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Burgundy Wine Cellars

The Regions

TOP

Get to know the regions of Burgundy. Simply 'click' on a region on the map for a brief introduction and orientation. There are six main regions and these are clearly shown below. 

There are 100 Appellations in Burgundy and these are classified into four quality categories. These are Bourgogne, Village, Premier Cru and Grand Cru. We show these categories graphically and describe them in greater detail on 'Read a Label' in the drop down menu under 'About Burgundy' in the navigation bar at the top. 

Chablis
Côte de Nuits
Côte de Beaune
Côte Chalonnaise
Mâconnais
Beaujolais

Get to know the regions of Burgundy. Simply 'click' on a region on the map for a brief introduction and orientation. There are six main regions and these are clearly shown below. 

There are 100 Appellations in Burgundy and these are classified into four quality categories. These are Bourgogne, Village, Premier Cru and Grand Cru. We show these categories graphically and describe them in greater detail on 'Read a Label' in the drop down menu under 'About Burgundy' in the navigation bar at the top. 

Chablis

x

Burgundy, for the most part, is a contiguous whole. A narrow band of vines running from Dijon in the North to Macon in the south with a few gaps and bulges along the way. But Chablis and its satellite villages lay a couple hours’ drive to the northwest. Yet, while producers of Chablis may think otherwise, the rest of the world considers this an important part of Burgundy too.

Chablis is unique. It is the perfect confluence of grape, rock and weather. Chardonnay likes to come to maturity slowly, and Chablis, at the northernmost limit of possibility, obliges. Add a touch of kimmeridgian clay for that river rock minerality, and you have something to make the world take notice.

It’s hard to imagine that a hundred years ago, Chablis and the countryside around lay barren of vines, victim of a sap-sucking aphid called phylloxera. Hard to imagine too how it might have been before the blight. Nearly all of the hillsides in the region rise from rivers that flow into the River Yonne, a tributary of the Seine which flows, of course, through Paris.

Before phylloxera, Chablis – and not just Chablis but the entire region – supplied table wine for Paris. An ocean of simple wine was produced in these valleys and transported to the capital via the waterways. Naturally, the economy was devastated when the vines began to die. But the worst was yet to come.

A solution was eventually found to combat phylloxera, but nothing could stop the coming of the railroad. Once the sunny south was linked by rail to Paris, wine production shifted to where the growing conditions were predictable, and the wines of the Yonne disappeared.

But not entirely. Chablis had a reputation and was to keep the flame alight. Still, it took a half century and more before the region was back on its feet.

Over the years, winemakers have gone back to the slopes that were known to produce good wine in the past. Irancy was a favorite of the Parisian café chic, and today is forging a reputation for its avant-garde pinot noir production.

And other traditional vineyards of the region are rising from the ashes. Tonnere, Vezelay, Coulanges-la-Vineuse, Saint Bris, the Cote St. Jacques in Joigny have all rebounded and are waiting in the wings.

Shop this Region

Côte de Nuits

x

As you drive south out of Dijon and through the suburban sprawl, you come to Marsannay. Off to the right, in the distance on the hillside, you catch a first glimpse of the vineyards of the Côte d’Or. Here begin the ‘golden slopes’, the heartland of Burgundy wine production.

And from here until you hit the limestone quarries at Corgoloin about 15 miles further south, you will traverse arguably the most famous vineyards on the planet. This is the Côte de Nuits, the northern half of the Côte d’Or,
and your itinerary will read like a world-class wine list.

Next stop, Gevrey-Chambertin. And if you turn right at the light and wend your way through the village, you will end up on the Route des Grands Crus. From here you won’t need a map. Pass through the grand cru Chambertins and the Clos de Beze towards Morey-St. Denis with its treasures, Clos de la Roche, Clos St. Denis, Clos de Tart.

You are in a vein of rock here that produces some of the finest red wine in the world. Carry on to tiny Chambolle-Musigny with its Bonnes Mares and Les Musigny, and out the other side to the Clos de Vougeot and the Echezeaux. It’s one legendary piece of land after another until you reach Vosne-Romanée and the pilgrims’ destination, Romanée-Conti.

