Burgundy Wine Basics

Burgundy's epic vineyards extend approximately 258km from Chablis in the north to the Mâconnais region in the south and comprise 100 AOCs (Appellations d’Origine Contrôlée). Each region has its own appellations and traits, embodied by a concept called terroir, the earth imbuing its produce, such as grapes, with unique qualities. However, some appellations, such as Crémant de Bourgogne (a light, sparkling white or rosé) and Bourgogne Aligoté, are produced in several regions.

Wine Regions

Here's an ever-so-brief survey of some of Burgundy's major growing regions:

Côte d'Or vineyards The northern section, the Côte de Nuits, stretches from Marsannay-la-Côte south to Corgoloin and produces reds known for their robust, full-bodied character. The southern section, the Côte de Beaune, lies between Ladoix-Serrigny and Santenay and produces great reds and whites. Appellations from the area's hilltops are the Hautes-Côtes de Nuits and Hautes-Côtes de Beaune.

Chablis & Grand Auxerrois Four renowned chardonnay white wine appellations from 20 villages around Chablis. Part of the Auxerrois vineyards, Irancy produces excellent pinot noir reds. The Tonnerrois vineyards produce good, affordable reds, whites and rosés.

Châtillonnais Approximately 20 villages around Châtillon-sur-Seine producing red and white wines.

Côte Chalonnaise The southernmost continuation of the Côte de Beaune's slopes is noted for its excellent reds and whites.

Mâconnais Known for rich or fruity white wines, including the Pouilly-Fuissé chardonnay.

Want to Know More?

Tourist offices provide brochures including The Burgundy Wine Road and a useful map, Roadmap to the Wines of Burgundy. A handy website is www.bourgogne-wines.com.

Lots of books are available at Beaune's Athenaeum de la Vigne et du Vin. Look for these:

  • Côte d'Or: A Celebration of the Great Wines of Burgundy and My Favorite Burgundies by Clive Coates.
  • The Wines of Burgundy by Sylvain Pitiot and Jean-Charles Servant. Excellent overview.
  • The Climats and Lieux-dits of the Great Vineyards of Burgundy by Marie-Hélène Landrieu-Lussigny and Sylvain Pitiot. Classic atlas of Burgundian vinicultural place names, translated into English in 2014.
  • The Great Domaines of Burgundy and Grand Cru: the Great Wines of Burgundy Through the Perspective of Its Finest Vineyards by Remington Norman.
  • Inside Burgundy by Jasper Morris.
  • The Finest Wines of Burgundy by Bill Nanson.
  • The Cook's Atelier by Marjorie Taylor and Kendall Smith Franchini

Take a Class!

Wine-tasting classes can help you make the most of your time in Burgundy.

École des Vins de Bourgogne Offers a variety of courses (from a three-hour, €75 fundamentals class to a three-day, €780 wine-taster's certificate program) to refine your viticultural vocabulary as well as your palate.

Sensation Vin Offers a €35,1½-hour essentials class, half- and full-day tasting sessions and personalised wine-tasting circuits through the area's most famous vineyards.