgundy’s best known wines, but there are others.
In addition to Chardonnay, Burgundy white wines also include Pinot blanc, which boasts its own Village appellation, and Sacy, which can only be produced in the Yonne department.
In terms of red wines, there is obviously Pinot noir, but also Pinot gris, which can be referred to as Beurot. This wine is made on a boutique scale by producers scattered across the region.
Gamay’s popularity has waned due to its acidity. Some winegrowers still produce small amounts for their own personal consumption.
Lastly, César and Tressot are generic appellations only occurring in Yonne. Tressot is increasingly rare.
The Burgundy wine region provides a broad array of white wines but also reds. Due to its fragmented nature, it is home to a range of ‘climats’, enabling it to grow grape varieties that are very different, like Pinot noir and Chardonnay.