On to Nuit-St.-Georges which gave its name to the Côte de Nuits, and where traditionally the region’s business was transacted. It’s a pretty little town, but most of the attention here is turned towards the land around. As we pass into the no-man’s-land of hard rock quarries, you note that we drove that distance in under a half an hour; and that was with gawking tourists.

It puts Burgundy into perspective. World famous wines. Such tiny villages. Such a narrow strip of land.

Shop this Region

Côte de Beaune

x

In terms of wine and wonder, Beaune is the capital of Burgundy. An architectural gem from the late Middle Ages built on a rabbit warren of cellars, Beaune is in every sense an old-style market town, humming with the business of Burgundy. Giving its name to the surrounding Côte de Beaune, the town traditionally represented the whole of the region.

But things have changed of late. As Burgundy’s reputation has grown, the villages of the Côte de Beaune have had ever-increasing cachet. Today it’s not the villages, but the vineyards within those villages that capture the world’s attention. The notion of ‘terroir’, that every vineyard is unique because the soil beneath it is unique, has come to define Burgundy and its wine.

The present-day map of the Côte de Beaune is definitely large-scale. From atop the Corton mountain to the north of Beaune you can see the villages of Aloxe-Corton and Ladoix down the eastern flank. Pernand-Vergelesses is round the other side. Savigny-les Beaune is in the distance. But in each of these villages there are dozens and dozens of vineyards – grand cru, premier cru, village appellations – each named and each held in greater or lesser esteem.

And so it continues as you head south through Beaune into the vineyards beyond. We speak broadly of wines from Pommard, Meursault, Volnay, from any of the villages of the Côte de Beaune. And here again it is true: the road map reads like a wine list. But the geological complexity beneath these villages pulls us even closer. Where does Pommard end and Volnay begin? That’s easy.

You can taste it.

Shop this Region

Côte Chalonnaise

x

Boundaries exist for many reasons. They can delimit regions that are older than memory, or simply be expedient lines drawn on a map. History and geography, but also politics and favoritism, create boundaries. Wine regions are no different. As you head south out of Beaune you are forced, almost without knowing it, to choose one of two roads that flank the hills around the castle at La Rochepot. People who built such strongholds knew what they were doing. They chose strategic sites in areas of passage, frontiers. And it’s not far from here that the Côte de Beaune abruptly ends and the Côte Chalonnaise begins.

Though the soils remain much the same and the slopes have similar exposures to the sun, here we lose
the continuity of the Côte de Beaune, the hillside drops away.

The wines of the Côte Chalonnaise are produced in and around five distinct villages separated one from the other by agriculture other than vines. And each of these discreet outcrops produces a style apart.

Being the poor cousin, ‘not the Côte d’Or’, has always been a struggle. Turned towards the river port of Chalon sur Saône and the industrial towns along the canal, the Côte Chalonnaise traditionally produced simple wine. But in the latter half of the last century, the ever-increasing popularity of Burgundy allowed winemakers here to dream of grander things. These days, the region gets ‘discovered’ every few years or so, based on the driving work of a handful of serious producers.

Tucked away, a stone’s throw from the canal which is the northern border of the Côte Chalonnaise, is the village of Bouzeron. Winemakers here made the audacious decision to apply for a village appellation based on wines made, not from pinot noir and chardonnay, but from aligoté. Aligoté is considered the second white grape of Burgundy, inferior to chardonnay. And it is usually treated that way. But give aligoté some respect, give it a decent vineyard, and it can be one of the great surprises in Burgundy wine.

Just to the south is Rully, producing more white than red, both showing charm and fruit. The whites are aromatic and apt for early drinking. The reds are less tannic than their neighbors to the south, but they have a distinctive style, their perfume is their charm. Extensive premier cru vineyards in Rully produce wine worth cellaring.

Further along, Mercurey is the biggest town in the region. It sits in the bottom of a dome, encircled by its vineyards. Many say that Mercurey is the Côte d’Or in miniature, with complex terroir that produces wines that resemble many found further north, both red and white. Here there is great potential, and premier cru vineyards produce wine worth looking for.

Givry too has great potential. More so with red than white. There is a vein of premier cru that deserve notice for a style that is unmistakably Givry. Here several producers have driven the appellation, and the reputation is such that fewer and fewer people these days confuse it with Gevrey!

