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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- Les Charmes Mâcon Lugny0.75l WhiteNew€10.45 €8.64This attractive and well-made wine has a pale golden yellow colour, a light perfume, with fresh, delicate fruit of pear, kiwi and melon. Vinified in temperature controlled stainless tanks without aging in oak, this wine has a fine vein of minerality which leads to a charming, refreshing finish.
- Chablis Village0.75l White€12.75 €10.54Our friends Jean-Marie and Bernard Raveneau, producers of the finest Chablis in the world, introduced us to Domaine de la Genillotte when we were searching for a well-priced village level Chablis. We have been listing this very pretty wine for many years now and the quality remains consistent year after year. The 2015 has a pale lemon-gold colour; a richly scented and vibrant nose with notes of orchard fruits and white flowers; the palate is round, fruity with a lovely fresh persistence.
- 2015 Domaine des ValangesCuvée Hors Classe Saint-Véran0.75l White€15.10 €12.48The Paquet family created the Domaine des Valanges in the 1980s and over the years have been able to expand their vineyard holdings over several other appellations. Their children, Matthieu and Camille have now formed a separate domain with Camille as the winemaker and managed to take over this vineyard in a fermage agreement in 2015. What a year to begin and what a lovely wine! This is a sunny, happy wine reflecting the fine summer weather of this vintage. The nose is expressive and aromatic with notes of acacia flowers, blossom and sweet fruit. On the palate the wine is generous, round and fruity with notes of spice, a touch of anise and then lovely, honeyed concentration. This is a very pretty Chardonnay with lots of personality where freshness and richness meet and blend superbly together. There is a bright future ahead for this domain.
- 2016 Domaine des ValangesLes Cras Saint-Véran0.75l White€15.50 €12.81Those of you who have already tasted the super St. Vérans from Domaine des Valanges, will enjoy tasting this wine from a small 1 1/2 hectare single vineyard site. The vines face south, south-east and are grown on stony, limestone soils. Vinified for 60% in tanks and 40% in oak barrels and allowed to age for nine months on the lees, only 9,000 bottles of this wine are produced each year. There is lots of perfume and fruit on the nose making the wine immediately inviting with rich Chardonnay notes balanced perfectly with a mineral freshness – clearly the influence of the limestone soil. Quite opulent on the palate, this is a superb Chardonnay combining lovely fruit and finesse. A superior bottling to be served with poached fish, white meats or refined first courses.
- Terra Mea Pouilly-Fuissé0.75l White€16.15 €13.35Produced from Chardonnay grapes grown in limestone with pockets of clay, this expressive wine has lovely freshness and minerality. The aromas of exotic fruits – pineapple and mango mix well with white flower blossom and a hint of almonds. The palate on this very successful 2015 is vibrant, generous and beautifully fresh with a well-rounded, soft texture in the mouth. An ideal match for white meats, seafood and shellfish.
- Terra Mea Pouilly-Fuissé0.75l White€16.50 €13.64Françoise et Nicolas run this estate by themselves and their attention to detail and their old vines are the secret behind the quality of their wines. They pick their Chardonnay grapes quite late to bring out the character of their terroir, use only indigineous yeasts and carefully age the wines in their fine lees. We are very impressed by the concentration and precision of the 2016 vintage. It shows beautifully ripe fruit, rich aromatic notes of pear, almond blossom, linden and citrus fruit, great freshness mid-palate and a round, balanced finish. A lovely wine which tastes much grander than its appellation. Serve with white meat, fish and seafish.
- 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.