Burgundy, in eastern France – or referred to as Bourgogne if you’re French - is a highly regarded wine region that has honoured winemaking traditions for centuries. In fact, viticulture, according to archaeologists dates all the way back to the first and second century AD under Gallo-Roman influence.
When it comes to climate, Burgundy hits the sweet spot, offering cool temperatures in the winter and plenty of sun exposure in the summer, making it a perfect environment for ripening grapes. The soil in Burgundy also obtains beneficial qualities due to its vastly varied character and mineral levels that enriches the Chardonnay or, equally, the Pinot Noir – the two wines that Burgundy is most notable for. The diversity of the vineyards soil also affects the types of grapes that grow there. Soil containing more limestone is likely to produce grapes for white wines, whereas soil with a majority marl existence (a mixture of clay and limestone) will produce grapes for red wines.
The region of Burgundy itself is simply breath-taking. The five luscious vineyards that runs from north to south, covering almost 300 kilometres, are: Chablis and Grand Auxerrois, Côte de Nuits, Côte de Beaune, Côte Chalonnaise and Mâconnais. The vineyards in the southern parts, Côte de Nuits (north) and Côte de Beaune (south), are in the area of Côte D’Or – which translates to Golden Slope. It is here where the Grand Cru vineyards are located and where Burgundy historically produces the finest and most prestigious wines. Approximately over 200 million bottles of wine are produced in Burgundy annually and out of all the regions in France, Burgundy has the most appellations d’origine contrôlée (AOCs). This means that French wines, cheeses, meats and other agricultural produce have been certified and approved by French governmental standards at all stages of manufacture in a geographical defined area.
Despite its generous production of wine, Burgundy still only makes up about 3% of French planted vines. There are two primary grape varieties in Burgundy: Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Both are world-renowned for their high-quality taste and sophistication and can proudly call Burgundy their place of birth. These grapes are from the Pinot family of grape varieties and pair well with a variety of meat and fish dishes. Other grape varieties found in the region are Gamay (mostly used to produce red wines or rosé) and Aligoté. But Burgundy wine is usually made from one grape variety named mono-cépage.
Burgundy wines are broken up into four distinct classifications:
Regional wines are exactly that, wines of the region, and are the lowest classification out of the four. Grape varieties used for these wines are picked from different vineyards from a diverse selection of villages within Burgundy. The qualities of these wines are of a great standard and bottles can be found sporting their regional classification labels. They make up around 50% of wine production in Burgundy.
Village (Communical) wines differ from Regional wines in that they use grape varieties that are from the same villages. A village may be Côte de Beaune, Nuits St Georges or Mercurey, to name a few. Village wines represent around 36% of production and are a somewhat higher quality than the Regional wines. It offers more focussed flavours due to the grapes coming from the same village. You can find the name of the village the wine has been produced from named on the bottle.
Premier Cru wines narrow it down even further as their grape varieties are from one single vineyard in a certain village and are labelled as such on the bottle. They have stricter restrictions and offer an even higher level of quality which is evident in the increase in price when compared to the other lower classifications. These wines make up 12% of Burgundy’s production and typically age for three to five years.
Grand Cru wines are the highest classification of the four meaning you can expect supreme quality from these wines. They make up just 2% of wine production in Burgundy and are only produced from the best vineyards. Grand Cru wines are unrelentingly sought after by wine collectors. Their rarity and elegance make Grand Crus incredibly expensive. You can expect a Grand Cru wine to have been aged for five to seven years before it hits your tongue.
Noteworthy producers of Burgundy wine, big and small, include names such as Domaine Dujac, Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, Bouchard Père & Fils, Domaine Billaud-Simon, Château-Fuissé and Domaine Faiveley. Each offers the high-quality wine you should expect from a Burgundy producer. Wine producers like Domaine Dujac, who have been in operation since the late 60s, continues to faultlessly deliver fresh, elegant red and white wines. Others producers have a much earlier history of wine production like Château-Fuissé, who began as early as 1862. They harvest by hand and are known worldwide to always deliver exceptional, flavour-driven wine.
A lot of Burgundy’s preserved history and culture can be found in its three most popular museums. Musée des Beaux-Arts is located in Dijon, in the eastern wing of the Palais des Ducs and is showcased amongst the best art museums in France. It exhibits several collections from the 12th to 19th century. Think Renaissance Burgundian sculptures, ancient Egyptian figurines and medieval paintings. Other Burgundy museums include Musee du Chatillonnais, which contains the largest bronze vase in the world, weighing in at an astounding 208 kg. But if it’s wine that truly interests you, then head over to Musée du Vin de Bourgogne and discover spectacular winemaking history and wine artefacts sure to not disappoint.
The two closest airports to Burgundy are Charles de Gaulle airport situated north of Paris and Orly airport located south of Paris. Both airports offer practical routes to Burgundy whether you decide to rent a car or commute by public transport.
Driving from Orly to Dijon in Burgundy will take approximately 2h 47m on the fastest route on the A6. It is approximately 308 km away.
Commuting to Dijon in Burgundy from Orly airport using public transport will take 6h 5m using the fastest route according to Google Maps.
Take the Ouibus to Paris - Etoile/Champs Elysées before getting the train to Paris Gare de Lyon. From here, you will get on the TVG train 6755 Besançon-Viotte and take it to Gare de Dijon. This journey will take just over three hours.
France’s currency is the Euro. Currently, £1 equates to 1.12 Euro and $1 equates to 0.86 Euro cents.
Visit Burgundy in the height of autumn between September – November. The weather is cool enough to comfortably enjoy the vineyards in all of its rich, seasonal colours.
Four or five days is a good amount of time to spend in Burgundy depending on what you would like to see and do. Explore the wine museum, Musée du Vin de Bourgogne and visit the idyllic villages in and between Beaune and Dijon.
Medieval Festival: Expect craft markets, medieval-themed performances, live music and horse-racing in Semur-en-Auxois.
Les Montgolfiades: Every May the European Hot Air Balloon competition takes off with over 50 competing teams. Expect additional entertainment on the day like games, shows and music.
Blues Festival: Every year since 1996, there is a blues festival that occurs in the last weekend of June in Le Creusot. It’s family-friendly and always attracts a large crowd.
Sun Festival: Turn up to the Parc Nutural Régional du Morvan at the Lac Des Settons and enjoy the festivities. Enjoy a wide range of sport activities including canoeing, horse-riding, Frisbee, mountain biking and more. As well as art, live music and performances.
Foire Internationale et Gastronomique de Dijon: This is the international food festival in France, offering plenty of top quality food and wine stalls, as well as clothing and furniture.
D’Jazz Nevers: This jazz festival has been going since 1987 and will entertain you with more than 25 spectacular performances throughout Nevers and the département of La Nièvre.
Grands Vins de Bourgogne Festival: Alas, this is the festival of wine that takes place in the idyllic Beaune. Treat your palate to more than 1,500 different types of wines and meet wine producers from near and far.
Whatever your preferences, timescale or budget, a unique bespoke tour can be created by the travel experts here at Winerist, for you. Simply email firstname.lastname@example.org or speak to Catherine or Céline on 020 7096 1006.