And further south are Montagny and Buxy. The vineyards here have the same exposition as those in the northern part of the Côte Chalonnaise, but the subsoil is different and more apt for white. The region has the potential to produce wine worthy of the name Burgundy, but over the years politics has stymied progress. Someone, for example, thought that it might be a good idea to allow Montagny to call any wine a premier cru if it has alcohol higher that 11.5%! And for better or worse, the cave cooperative system has flourished here, with the well-run Cave de Buxy being by far the largest producer in the Côte Chalonnaise. Several small producers stand out, and the future looks bright.

 

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Mâconnais

x

No other region of Burgundy has seen such intense interest and investment over the past generation as the Mâconnais. An impressively beautiful region ringing the western side of the city of Mâcon above the River Saône, the Mâconnais traditionally produces inexpensive wine, often in bulk.

With the exception of Pouilly-Fuissé, which put itself back on the road to quality early on, the region has been slow to capitalize on its strengths. However, with a limestone subsoil similar to that of the Côte d’Or, slopes with excellent
east and south faces and above all a much warmer climate than its neighbors to the north, the region should be prime real estate.

As Burgundy grows in popularity and demand increases, we have seen the forward thinkers of the past generation arrive in the Maconnais intent on exploiting this potential. And slowly, appellation by appellation, the results confirm the obvious. Quality is on the rise.

Most of the production here is white. In fact, there is a village in the north of the region called Chardonnay, and many think this is the birthplace of the variety. But there is a substantial production of red as well, notably parcels of very old Gamay that no one paid much attention to until recently.

The appellation system is fairly complicated, essentially because every village eventually wanted to use its own name on the label. What was once one large appellation called Macon-Villages morphed into a couple of dozen appellations named ‘Macon + the name of the village’. Some produce only white, most make both colors, and one, Macon-Serrieres, only red.

As the push to quality grew, so did the need to set appellations apart from the base wines. And so Saint Veran was born of what was originally white Beaujolais. The appellation Viré-Clessé evolved from Macon-Viré and Macon-Clessé. And old Pouilly-Fuissé added Pouilly-Loché and Pouilly-Vinzelles to make the quality statement clear.

Everyone agrees it is complicated, and many now think there will be a revision at some point, with the addition of premier cru status to certain quality production zones. The Mâconnais is on the move and will be an expanding source of reasonably priced Burgundy for the foreseeable future.

Shop this Region

Beaujolais

x

Until Beaujolais Nouveau arrived, it was much easier for Burgundy to consider Beaujolais as one of its own. Despite the fact that it has a completely different soil make-up, uses a totally different grape variety, and is in reality not in Burgundy at all, Burgundians have always had a soft spot for Beaujolais.

These readily apparent differences are a distinct line of demarcation between the regions. And most would say for
the better. The gamay grape grown on Burgundy’s limestone soils produces a boorish wine. So much so that Philippe le Hardi, one of the Dukes of Burgundy, declared in 1395 that the ‘base and unfaithful gamay’ should be kept south of Macon.

And right he was. Not that gamay is base. But that it should be grown on the type of soils that start to appear just to the south of Macon: granite. In fact, planted there and nurtured in the Beaujolais’ warmer climes, gamay produces a wine that is very complementary to the Burgundy style. And in that sense, the borders slip away. And the similarities come to the fore.

As with pinot noir in Burgundy, Beaujolais is one of the few regions producing wines with one grape only (there is some pinot in Beaujolais, but is being phased out for regional purity and will be gone by 2015). There is Beaujolais white, but it, like Burgundy, is chardonnay.

Red Beaujolais is broken down into four categories: the Beaujolais Cru, Beaujolais Superieur, Beaujolais Villages and the notorious Beaujolais Nouveau.

In the north of the region, over mainly granite terrain, the Beaujolais Crus form a meandering path. From south to north, Brouilly is followed by Côte de Brouilly, Régnié, Morgon, Chiroubles, Fleurie, Moulin-à-Vent, Chénas, Juliénas and Saint-Amour. Many of these wines are apt for aging, and in many cases can show the structure, finesse and complexity of their neighbors to the north. Some in fact are easily confused with pinot noir as they age.

