Keine Kamera verfügbar. Bitte Zugriff auf Kamera erlauben und Applikation neu starten.

The Burgundy winegrowing region

This fascinating, legendary winegrowing area seems almost unfathomable. Hardly any other area has such a great variety of different terroirs, which make the single-varietal wines distinctive. As one of the oldest and most renowned winegrowing areas in France, Burgundy produces large volumes of top wines. Beaujolais enjoys cult status, and the most sought-after wines include complex Pinot noirs from the Côte d'Or and expressive Chardonnays from Chablis.
Burgundy has a long history as a winegrowing region.

History of the Burgundy winegrowing region

It was probably the Greeks who brought the vine to this area around 600 BC. Despite the Romans' preference for Italian wines and the turmoil caused by the migration of peoples in the 5th century, Burgundy has always been a thriving winegrowing region over the centuries.
The church played an important role in later times: many of today's most distinguished vineyards were gifts from the nobility to the monasteries. Among them is the famous Clos de Vougeot, a foundation of the Cistercian Order of Cluny. After the 14th century the Dukes of Valois ruled over Burgundy, bringing prosperity to the area. Duke Philip the Good played a particularly important role in the rise of the Burgundy wine region. He determined which grape varieties were best suited to the area, and he is also credited with setting comprehensive quality standards, which were equivalent to an appellation system, as early as the 15th century. He also founded the Hospices de Beaune, known today for its wine auctions – and for setting the tone in Burgundy.
During the 19th century, like the rest of France, Burgundy was hit by several disasters: phylloxera and mildew destroyed more than two thirds of its vineyards. In 1861, Burgundy’s vineyards were systematically classified by researcher Jules Lavalle, and the current classification of even the smallest plots of Burgundy’s vineyards into different quality levels can be traced back to him.The outstanding importance of the Burgundy wine region was recognized by UNESCO in 2015, when the Côte de Beaune and the Côte de Nuits vineyards were designated World Heritage Sites.

Geography

The Burgundy winegrowing region comprises land stretching from north to south to the west of the Saône valley. An exception is Chablis, an exclave only 70 kilometres from the southernmost vineyards of Champagne, but 130 kilometres from Beaune.The contiguous Burgundy region begins south of Dijon with the Côte d'Or, the "golden slopes", consisting of the Côte de Nuits and the Côte de Beaune. The vineyards then continue south to the Côte Chalonnaise and Mâconnais areas, finally reaching the Beaujolais. Vineyards are located at an altitude of 200 to 400 metres on gently inclined slopes facing south-east. The soil is very important. Jurassic limestone and marl form the base in large parts of the region, but diverse geological developments have given the Burgundy winegrowing region a wide range of soil types. In Chablis, for example, the limestone is mixed with chalk and shell fossils - ideal for expressive Chardonnays. Sometimes the soil profile varies even from plot to plot, so the generally single-varietal products of Burgundy winegrowing can have many faces.
Burgundy has a continental climate.

Climate

Burgundy has a continental climate. Frost, hail, storms and heavy rainfall are the threats in this region, which is characterized by northern climatic conditions. This northern location makes microclimates very important, as they can mitigate macroclimatic conditions – thus making the difference between a successful harvest and a less successful one. Because of the diversity of soils and microclimates, the Burgundy winegrowing region represents a motley mosaic of different terroirs, which are rated very differently in the classification system.
In addition, the comparatively unstable annual climate has a significant effect on the success of a vintage. Winters are extremely cold, with the threat of late frosts in some locations, and summer are quite short – which is why winegrowers prefer early-ripening grapes. There is a risk of heavy rainfall throughout the region during the flowering period in early summer and the harvest period in October. The fluctuating climate makes vintages an important quality criterion in addition to geographical origin.

