Burgundy wine is considered to be the world’s finest and most prestigious – a claim that is often reflected in the price with some of the most expensive bottles ever produced hailing from this relatively small region in eastern France.
Burgundy, or Bourgogne, has more appellations d’origine controlees (AOCs) – the French geographical classification of quality – than any other wine region in the country, and that’s not where the differences end. Unlike other regions in France, Burgundy wine is not made from blends but almost exclusively from two grapes that originate from the area: Pinot Noir for the red wines and Chardonnay for the whites, although varietals such as Gamay and Aligote are also grown in some vineyards.
And, while other regions in France focus their attention on the ‘vigneron’ or winemaker, Burgundy concentrates exclusively on the soil or ‘terroir’. These soils, which carry high levels of limestone, are the secret behind the elegant, aromatic and complex character of Burgundy wine.
Burgundy vineyards are settled along the Cote d’Or – a 50km stretch of limestone hills with the ideal exposure and mesoclimate to encourage wine growing – in an area that is divided into five distinct sub-regions (not including Beaujolais and Châtillonnais):
Chablis – to the far north is renowned for its white wines made from Chardonnay.
Cote de Nuits – home the costliest wine real estate in the world, famed for Pinot Noir reds.
Cote de Beaune – famed for white wines that are more crisp and flavoursome than Chablis.
Cote Chalonnaise – produces more affordable wines, including Cremant sparkling varieties.
Maconnais – the southernmost and largest sub-region, largely producing aromatic whites.
Yet another difference of Burgundy wine, is a classification system that appears on the labels of bottles according to a hierarchy of four different classes:
Grand Cru – among the world’s most expensive wines, which account for only 1% of total production from just 33 vineyards including Montrachet, Romanee Conti and La Tache.
Premier Cru – these Burgundy wines accommodate 10% of production and are characterised by intense flavours that age well.
Village Wines – are named after the villages closest to the vineyards they are produced and account for 37% of the market, although they lack the oaky flavours of Grand and Premier Crus.
Regional wines – make up the remaining 52% of total production and are made from grapes grown anywhere in the region, usually labelled Bourgogne Rouge or Bourgogne Blanc.
At Wine Paths, our local expert can organise exclusive tours of Burgundy wine regions, including elaborate tastings, luxury stays, fine dining experiences and some unique activities. As well as being home to the world’s finest wines, the Cote d’Or can claim 27% of France’s historic sites, while the region’s vineyards recently being recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Among our Burgundy experiences are an exclusive six-day VIP tour that includes visiting a 15th century wine cellar, a gourmet meal with a Michelin starred chef and truffle hunting.
If time is of the essence then our day tour of the Cote de Nuits and Hautes Cote de Nuits visits three authentic Burgundy wine vineyards and wineries, including the Chateau of Clos de Vougeot, for private tastings.
For the serious enthusiast, Wine Paths’ tour of Burgundy – La Route des Grands Crus visits some of the most prestigious wine growing villages in the Cote de Nuits and Cote de Beaune, including Nuits-Saint-Georges, Vosne Romanée, Gevrey-Chambertin, Pommard, Meursault, Puligny-Montrachet.
If you're interested in one of our Burgundy Wine Tours, please visit this link.
Get all our exclusive travel inspiration and tour packages straight to your inbox!