Further south the soils turn to clay and sandstone, and it is here that the brighter, lighter early-drinking Beaujolais Villages are produced. Fermentation by carbonic maceration marks the style of these wines, making them aromatic and fruit forward.

The method consists of vatting whole uncrushed grapes and covering them with a layer of carbon dioxide. The fermentation starts inside the skin of the grapes which then rupture and release fresh grapey fruit flavors.

It should be noted that harvesting must be done by hand in the Beaujolais. It is only logical, but where this is the case, the potential for quality increases.

Shop this Region

Chablis

x

Burgundy, for the most part, is a contiguous whole. A narrow band of vines running from Dijon in the North to Macon in the south with a few gaps and bulges along the way. But Chablis and its satellite villages lay a couple hours’ drive to the northwest. Yet, while producers of Chablis may think otherwise, the rest of the world considers this an important part of Burgundy too.

Chablis is unique. It is the perfect confluence of grape, rock and weather. Chardonnay likes to come to maturity slowly, and Chablis, at the northernmost limit of possibility, obliges. Add a touch of kimmeridgian clay for that river rock minerality, and you have something to make the world take notice.

It’s hard to imagine that a hundred years ago, Chablis and the countryside around lay barren of vines, victim of a sap-sucking aphid called phylloxera. Hard to imagine too how it might have been before the blight. Nearly all of the hillsides in the region rise from rivers that flow into the River Yonne, a tributary of the Seine which flows, of course, through Paris.

Before phylloxera, Chablis – and not just Chablis but the entire region – supplied table wine for Paris. An ocean of simple wine was produced in these valleys and transported to the capital via the waterways. Naturally, the economy was devastated when the vines began to die. But the worst was yet to come.

A solution was eventually found to combat phylloxera, but nothing could stop the coming of the railroad. Once the sunny south was linked by rail to Paris, wine production shifted to where the growing conditions were predictable, and the wines of the Yonne disappeared.

But not entirely. Chablis had a reputation and was to keep the flame alight. Still, it took a half century and more before the region was back on its feet.

Over the years, winemakers have gone back to the slopes that were known to produce good wine in the past. Irancy was a favorite of the Parisian café chic, and today is forging a reputation for its avant-garde pinot noir production.

And other traditional vineyards of the region are rising from the ashes. Tonnere, Vezelay, Coulanges-la-Vineuse, Saint Bris, the Cote St. Jacques in Joigny have all rebounded and are waiting in the wings.

Shop this Region

Côte de Nuits

x

As you drive south out of Dijon and through the suburban sprawl, you come to Marsannay. Off to the right, in the distance on the hillside, you catch a first glimpse of the vineyards of the Côte d’Or. Here begin the ‘golden slopes’, the heartland of Burgundy wine production.

And from here until you hit the limestone quarries at Corgoloin about 15 miles further south, you will traverse arguably the most famous vineyards on the planet. This is the Côte de Nuits, the northern half of the Côte d’Or,
and your itinerary will read like a world-class wine list.

Next stop, Gevrey-Chambertin. And if you turn right at the light and wend your way through the village, you will end up on the Route des Grands Crus. From here you won’t need a map. Pass through the grand cru Chambertins and the Clos de Beze towards Morey-St. Denis with its treasures, Clos de la Roche, Clos St. Denis, Clos de Tart.

You are in a vein of rock here that produces some of the finest red wine in the world. Carry on to tiny Chambolle-Musigny with its Bonnes Mares and Les Musigny, and out the other side to the Clos de Vougeot and the Echezeaux. It’s one legendary piece of land after another until you reach Vosne-Romanée and the pilgrims’ destination, Romanée-Conti.

On to Nuit-St.-Georges which gave its name to the Côte de Nuits, and where traditionally the region’s business was transacted. It’s a pretty little town, but most of the attention here is turned towards the land around. As we pass into the no-man’s-land of hard rock quarries, you note that we drove that distance in under a half an hour; and that was with gawking tourists.

It puts Burgundy into perspective. World famous wines. Such tiny villages. Such a narrow strip of land.

Shop this Region

Côte de Beaune

x

In terms of wine and wonder, Beaune is the capital of Burgundy. An architectural gem from the late Middle Ages built on a rabbit warren of cellars, Beaune is in every sense an old-style market town, humming with the business of Burgundy. Giving its name to the surrounding Côte de Beaune, the town traditionally represented the whole of the region.

