The wines of Burgundy are divided up into 100 different appellations from the most generic, Burgundy appellation to the smallest Grand Cru of La Romanée.
The soils of Burgundy are distinguished by a patchwork quilt of different soils on bedrock of ancient limestone. Many centuries ago, the sea covered this area and many fossils and shells can be found in the soils. Winemaking here goes back to the Romans in the First Century but it was the Catholic church with its abbeys and monasteries that first began to exploit the riches of the Burgundy soils, especially the large hillsides running north to south, which they called the golden slope or the “Côte d’Or”. The French Revolution and the Napoleonic code changed Burgundy forever, giving the land back to the people and then making sure that family land was divided equally amongst the heirs. Burgundy producers with their small vineyard holdings, pride themselves on their attachment to the land: many practice sustainable, organic or biodynamic viticulture.
The two main grape varieties are Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.
There are four categories of Burgundy wines:
Regional Appellations: These account for over half the wine made in Burgundy. A wine labeled Bourgogne Villages or Bourgogne Appellation Communale is an AOC produced in one of the six Burgundy regions such as Côtes de Nuits or in one of the three sub regions such as Mâcon. To these can be added 14 geographical names such as Bourgogne-hautes-côtes-de-nuits.
Communal Appellations: There are 41 of these, also known as village appellations such as Chablis or Volnay. They represent one third of all Burgundy wine.
Premiers Crus: These account for 10% of production and must have the communal name, followed by the climat which has Premier Cru status such as Vosne Romanée Premier Cru “Les Beaux Monts” or Chambolle Musigny Premier Cru “Les Cras”. There are 562 premier cru climats.
Grands Crus: These account for a tiny 1.5% of all Burgundy. There are 34 AOC grand cru climats in the Côte d’Or such as Clos de Vougeot or Montrachet and one grand cru in the Yonne which groups together the seven Chablis Grand cru climats such as Chablis Grand Cru “Blanchots” or Chablis Grand Cru “Valmur”.
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- 2017 Famille PaquetLe Mont Mâcon-Solutré-Pouilly0.75l White€12.85 €10.62This is a very small parcel of one third of a hectare that the Paquet family managed to take over in 2015. They have made this wine their own with its very bright, sunny character and fruity flavours of ripe Chardonnay encompassing fresh pears, melon, summer blossom and a spiciness on the finish. The wine is aged on its lees for just over a year which gives the wine a pretty, honeyed, round flavour. Well focused where freshness and richness meet and blend well together.
- Chablis Village0.75l White€13.20 €10.91This is a super Chablis, inspite of the hail which ravaged the region. Very good aromas of pear, zest, citrus and chalky limestone. On the palate the wine seems sweet and fruity and then becomes more serious with more structure, citrus flavours and good body. Very bright and vivacious, this is an attractive wine with very good balance and persistence.
- 2018 Famille PaquetSaint-Véran0.75l WhiteNew€13.39 €11.07This was the first wine we bought from the Paquets at their Domaine des Valanges and it remains a favourite. Attractive and fruity with notes of pears, apples, melon, orchard flowers and a lovely mineral spiciness on the palate. Rich and quite full on the palate, this is a lovely Chardonnay with pure character and verve. Lovely wine at a very good price.
- 2017 François de NicolayBouzeronVillage 0.75l WhiteNew€15.00 €12.40The appellation goes hand and hand with the Aligoté grape and here it finds a beautiful expression. The colour is light straw. The nose is honeyed and rich with aromas of acacia and spring flowers and salty oysters. On the palate there is generous fruit, flinty mineral notes with nice energy and floral qualities. In the finish, the salinity comes back to give the wine a refreshing end note.
- 2016 Domaine des ValangesEn crèches, Hors Classe Saint-Véran0.75l White€15.50 €12.81This domain is going from strength to strength and the family is constantly looking for and finding great parcels of vineyards around the small winegrowing village of Davayé nestled at the foot of the Solutré Rock. New cellars, new vineyards and ambitious winemaking have resulted in some super wines. The “En Crèches” parcel faces south east, is sheltered from the north wind, has clay and fossilized limestone soils and lies at an altitude of 250 metres: a superb microclimate. The Chardonnay vines are over 60 years old and produce a fabulous wine with great minerality and tension. There is depth on the palate with honey, oatmeal, good oak and lots of vivacity. Unfortunately hailstorms in April destroyed much of the 2016 crop so there is less of this wine than usual so it is well worth reserving a few bottles for drinking for the next few years.
- Vieilles Vignes Pouilly-Fuissé0.75l White€18.69 €15.45This is the domaine's flagship wine and is produced from its oldest vines (75 years old) grown on the best climats in Fuissé. It undergoes very long fermentations, a proportion of which are in barrel, and has notes of honey, almond and orchard fruits, a very pretty persistence and beautifully fresh Chardonnay characteristics. We have quite a struggle to get hold of this wine, as it is much prized around the world for its beautiful Burgundian character and lovely persistent finish. A perfect match for fish, poultry and cheeses such as comté or chèvre.
- Bourgogne0.75l Red€21.76 €17.98This wine takes on depth with time but for the moment we love it for its easy drinking yet quite full-bodied fruit character with lots of strawberry and cherry fruit. You can see the quality of its origins in the spicy minerality which seems to mark all of the wines from this estate. A lovely, fruity red Burgundy