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Burgundy is one of the most celebrated wine regions in the world, located in eastern France. It is known for its exceptional wines, unique vineyards and a history dating back to Roman times. The region is known for producing some of the best and most sought-after wines, particularly Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, and is a top destination for wine lovers.

Subregions of Burgundy

Burgundy is located in the central-eastern part of France. It covers a relatively small area compared to other renowned wine regions, but its diverse terroirs and microclimates have made it a focal point for wine production. The region can be divided into five major sub-regions:

Chablis: Chablis is located in the northernmost part of the Burgundian wine region, in north-central France. It is located about 180 kilometers southeast of Paris. Chablis has a continental climate, which means it has cold winters and warm summers. Climate is a crucial factor in shaping the character of Chablis and contributes to their fresh acidity and vibrant flavors. Chablis is known for its unique Kimmeridgian soil, a type of limestone rich in marine fossils. This characteristic soil composition gives the wines a strong mineral character, often described as stony or chalky. Chardonnay is the only grape variety used in Chablis wines. The Chardonnay expresses itself differently here because of the terroir and produces wines that are typically light, fresh and mineral-driven. Chablis is organized in a hierarchy of appellations, the most prestigious of which are the Chablis Grand Cru and Chablis Premier Cru. There are also regional appellations Chablis and Petit Chablis, which offer a range of quality and styles. Chablis Grand Cru are the highest level Chablis, produced from grapes grown in 7 Grand Cru vineyards. Notable Grand Cru vineyards include Les Clos, Blanchot and Vaudésir. They produce intense, complex and age-worthy Chardonnays. Chablis Premier Cru includes vineyards such as Montée de Tonnerre, Vaillons and Fourchaume. Wines from Premier Cru vineyards are highly regarded for their finesse and often exhibit a balance of fruit and minerality.

Côte de Nuits: The Côte de Nuits is located in the northern part of the Côte d'Or. It extends from the city of Dijon to the city of Corgoloin. The climate in the Côte de Nuits is continental and is characterized by cold winters and warm summers. The region benefits from a unique combination of factors, such as latitude and east-facing vineyards, which enable the production of exceptional Pinot Noirs. The Côte de Nuits has a wide variety of soil types, including limestone, clay and marl, which contribute to the complexity of the wines produced on different vineyards. Pinot Noir is the dominant grape variety in the Côte de Nuits and thrives in the terroir, producing red wines that are highly regarded for their elegance, finesse and ageability. The Côte de Nuits is home to numerous prestigious wine appellations, each with its own unique terroir and character. Notable appellations in the Côte de Nuits include Echezeaux, Gevrey-Chambertin, Nuits-Saint-Georges, Vosne-Romanée and Chambolle-Musigny.

Côte de Beaune: The Côte de Beaune is located south of the Côte de Nuits in the Côte d'Or. It stretches from the city of Beaune to Santenay and is known for its diverse terroirs that suit both Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. The climate in the Côte de Beaune is similar to the rest of Burgundy, with a continental climate characterized by cold winters and warm summers. It benefits from a variety of microclimates, allowing the production of high quality wines. The soils in the region vary, including limestone, marl, clay and gravel. The Côte de Beaune is known for the production of both Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. The specific grape variety grown depends on the appellation and vineyard. The Côte de Beaune is home to many prestigious wine appellations, producing some of the world's best Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Notable appellations in the Côte de Beaune include Meursault, Chassagne-Montrachet, Chevalier-Montrachet, Batard-Montrachet, Puligny-Montrachet, Volnay and Pommard.

Côte Chalonnaise: The Côte Chalonnaise is located in the southern part of the Côte d'Or. It extends from the town of Chalon-sur-Saône to the Mâconnais. The climate in the Côte Chalonnaise is also continental, with some variations due to its location south of the Côte de Beaune. This results in slightly warmer temperatures and a longer growing season. The soils of the region are diverse and consist of limestone, clay and marl. Although not as well known as the soils in the Côte de Beaune and Côte de Nuits, they still play an important role in shaping the wines. The Côte Chalonnaise produces both Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. The Côte Chalonnaise has several appellations, such as Mercurey, Rully, Givry and Montagny, each with its own terroir and characteristics. These appellations often offer a good balance between quality and affordability.