But things have changed of late. As Burgundy’s reputation has grown, the villages of the Côte de Beaune have had ever-increasing cachet. Today it’s not the villages, but the vineyards within those villages that capture the world’s attention. The notion of ‘terroir’, that every vineyard is unique because the soil beneath it is unique, has come to define Burgundy and its wine.

The present-day map of the Côte de Beaune is definitely large-scale. From atop the Corton mountain to the north of Beaune you can see the villages of Aloxe-Corton and Ladoix down the eastern flank. Pernand-Vergelesses is round the other side. Savigny-les Beaune is in the distance. But in each of these villages there are dozens and dozens of vineyards – grand cru, premier cru, village appellations – each named and each held in greater or lesser esteem.

And so it continues as you head south through Beaune into the vineyards beyond. We speak broadly of wines from Pommard, Meursault, Volnay, from any of the villages of the Côte de Beaune. And here again it is true: the road map reads like a wine list. But the geological complexity beneath these villages pulls us even closer. Where does Pommard end and Volnay begin? That’s easy.

You can taste it.

Shop this Region

Côte Chalonnaise

x

Boundaries exist for many reasons. They can delimit regions that are older than memory, or simply be expedient lines drawn on a map. History and geography, but also politics and favoritism, create boundaries. Wine regions are no different. As you head south out of Beaune you are forced, almost without knowing it, to choose one of two roads that flank the hills around the castle at La Rochepot. People who built such strongholds knew what they were doing. They chose strategic sites in areas of passage, frontiers. And it’s not far from here that the Côte de Beaune abruptly ends and the Côte Chalonnaise begins.

Though the soils remain much the same and the slopes have similar exposures to the sun, here we lose
the continuity of the Côte de Beaune, the hillside drops away.

The wines of the Côte Chalonnaise are produced in and around five distinct villages separated one from the other by agriculture other than vines. And each of these discreet outcrops produces a style apart.

Being the poor cousin, ‘not the Côte d’Or’, has always been a struggle. Turned towards the river port of Chalon sur Saône and the industrial towns along the canal, the Côte Chalonnaise traditionally produced simple wine. But in the latter half of the last century, the ever-increasing popularity of Burgundy allowed winemakers here to dream of grander things. These days, the region gets ‘discovered’ every few years or so, based on the driving work of a handful of serious producers.

Tucked away, a stone’s throw from the canal which is the northern border of the Côte Chalonnaise, is the village of Bouzeron. Winemakers here made the audacious decision to apply for a village appellation based on wines made, not from pinot noir and chardonnay, but from aligoté. Aligoté is considered the second white grape of Burgundy, inferior to chardonnay. And it is usually treated that way. But give aligoté some respect, give it a decent vineyard, and it can be one of the great surprises in Burgundy wine.

Just to the south is Rully, producing more white than red, both showing charm and fruit. The whites are aromatic and apt for early drinking. The reds are less tannic than their neighbors to the south, but they have a distinctive style, their perfume is their charm. Extensive premier cru vineyards in Rully produce wine worth cellaring.

Further along, Mercurey is the biggest town in the region. It sits in the bottom of a dome, encircled by its vineyards. Many say that Mercurey is the Côte d’Or in miniature, with complex terroir that produces wines that resemble many found further north, both red and white. Here there is great potential, and premier cru vineyards produce wine worth looking for.

Givry too has great potential. More so with red than white. There is a vein of premier cru that deserve notice for a style that is unmistakably Givry. Here several producers have driven the appellation, and the reputation is such that fewer and fewer people these days confuse it with Gevrey!

And further south are Montagny and Buxy. The vineyards here have the same exposition as those in the northern part of the Côte Chalonnaise, but the subsoil is different and more apt for white. The region has the potential to produce wine worthy of the name Burgundy, but over the years politics has stymied progress. Someone, for example, thought that it might be a good idea to allow Montagny to call any wine a premier cru if it has alcohol higher that 11.5%! And for better or worse, the cave cooperative system has flourished here, with the well-run Cave de Buxy being by far the largest producer in the Côte Chalonnaise. Several small producers stand out, and the future looks bright.

