French Burgundy Wines

French Burgundy Wines

The hallowed ground of Burgundy is home to the greatest Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs in the world. Sadly though, in recent years not all of the wines made from here have met the standards of their predecessors. Having said that, there are some smart, up and coming young producers around and today Burgundy finds itself on a bit of a roll.

Burgundy was one of the first French regions to be known for its wine outside its boundaries. Favored by kings and queens, the much sought after wines of Burgundy were also a passion for Thomas Jefferson.

Situated in central French, Burgundy stretches from Dijon in the north, to just south of Macon in the south. The districts of Chablis, sixty miles to the northwest of Dijon and Beaujolais, to the south of Macon, are both considered part of the region. Due to the influence of the church and the French law of inheritance, the vineyards of Burgundy are very fragmented.

Therefore the 'négociant' (the merchant who buys direct from the grower) has an important role in the making and selling of the wines. 'Domaine' (estate) bottled Burgundy is a direct reflection of an individual grower, who often tends the vines, makes the wine, and bottles it.

Burgundy Grapes

Chardonnay is the principal white grape suited to the calcareous/limestone soil of Burgundy. White Burgundy combines power and elegance but early maturing wines are also produced, along with the racy, cool climate white wines of Chablis.

The Aligoté grape is also planted. This makes crisp and lively white wines and is the classical base for Kir. Pinot Blanc and Sauvignon Blanc are also planted in small quantities. The major black variety in the region is Pinot Noir, except in Beaujolais where Gamay reigns supreme. In Burgundy, Pinot Noir is capable of producing wines of exceptional class, elegance and ability to age. It's a difficult customer though and great care is required to grow and vinify this grape. Gamay on the other hand, provides color, lots of fruit and acidity in Beaujolais and is also used in the Mâconnais.

The most famous and expensive wines of Burgundy include those of the Domaine de la Romanée Conti, Domaine Leflaive and Lafon.

"The wines in Sauvignon de St Bris, an Appellation Contrôlée in Northern Burgundy, are made from Sauvignon Blanc."

"Bourgogne Passetoutgrains is a blend of a minimum of one third Pinot and Gamay."

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