BurgundyWine Guide

Burgundy has over 100 different appellations, numerous individual vineyards and more than 3,000 individual producers. It is located in the heart of France with a relatively continental climate, featuring cold winters and hot summers. 

To discover a wealth of information about Burgundy, click on one of the Burgundy links below.

Burgundy at a Glance
The prevailing winds in Burgundy are southerly (hot), south-west (wet), north-west (mixed) and north-east (cool, dry).

The underlying geological formation in Burgundy is clay-limestone from the Jurassic era. There are many different types - bathonian, bajocian, oolitic, kimmeridgian, portlandian and each  has its own characteristics. The endless variations possible between the type of underlying rock, the nature of the topsoil, drainage, slope, aspect to the sun etc. account for the myriad differing characteristics of the various vineyards.

The principal grapes are Chardonnay for white and Pinot Noir for red.

Viticultural Burgundy covers five regions in three departments:

  • Chablis & the Auxerrois - Yonne
  • Côte de Nuits - Côte d'Or
  • Côte de Beaune - Côte d'Or
  • Côte Chalonnaise - Saone-et-Loire
  • Maconnais - Saone-et-Loire

Total production from 26,500 hectares of vines is 1.5m hectolitres, which equates to 200 million bottles of wine. Production is two thirds white wine to one third red wine.

Burgundy Wine Trade Structure

Negociants (merchants)
Domaines (growers)
Co-operatives (esp. Chablis, Maconnais)
Historically, owners of small, fragmented vineyards found it uneconomic to make, bottle and market their own wine. Instead, they sold it to the big merchants, called negociants, usually based in Beaune or Nuits St. Georges, who would blend, bottle and market the wine to a world-wide market.

Over the past 30 years an ever-increasing number of growers are bottling their own wine, as price rises have made it economically viable to do so. Nowadays, it is generally recognised that the very best wines come from domaines, the Burgundy term for a grower's vineyard holdings.

However the major negociants are almost all significant land owners and have increasingly been concentrating on the production from their own vineyards, while many growers, unable to buy more vineyard, have been meeting growing demand by buying in some grapes and thus becoming small scale negociants.

The co-operative movement developed in the 1930s and has an important role in the less expensive parts of Burgundy. There are good co-operatives at Viré and Lugny (Maconnais), Buxy (Chalonnais) and Chablis.

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