Burgundy (also known as Bourgogne), located in eastern central France, is one of the most famous wine regions in the world. The most expensive and prestigious Burgundy wines are produced from just two main grape varietals – Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. The famous dry, red Burgundies are made from Pinot Noir while the white wines are made from Chardonnay.
In terms of overall wine production, white wines account for 61% of all production, compared to 31% for red wines and 8% for sparkling wines. There are five primary growing areas within Burgundy: Chablis (which is often referred to as a separate wine region), Côte de Nuits, Côte de Beaune, Côte Chalonnaise, and Mâconnais. In addition, Beaujolais is formally part of Burgundy, but like Chablis, is often treated as a completely separate growing region for the Gamay grape.
In any discussion of Burgundy wines, terroir is of the utmost importance. Burgundy considers itself to be the original home of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay and rigorously divides the region into very specific growing areas. The most famous of these is the Côte d’Or, which includes all the Grand Cru classifications in Burgundy.
There are two parts to the Côte d’Or – the Côte de Nuits (red wines) and the Côte de Beaune (white wines). This peak growing area is about 25 miles long but just 1.2 miles wide. There are tiny villages and vineyards set against hillsides. Generally speaking, the higher up the hillside, the more prestigious the vineyard.
Winemaking in Burgundy dates all the way back to the arrival of Romans in Gaul in 51 B.C. Since then, it has been written about and described by famous individuals throughout history, including Erasmus and Shakespeare (who mentions Burgundy in “King Lear.”)