The best Burgundy wines

The defining feature of Burgundy's viticulture is that the wines it produces are almost exclusively single-varietal. This distinguishes it from the cuvées of the Bordeaux region, with which it has always competed for the title of "Best French Wine". Instead of blending several varieties, Burgundian winemakers rely on one grape and exploit its potential to the full – more clearly reflecting the terroir, and enabling cellar masters to get the best out of the variety. This is how extremely powerful Pinot noirs are produced in the Côte de Nuits, and particularly fine Chardonnays with a mineral note in Chablis.
Although the classification system is standard, it is quite complicated – with over a hundred appellations. There are regional and communal quality classes as well as cru designations. The Grand Crus are at the top, followed by Premier Crus and then products with the Village label. The Côte de Beaune, Côte de Nuits and Chablis areas, for example, have a particularly large number of prestigious cru sites. The capricious weather means that results within these quality classes vary from year to year.

Popular wines from Burgundy

Reds

Although reds are dominated by only two grape varieties, there is a wide variety of wines in the Burgundy region. In the north, full-bodied, smooth and high-alcohol red wines are produced that gain from ageing in bottle – while in the south, Beaujolais wines are fruity, fresh and quaffable: they should be drunk young. Probably the best red wines in France come from the Côte de Nuits, the northernmost part of the Côte d'Or area. Pinot noir and Gamay are the most important red grapes. Both early-ripening, they thrive on the calcareous soils despite the northern location. In some parts of the Burgundy winegrowing region almost 95% of the vineyards are planted with Pinot noir, while in other areas, such as Saône-et-Loire, it plays a lesser role.The delicate Pinot noir grape requires great skill in the vineyard and the cellar. The winegrowers cherish and care for their vines. Strict limitations on yield improve quality. Cellar masters in Burgundy demonstrate great savoir-faire in dealing with tannins. Its Pinot noirs are pleasantly velvety, with a resilient acid structure: they are ideal for laying down for several years. Reacting sensitively to climate and soil influences, this grape produces complex wines, especially in the Côte de Nuits – while in the Côte de Beaune it shows its more powerful side.Gamay has been trying to displace Pinot noir from the top spot for years, and in some areas of the Burgundy winegrowing region it has already succeeded. Without Gamay the iconic Beaujolais red wines would be unthinkable. The grape provides plenty of fruit, and its delicate tannin structure lends lightness to Burgundy reds. The mineral soils do their bit, giving red Beaujolais an unmistakable aroma. Its beguiling bouquet is reminiscent of roses, cherries and raspberries.

White specialities from the Burgundy vineyards

White wines from Burgundy are always dry, and oak-barrel ageing often makes them concentrated and buttery – in Côte de Beaune, for example. But they can also be light and fruity with high acidity, as in Chablis. Other prestigious wines can be found in Meursault, Montrachet and Aloxe-Corton. White Burgundies are led by the Chardonnay and Aligoté grapes. The best Chardonnays come from Chablis. They are characterized by an excellent body, a luminous greenish yellow colour and a strong mineral note. Their distinctive aroma is due to limestone permeated by fossil shells. Maturing Chablis in wooden barrels brings out even finer mineral nuances, and rounds off its acid structure. Chardonnays from the Côte de Beaune, Puligny and Meursault also enjoy a global reputation.The Aligoté grape produces wines that are extremely rich in extract. Bourgogne Aligoté, for example, is a light, strongly acidic white wine. Other specialities of Burgundy viticulture are also based on this grape. In the Côte Chalonnaise in particular, sparkling crémants are made from Aligoté, which also goes into kir and white Beaujolais as a spicy addition.Crémant de Bourgogne is a fresh sparkling wine, very carefully crafted by the méthode champenoise.Bourgogne Passe-Tout-Grains is also made with white grapes. This light, fruity wine is made from at least one third Pinot noir and two thirds Gamay.

Grape varieties

The most important grapes are Chardonnay and Aligoté for whites, Pinot noir and Gamay for reds.

Vineyard area and production volume

Burgundy's vineyards produce some 2.9 million hectolitres per year on a total area of around 50,000 hectares. 65% are reds.
Whether Chardonnay from Chablis or red Beaujolais, although the world's best and most expensive wines are produced in Burgundy, you should not trust to luck when buying them. Such wines must be chosen with passion, and winemakers selected with care. The Mondovino online shop and Coop outlets offer you a careful selection of the best vintages.