The Burgundy wine classification in detail
In Burgundy, home of more than 100 appellations that we call in France AOC (Controlled Appellations), having a few tools to help you understand this complex region is key.
Burgundy is a very old wine region where the location of the vineyard is very important in order to understand the wine you are drinking. Because of very complex and different types of soils all over the region, a wine tastes different from a plot of vineyard to another which can be only a few meters away. This makes it one of the most exciting wine regions for wine drinkers but it can be scary especially when the average price of a bottle is high.
In order to give you the confidence you deserve and to know what is inside the bottle before you open it, there is a classification that makes sense and is easy to read.
Please see below the Burgundy wine classification:
As you can see, with a four step pyramidal classification, Burgundy seems much easier to approach. The more you go up, the better, more complex and more expensive the wines become.
Let me give you few examples of the four levels of the classification of appellations.
- The regional appellation is the Bourgogne Chardonnay or Bourgogne Pinot Noir that is written in big on the label. It means that the vineyards used to make that wine could be located anywhere in Burgundy, therefore there isn’t any specific location written. These wines are the entry level of the region, usually nice, approachable and easy to drink.
An example in our selection: Domaine Rougeot – Bourgogne Chardonnay 2012.
- The Village appellation is for example Meursault. It means that you read the name of the village where the vineyard is located in big on the label. It makes it very easy because it gives you the exact location throughout Burgundy where the wine comes from. The wines are more complex than the regional appellations with more depth and length on the palate.
An example in our selection: Domaine Rougeot – Pommard 2011.
- The 1er Cru appellation is for example Meursault 1er Cru “Les Charmes”. For this classification, the location is narrowed to a specific area within the village itself. A 1er Cru is of a better quality than the village appellation because the vineyard is located on soils that perform much better than others. You can refer to the map of the village of Meursault below, where all the 1er Cru plots are named and highlighted in orange. There are only 10% of the total Burgundy vineyards that are classified as 1er Cru. It is very rare.
An example in our selection: Domaine Rougeot – Volnay 1er Cru “Santenots” 2011.
- Last but definitely not least, at the top of the classification is the Grand Cru appellation. For example Les Richebourgs located in the village of Vosne-Romanée. In this elite group of exceptional vineyards, only 33 in Burgundy that represent 1.4% of the total production of wine, you read the name of the vineyard in big on the label. There isn’t any direct reference to the village it comes from. You need to do a bit of research for these Grand Cru. These wines are rarely available and are extremely good quality. They usually rank between $120 to $8,500 or more in Australia.
Please see below the map of the village of Vosne-Romanée, where a lot of Grand Cru are located, all of them being red wines made out of Pinot Noir grapes. We don’t have any Grand Cru available for now but we are expecting some towards the end of the year!
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