There are more than 100 appellations within Burgundy (also known as Bourgogne) producing wines predominantly from the Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes.
Red Burgundy - Pinot Noir-based Reds (>80%) and may include Gamay
The other most notable wines from Burgundy are red wines (Bourgogne Rouge). And, the most widely produced red wine in France's Burgundy region is Pinot Noir. French wine labels generally only identify the region where the wine is produced and not the grape varietal used to produce it. So you just have to remember that if you are looking for a French Pinot Noir, a Burgundy is what you are looking for.
Burgundy is the original home of Pinot Noir with records of its existence dating back to the 1300's. And like most French wines, they are highly regulated.
White Burgundy - Chardonnay-based Whites (>80%) that may include Aligate
Growing Areas in Burgundy
Beaujolais - Producing wines from the Gamay grape that are generally light and fresh. Legally, most producers may use up to 15 percent of white varieties in the blend, but almost all the region's red wine is 100% Gamay. Less than 2% of Beaujolais wine are white, being produced with Chardonnay.
The 'Beaujolais Nouveau' wines are made with shorter fermentation periods and the wine is bottled within weeks of harvest.
The top ten "Crus," or vineyard areas, have their own appellation title. Generally speaking, the wines of Chiroubles, Regnie and St.-Amour are the lighter-bodied wines, while those from Julienas, Fleurie, Morgon, and Moulin-a-Vent are fuller-bodied.
Chablis - Chablis (sha-BLEE) is a region located in the northwest corner of the province of Burgundy in France. It produces light, dry white wines known for their minerality and crisp acidity. And all white wines produced in Chablis are made exclusively from the Chardonnay grape. They tend to be dry and fresh in flavor with distinct minerality. Chablis, or White Burgundy, is usually un-oaked to retain its bright, crisp flavors. A few Chablis producers do use oak barrels in their wine making but these are restricted to the higher-quality wines and does not lead to overpowering oak flavors.
The vineyards of Chablis are classified into four tiers of quality, all precisely regulated by the Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée (AOC), and noted on the bottles' label:
- Chablis Grand Cru AOC- Highest quality wines from seven vineyards on one slope
- Only region where some oak aging is done. These wines have flavors of passion fruit, apricot, apple and orange rind.
- Chablis Premier Cru AOC - Seventy vineyards in some of the better locations
- The limestone soils produce richer fruit with flavors of lemon, starfruit and flint minerality
- Chablis AOC - Comprised of the vineyards mostly closer in to the town of Chablis
- These wines have nice flavors of citrus, pear and minerals
- Petit Chablis AOC - Vineyard areas in the outer areas from the town of Chablis
- These tend to have higher acidity, tart citrus flavors, and are best enjoyed young
Côte de Beaune - The vast majority of Gran Cru vineyards produce white wines.
Côte de Nuits - Produces 95% red wines and the remaining are Chardonnay or Rosé.
Côte Chalonnaise - There are no Gran Cru vineyards here. Some of the better known names include:
Bourzeron Village- Only appellation devoted to producing Aligoté
Rully Village - Produces white and rosé sparking wines in the tradition method, as it is done in Champagne
Mercury, Givry & Montagny Villages - Producing Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs
Mâconnais - The southern most and largest region in France.
Classifications of Wines in Burgundy:
Gran Cru - Accounting for just over 1% of Burgundy’s annual production, these are top dollar wines. Bold, powerful, complex and made for aging, these are the best of both Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. There are a total of 33 Grand Cru vineyards in Burgundy which represents about 1% of Burgundy's annual production.
Premier Cru - Produced by special vineyard areas within a village, called “climate” (clew-mats). The label will say “Premier Cru” or “1er Cru”.
Village Wines - Wines named after a town near to where the grapes are grown
Regional AOP - Can be made from grapes grown anywhere in Burgundy