 

Shop this Region

Mâconnais

x

No other region of Burgundy has seen such intense interest and investment over the past generation as the Mâconnais. An impressively beautiful region ringing the western side of the city of Mâcon above the River Saône, the Mâconnais traditionally produces inexpensive wine, often in bulk.

With the exception of Pouilly-Fuissé, which put itself back on the road to quality early on, the region has been slow to capitalize on its strengths. However, with a limestone subsoil similar to that of the Côte d’Or, slopes with excellent
east and south faces and above all a much warmer climate than its neighbors to the north, the region should be prime real estate.

As Burgundy grows in popularity and demand increases, we have seen the forward thinkers of the past generation arrive in the Maconnais intent on exploiting this potential. And slowly, appellation by appellation, the results confirm the obvious. Quality is on the rise.

Most of the production here is white. In fact, there is a village in the north of the region called Chardonnay, and many think this is the birthplace of the variety. But there is a substantial production of red as well, notably parcels of very old Gamay that no one paid much attention to until recently.

The appellation system is fairly complicated, essentially because every village eventually wanted to use its own name on the label. What was once one large appellation called Macon-Villages morphed into a couple of dozen appellations named ‘Macon + the name of the village’. Some produce only white, most make both colors, and one, Macon-Serrieres, only red.

As the push to quality grew, so did the need to set appellations apart from the base wines. And so Saint Veran was born of what was originally white Beaujolais. The appellation Viré-Clessé evolved from Macon-Viré and Macon-Clessé. And old Pouilly-Fuissé added Pouilly-Loché and Pouilly-Vinzelles to make the quality statement clear.

Everyone agrees it is complicated, and many now think there will be a revision at some point, with the addition of premier cru status to certain quality production zones. The Mâconnais is on the move and will be an expanding source of reasonably priced Burgundy for the foreseeable future.

Shop this Region

Beaujolais

x

Until Beaujolais Nouveau arrived, it was much easier for Burgundy to consider Beaujolais as one of its own. Despite the fact that it has a completely different soil make-up, uses a totally different grape variety, and is in reality not in Burgundy at all, Burgundians have always had a soft spot for Beaujolais.

These readily apparent differences are a distinct line of demarcation between the regions. And most would say for
the better. The gamay grape grown on Burgundy’s limestone soils produces a boorish wine. So much so that Philippe le Hardi, one of the Dukes of Burgundy, declared in 1395 that the ‘base and unfaithful gamay’ should be kept south of Macon.

And right he was. Not that gamay is base. But that it should be grown on the type of soils that start to appear just to the south of Macon: granite. In fact, planted there and nurtured in the Beaujolais’ warmer climes, gamay produces a wine that is very complementary to the Burgundy style. And in that sense, the borders slip away. And the similarities come to the fore.

As with pinot noir in Burgundy, Beaujolais is one of the few regions producing wines with one grape only (there is some pinot in Beaujolais, but is being phased out for regional purity and will be gone by 2015). There is Beaujolais white, but it, like Burgundy, is chardonnay.

Red Beaujolais is broken down into four categories: the Beaujolais Cru, Beaujolais Superieur, Beaujolais Villages and the notorious Beaujolais Nouveau.

In the north of the region, over mainly granite terrain, the Beaujolais Crus form a meandering path. From south to north, Brouilly is followed by Côte de Brouilly, Régnié, Morgon, Chiroubles, Fleurie, Moulin-à-Vent, Chénas, Juliénas and Saint-Amour. Many of these wines are apt for aging, and in many cases can show the structure, finesse and complexity of their neighbors to the north. Some in fact are easily confused with pinot noir as they age.

Further south the soils turn to clay and sandstone, and it is here that the brighter, lighter early-drinking Beaujolais Villages are produced. Fermentation by carbonic maceration marks the style of these wines, making them aromatic and fruit forward.

The method consists of vatting whole uncrushed grapes and covering them with a layer of carbon dioxide. The fermentation starts inside the skin of the grapes which then rupture and release fresh grapey fruit flavors.

It should be noted that harvesting must be done by hand in the Beaujolais. It is only logical, but where this is the case, the potential for quality increases.

Shop this Region
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