Monthly Archives: September 2016

The Best Beginner Guide of Burgundy Wine


For many experienced drinkers, French wine should be the indispensable components back in your beginners’ days, Bordeaux, Burgundy or Bourgogne are the most essential ones on every wine list.


There are more than 100 Appellation d’Origine Controlee in Burgundy which is the highest number in France, but the permitted grapes are just Pinot Noir, Gamay, Chardonnay and Aligote, while Pinot Noir and Chardonnay produce the majority of wine. Despite this, even most wine are produced from single varietal, they smell and taste hugely different, the reason for this is that Burgundy is the most terrior-influenced region, and in this case, terroirs include climate, weather, soil, orientation and their interactions. Burgundy is affected by continental climate where there is hot summer and cold winter, and rain, drought and hail attack the region as well, therefore vintage difference for Burgundy wine is a very dominant factor which decide the price. A burgundy wine from a good vintage will usually be speculated, it is not rare that the prices rise for ten or even a few hundred times.


Burgundy can be divided by 5 main regions: Chablis, Côte de Nuits, Côte de Beaune, Côte Chalonnaise and Mâconnais. Although Beaujolais is also located in Burgundy, normally we do not include it when refer to Burgundy wine.


In Bordeaux, a certain classification is awarded to a specific winery or chateau, but it is in Burgundy that the classification is awarded to a certain piece of land or vineyard, regardless of the producer or winery. As a result, the largest fonts on a Burgundy wine label should be the name of region, rather than the producer or winery.


Besides Chablis, vineyards are classified into the following: Grand Cru, Premier Cru / 1er Cru, Village and generic regional Bourgogne. In Chablis, there is Petit Chablis below village class.


Cote d’Or is make up of Cote de Nuits and Cote de Beaune, all Grand Cru outside Chablis are found in Cote d’Or, whose area is just about 2% of Burgundy. In 2010 the total production is only less than 2.5 million bottles which is about 1.3% of total production. The less the wine is available, the higher the prices, this is just a very simple economic theory. Grands Échezeaux, La Romanée, La Tâche, Richebourg, Romanée-Conti, Corton, Montrachet are all the familiar names of grand crus. These crus are usually slopes where there is suitable amount of sunlight with good drainage, high quality grapes can be produced. Moreover, strict rules concerning viticulture and vinification are imposed to producers to ensure quality. These grand cru wines are low yield good quality ones with great ageing potential of at least 15 to 20 years. Their prices will rise rocket high if they are produced by some quality domaines. They are good wine for investment.DRC-LaTache

The quality of Premier Cru wines is also widely recognised with its nearly 2 decades of ageing potential and price rise expectation, as premier cru wine only make up of about 10% of total Burgundy production. The sequence of wording of a premier cru wine label is first the village name followed by premier cru status and lastly the name of vineyard, for example Volnay 1er Cru Les Caillerets, but there are also some examples of not mentioning the vineyard name as the wine might be a mix of different crus. There are a lot of premier crus in Nuits St. George, Vosne Romanee and Pommard, the prices are quite dear if produced by quality producers.


Some drinkers find it complicated to differentiate among different classes of burgundy wine, as the name of the best plot of land will be added to the name of village, thus Le Chambertin is added to Gevrey to form Gevrey-Chambertin, Le Musigny is added to Chambolle to become Chambolle-Musigny, Le Montrachet which stretches through Puligny and Chassagne and therefore Puligny-Montrache and Chassagne-Montrachet.

To be clearer about the classification, here is another example of the hierarchy:

Gevrey-Chambertin is a village wine;


Gevrey-Chambertin Premier Cru Les Cazetiers is a premier cru / 1er cru wine;


Le Chambertin Grand Cru is a grand cru wine.


There is huge difference in price among different classes of wine, so do not overlook the words of Premier Cru / 1er Cru / Grand Cru.


Recently French wine regions were hit by severe climatic situations, such as hot waves in Bordeaux and hail in southern areas. Champagne and Burgundy were also attacked by spring frost too, it is believed that Burgundy will be the spotlight of the whole world since wine production for the 2016 vintage should be a challenge for them to combat the natural disasters.

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