Burgundy is one of the most prestigious wine regions in the world. Its capital city, Dijon, lies in north-central France along the valley of the river Saône and has been inhabited since at least 4200 BC.
The region is home to several different wine grapes, including pinot noir, Gamay, and Chardonnay, which make reds, whites, and sparkling wines. Its popularity is due to it being France’s biggest wine region, with just over 8 million acres of vineyards (about half in reds and half in whites).
That’s almost as much space devoted to grapes as Bordeaux, Beaujolais, Languedoc-Roussillon, and Champagne combined. And though a common misconception is that most of these vineyards produce red wine—less than 60 percent do—you’d still have more than 3 million acres of red grapevines at your disposal. There are plenty of world-class white wines produced here as well.
Buying a Burgundy Bottle
Burgundy is known as the best region for developing Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. The land is respected and seen as indispensable in the production of red and white Burgundy grape plantations.
The wine is classified into four levels throughout the Burgundy region. When purchasing a bottle of Burgundy, it will be marked with one of these four classes.
- Grand Cru: Only the best grape plantations are delegated Grand Cru. This assignment is given to around 2% of all grape plantations in Burgundy.
- Premier Cru: These wines come from grape plantations of excellent quality yet are a rank beneath Grand Cru. Premier Cru grape plantations represent around 12% of all plants in Burgundy.
- Village Wines: These are Burgundies made with grapes gathered from numerous grape plantations in one of Burgundy’s 42 towns. The name of the places is marked on the container and represents 36% of all Burgundy.
- Regional Wines: Regional wines are the lowest-ranked product. These are wines produced using a blend of grapes from plantations across numerous towns around Burgundy, instead of a solitary town, just like Village wines. Accordingly, wines in this order will be alluded to as Bourgogne wines. These wines represent half of all Burgundy wine creations.
Burgundy was previously covered by the ocean, bringing the land limestone and marl soils. The area’s wines are known for their minerality due to the dirt creation. Burgundy has an extended history with wine, coming back to around 50 BC. When the Romans attacked Burgundy, the Celts were fabricating wine. But then, when the Roman Empire fell, the Catholic church took up wine production.
Benedictine priests possessed and cultivated a significant part of the land in the area around 900. However, Cistercian priests improved the art of Burgundian wines two centuries later. Cistercians felt that buckling down carried them nearer to God, and the priests embraced an insightful way of winemaking. They kept exact records and began “terroir,” which refers to the nature of wine impacted by the area where it is made. Clos Vougeot, the first encased Burgundian grape plantation, was laid out in 1336 and still delivers wine today.
Burgundy is the home of Pinot Noir, which represents 34% of the area’s grape plantations and 29% of the total wine yield. The red grape blossoms with limestone and mud soils, add to its intricacy.
Burgundy Pinot Noir wines range in variety from cherry to black currant, have a light body, and are frequently seasoned with red products of the soil. Gamay is a red grape in Burgundy, yet just 10% of the plants are grown there.
Chardonnay is Burgundy’s most well-known white wine grape, representing 48% of plantings and 68% of creation. Burgundy’s marl soil benefits Chardonnay, giving it wonderful botanical, natural, and mineral fragrances and full-bodied preferences. Aligoté is the second most famous white grape, representing 6% of all the wine produced.
On This Day
1336: The Cistercians were the first to recognize that various grape plots produced dependably distinct wines.
591 BC: Burgundy wines were praised for the first time in history.
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