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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- 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.
- 2016 Domaine David MoretRully0.75l WhiteNew€27.20 €22.48Produced in the northen most village of the Côte Challonaise the grapes were gently pressed before they were fermented and underwent the malolactic fermentation in oak barrels and then aged for 15 months. Fresh, quite overt Chardonnay nose, a little austere in the attack and then rocky and dry with good acidity and fruity persistance.. On the finish the fresh fruit mixes with notes of oatmeal and honey. This is a very good wine with lovely purity of fruit.
- 2016 Domaine David MoretSaint-Romain0.75l WhiteNew€30.30 €25.04Saint Romain is located in a valley to the west of Auxey-Duresses in the direction of the Hautes Côtes de Beaune where just over half the production is white wine. After both the alcoholic and malolactic fermentation in 25% new oak barrels, the wine is aged for 12 months in oak and a further 6 months in bottle. The wine is dry with notes of honey, acacia blossom and almonds on the nose. Floral notes develop on the palate then pear, almonds and a touch of quince. A lovely wine with lingering mineral notes.
- Chassagne-Montrachet0.75l Red€33.00 €27.27Pretty and soft in the nose with aromas of redcurrant and blood orange; juicy and fresh with lovely concentration mid palate; flavours of pata negra and spice. Long and fine.
- Léo Meursault0.75l WhiteNew€38.15 €31.53What a lovely way to celebrate the arrival of your first grandson – and in a great vintage too! This village Meursault comes from the top part of the Meursault vineyards where the soil is rocky and steep. Never great fans of oak, the domain has chosen to vinify this wine entirely in stainless steel and it is wonderful to see the acidity and the fresh structure of the climat shine through the ripe, fruity Chardonnay flavours. A tiny cuvée for those who like their Meursaults as natural and pure as they can get. On the finish there is a richness that comes through due to the fact that they wine was aged on its lees and bottled without fining.