The historic vineyards of Burgundy lie in an arc from Auxerre to Lyon, with the heartland of the Côte d'Or situated to the north and south of Beaune. From Chablis in the north, through the Côte d'Or, the Côte Chalonnaise, Maçonnais and finally Beaujolais, this region is the spiritual home of the Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grape varieties. Extreme fragmentation of vineyards due to the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Law of Succession means that (particularly in the Côte d'Or) relatively small vineyards have multiple owners (of varying ability) and quantities of the best wines are miniscule.
The Côte de Nuits runs from Dijon to Nuits-Saint-Georges and is best known for being largely Pinot Noir appellations on a narrow band of limestone soils. The best sites – known as Grand Crus – make a tiny percentage of production but inevitably carry the region's reputation. Premier Crus sit below Grand Crus in the quality hierarchy and themselves sit above village-level wines.
From Beaune south to the Côte Chalonnaise lie the majority of Burgundy's Chardonnay appellations and the quality hierarchy is mostly Premier Cru and village wines with some Grand Crus. Known as the Côte de Beaune after the town of the same name which serves as the key trading centre of the region.
From Chagny in the north to Sercy in the south, the Côte Chalonnaise is named for Chalon-sur-Saône on the area's eastern fringe and is largely comprised of the five AOPs of Rully, Mercurey, Givry Bouzeron and Montagny making good-value village wines and some Premier Crus. It's become the regional centre for growing sparkling Crémant de Bourgogne production.
With a landscape of rolling hills and steep cliffs, Bourgogne's most southerly region around Mâcon owes much to the Cistercian monks from the abbey at Cluny who established the tradition of vineyards in the tenth century. This is white wine country with some 80% of plantings being Chardonnay and most wines are village-level. Mâcon-Villages permits an additional 27 villages to append their names and such wines are generally excellent quality. Some Premier Crus in Fuissé and Saint-Véran were certified in 2020. For the reds, Gamay is planted alongside Pinot Noir (also used to make Crémant).
Bamboozle wine bores with a profound understanding of Burgundy
Overview: The historic vineyards of Burgundy lie in a 230km arc from Auxerre to Lyon, with the heartland of the Côte d'Or situated to the north and south of Beaune. From Chablis in the north, through the Côte D'Or, Côte Chalonnaise, Maçonnais and finally Beaujolais, this region is the spiritual home of the Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grape varieties. Extreme fragmentation of vineyards due to the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Law of Succession means that (particularly in the Côte d'Or) relatively small vineyards have multiple owners (of varying ability) and quantities of the best wines are miniscule. The region enjoys a gastronomic and viticultural heritage that is unsurpassed.
Area Under Vine: Burgundy has over 600 AOCs (compared to 57 in Bordeaux), 27,000 hectares under vine, although half the region's entire output is Beaujolais.
Principal grapes: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Aligoté & Gamay.
Notable domaines: Mortet, Dujac, DRC, Roumier, Cathiard, Anne Gros, Henri Jayer, Bonneau du Martray, Raveneau, Coche-Dury, Leflaive, Lapierre, Guffens-Heynen, plus important negociant houses Latour, Bouchard, Jadot, Duboeuf.
Local delicacies: Beef bourguignon, coq au vin, oeufs en meurette (eggs poached in wine), escargots in parsley and garlic, époisses (cheese) Dijon mustard, crème de cassis liqueur.
Restaurants we like: Le Chambolle (Chambole-Musigny), Relais Bacchus (Lancié), Le Gourmandin (Beaune), Le Montrachet (Puligny-Montrachet) & Au P'tit Kir (Saint Léger sur Dheune).
Famous people from the region: Pierre Paul Prud'hon (Romantic painter), Gustave Eiffel (engineer), Gaspard Monge (mathematician), Pierre Larousse (lexicographer), Bernard Thevenet (two- time Tour de France winner).
Things to do: Hire bikes and cycle the Route des Grand Crus, take a boat ride on the Canal du Centre; see washed-rind cheeses being made at the Gaugry fromagerie, attend the Hospices de Beaune wine auction, view Impressionist paintings in the Musée des Beaux-Arts housed in the Palais des Ducs (Dijon) or check out the covered food market Les Halles.
Bien classique: Gevrey-Chambertin: Domaine Henri Richard.
Autre chose: Beaujolais blanc: Arnaud Aucoeur.
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