If knock you over the head with a massive wood block kinda Chardonnay is not your style, then Burgundy is where you need to go. Burgundy, located in Eastern France, West of the Saône River is known for elegant, dry, Chardonnays that focuses more on fruit. Burgundy uses oak for mouthfeel and maturity. Yeah, they make reds too, but today, I’m talking only Chard. If you want to taste what I consider to be the best Chardy in the world, then take note of these Burgundy Travel Tips and get ready for the wine trip of a lifetime.
Burgundy Travel Tips
When one thinks of Burgundy one may imagine vast parcels of land covered by vines. This is somewhat inaccurate. Sure, Burgundy is a large winemaking region, but it is composed of lots of tiny producers who are in love with their land and grapes. These winemakers and viticulturists have generations of wine in their blood. Burgundians are not the “snooty” Parisians everyone imagines France is populated by. Burgundians are gentle, sweet farmers. When asked what else they would be doing if not winemaking will respond with a simple…” this is all I know, and this is what I do”.
Burgundy has the most appellations d’origine contrôlée (AOCs) in France. Their producers are incredibly focused on terroir. There are over 400 types of soil in the region. This variety, combined with each winery’s winemaking style results in a myriad of styles all unified by elegance and minerality. Burgundy AOCs are classified from Grand Cru vineyards (with the toughest denominations) to regional appellations and Vin du Pays.
Here’s the breakdown on Burgundy Wines
Made at the best vineyards as defined by the AOC laws. Grand Cru wines make up only 2% of the production and are aged at least of five years. Grand Cru only lists the name of the vineyard as the appellation (example Chassagne-Montrachet) and plus the term “Grand Cru”.
These come from high-quality vineyard sites and make up 12% of production. They are aged at least three years. Premier Cru wines have the name of the village, Premier Cru, and (most of the time) the vineyard name on the label (example, “Chablis 1er Cru Vaillons”). At times, they are made from various Premier Cru vineyards in the same village, so they do not show the name of an individual vineyard.
These wines are made from a blend of wines from vineyard sites within one of the 42 villages, or from one unclassified vineyard. Village makes up 36% of production. These are considered the “entry level” wines. Village labels will have the village name, such as “Pommard”. Some villages in Burgundy have appended the names of their Grand Cru vineyards to the original village name, for example, “Aloxe-Corton”.
These wines are made in the entire region, or in an area larger than individual villages. Here, you will also find rosés and sparkling wines, as well as other grape varietals. Here’s the breakdown on these:
- AOC Bourgogne: A “generic” appellation for red or white wines made in the region, they are similar to Villages and are perfect for everyday drinking.
- Subregional appellations: Made from grapes of areas larger than a village, like Mâcon-Villages.
If you want to taste some Burgundy Chardonnays during your trip, you can visit the city of Beaune. Many of the larger Negociants have tasting rooms there. However, I suggest you make friends with locals. Chances are they will be friends with at least one of the area’s smaller producers. This is where the true beauties are found.
Where to Stay When Visiting Burgundy
Beaune is my fave city in Burgundy. It’s sleepy and quiet unless you go there during the Hospices de Beaune wine auction in November. If you go during this event, expect to pay a premium for lodging and make sure to make reservations way ahead of time. Restaurants book early, especially Michelin starred ones. Beaune’s starred restaurants offer fantastic lunch deals, so make sure to take advantage of these.
A bigger city than Beaune with a proper train station. Plenty of great restaurants and things to do. While I prefer Beaune, Dijon is quite lovely – so maybe you want to split up your trip between the two.
Wineries to Visit
Their 49€ tasting gets you a taste of 8 wines, 5 reds, and 3 whites. They have other tastings that include more high-end wines, but if you are a beginner, this is a great place to start,
One of the best selling Burgundy brands, this is another fun place to visit and you’ll get to taste wines that are not available stateside. A private tour is 20€ per person.
Here, you can taste wines from different wineries. Your tastings can consist of anywhere from 3-11 wines. Tastings are priced around 27€.
Have other questions about Burgundy? Ask in the comments. Always happy to help out.