Any wine lover who has absorbed lots of Burgundy wine information (and hopefully Burgundy wine) over time will harbor a desire to visit this most famous of French wine regions.
Situated in Eastern France, Burgundy (or Bourgogne in local parlance) is unashamedly the most terroir conscious wine region in the country. Rightly so too, as the combination of weather, soil and tradition uniquely set Burgundy apart.
Most people associate the Burgundy wine region with red wines, and certainly this area is the center of the universe when it comes to Pinot Noir grapes. However, the area also produces wonderful white wines derived from Chardonnay grapes, as well as some sparkling and rosé wines too.
Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of wine making in Burgundy is related to the classification of the land which is home to the luscious fruit grown here. Vineyards are in fact delineated according to their terroir and there is a long history as to why this is so.
Burgundy Wine Information for Your Wine Pilgrimage
That means that once a piece of land is classified a Cru or Premier Cru, no matter who makes the wine, they have the right to use that designation.
But these classifications of land were not done via modern technology – rather they have been researched for over a thousand years by an unlikely institution – the church. From the 6th century and up until the French Revolution in 1789, when these lands were confiscated by the state and sold off to the people, these lands and their vines were tended by the monks.
They had meticulously mapped out the best growing sites – those hillsides with the right combination of soil, subsoil, exposition and climate for their grapes. These units of delineated property, which were “walled-in” vineyards, were called a “Clos.” By the time the 1930s rolled round and the appellation system came into being, Burgundy had already been mapped out like no other region in the world. Read more of this article here.
In summary, Burgundy has four main levels of wine classification with Grand Cru being at the top of the ratings.
Incidentally cru is a French word translated as growth, so Grand Cru is understandably great growth and accounts for about two per cent of total Burgundy wine production.
The lesser classifications of Burgundy wine are Premier Cru (about twelve per cent of production), Village appellation (36 per cent) and Regional appellation.
All the legalities of wine classification (and more) are handled by the AOC (Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée) which is a government body with powers dating back to the fifteenth century.
We have only just scratched the surface of Burgundy wine information and to truly do the area justice, a visit is a must.
Have you been to the Burgundy area yourself? If so, what were your impressions?
Closer to home, have you tried wines from the Burgundy region? Did they meet your expectations?