Mâconnais: The Mâconnais is located in the southern part of the Burgundian wine region in east-central France. It extends from the city of Mâcon to the northern border of the Beaujolais region. The climate in the Mâconnais is slightly warmer than the northern Côte d'Or, which allows for riper Chardonnay. The region benefits from a more temperate climate, making it suitable for early-ripening grape varieties. The Mâconnais has a mix of limestone and clay-rich soils, which provide ideal conditions for growing Chardonnay. The combination of soils influences the flavors and style of the wines. Chardonnay is the most important grape variety in the Mâconnais. The region is known for its white wines, which are generally more accessible and fruitier than those from the Côte de Beaune. The Mâconnais includes several well-known appellations, such as Pouilly-Fuissé, Pouilly-Vinzelles, Saint-Véran and Macon-Villages. Pouilly-Fuissé is the best known appellation and produces some of the highest quality Chardonnays in the Mâconnais.

Terroir in Burgundy

Burgundy is known for its diverse soil types, each of which contributes its own characteristics to the wines. The soils of the region include limestone, clay, marl and gravel. The best-known soil type in Burgundy is the Kimmeridgian limestone, found in Chablis, which lends a distinct mineral quality to Chardonnay. Different areas in Burgundy have their specific soil compositions, and winemakers believe that these soils influence the taste and texture of the grapes. Burgundy has a continental climate, which means it has cold winters and warm summers. The climate has a major influence on the ripening of the grapes and the overall quality of the wine. For example, the combination of moderate temperatures and a long growing season is ideal for the slow ripening of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, resulting in complex and aromatic wines.

The region's hills, valleys and slopes play a crucial role in the drainage and sun exposure and the overall terroir of each vineyard. The orientation of vineyards affects the amount of sunlight and heat the vines receive. For example, south- and southeast-facing slopes produce riper grapes. Burgundy's strict appellation system is designed to preserve and showcase each vineyard's unique terroir. The system classifies wines into categories such as Grand Cru, Premier Cru, Village and Regional appellations, with each designation reflecting the quality and specific characteristics of the terroir.

Grape varieties in Burgundy

The two main grape varieties in Burgundy are Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, but another grape variety is also produced in addition to these two powerhouses.

Pinot Noir: Pinot Noir is a red grape variety known for its thin skin, which makes it sensitive to the growing environment, and its relatively low color intensity. It produces red wines that are typically light to medium bodied and known for their elegance, finesse and aromatic complexity. Pinot Noir often exhibits flavors of red berries, earth, violets and sometimes a hint of spice. Pinot Noir is the most important grape variety for red wine production in Burgundy. It is grown throughout the region, but especially in the Côte de Nuits, where many of the best Pinot Noirs are produced. Some of the most famous vineyards are Romanée-Conti, Clos de Vougeot and Gevrey-Chambertin. Burgundian Pinot Noirs  vary in style, from the lighter and more delicate wines of the Côte de Beaune to the richer and more structured wines of the Côte de Nuits.

Chardonnay: Chardonnay is a white grape variety with versatility, capable of producing a wide range of wine styles. In Burgundy it is known for its fresh acidity, a variety of flavor profiles and ability to reflect the terroir. Chardonnay often has flavors of green apple, citrus, pear, mineral notes and, when aged in oak, a buttery or toasty character. Chardonnay is the main grape variety for white wine production in Burgundy and is grown throughout the region. The Côte de Beaune is particularly highly regarded for its Chardonnays, with appellations such as Meursault, Puligny-Montrachet and Chassagne-Montrachet being known for their white Burgundies. The range of Chardonnay in Burgundy is enormous. From the spicy and mineral-rich wines of Chablis to the rich, full-bodied and oak-aged offering of the Côte de Beaune.

Aligoté: Aligoté is a white grape variety that is generally light and fresh, with bright acidity. The wines often exhibit flavors of green apple, lemon and citrus, along with some herbal and floral notes. Aligoté is usually simple and refreshing, making them suitable for early consumption. The most common and recognizable expression of Aligoté is referred to as 'Bourgogne Aligoté', indicating that it is a regional wine from Burgundy. Some specific appellations in Burgundy also produce Aligoté, including Bouzeron, the only village-level appellation for Aligoté. Bouzeron is a small village in the Côte Chalonnaise sub-region of Burgundy. The Aligoté from Bouzeron is considered the best expression of this grape in Burgundy. Aligoté is also sometimes used in blends with Chardonnay in certain appellations. This is especially true in Chablis, where a small percentage of Aligoté is sometimes used in Chardonnay-based wines, adding a touch of acidity and freshness to the final blend.

Bourgogne

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