The Burgundy Region
BURGUNDY – land of PINOT NOIR and CHARDONNAY!
If there is one area where wine is an integral part of life, that area must surely be Burgundy. As you explore the vineyards you will at the same time "drink in" all the other treasures of the region: heritage and history, nature and landscapes, winegrowers and traditions, gastronomy and the inimitable Burgundian art de vivre.
The region - BURGUNDY - land of CONTRASTS
The Burgundy wine region begins 100 kilometres south from Paris and stretches 360 kilometres down to Lyon. It is a patchwork of tiny vineyards in villages strung along a narrow valley and divided in numerous districts: Chablis, Côte d'Or (divided into Côte de Nuits and Côte de Beaune), Côte Chalonnaise, Mâconnais and Beaujolais.
It is a region of numerous soil types and microclimates and these have been identified to give 400 separate classifications. The soils are predominately limestone, clayey-limestone and marl. The vineyards cover 25,000 hectares and are divided into 99 wine appellations comprising 5,200 wine growers of which 85% of the holdings are smaller than 10 hectares. From this area they produce 180 million bottles of wine.
The pinot noir grape dominates the region's red wine particularly in the Côte d'Or where 90% of the production is red wine; while the gamay grape is grown in Beaujolais. Chardonnay is the most common white grape grown and is the focus of growers in Chablis, with aligoté being used in the region to produce cheaper white wines. The Côte d'Or is where Burgundy's most famous and most expensive wines are found, is split into two parts: the Côte de Nuits which starts just south of Dijon and extends to a few kilometres south of the town of Nuits-Saint-Georges, while the Côte de Beaune starts at Ladoix and ends at Dezize-les-Maranges. The wine-growing part of this area is just 40km long, in most places less than 2km wide, and is made up of tiny villages surrounded by a combination of flat and sloped vineyards.
Burgundy experiences a continental climate characterized by very cold winters and hot summers. The weather is very unpredictable with rains, hail, and frost all possible around harvest time. Because of this climate, there is a lot of variation between vintages from Burgundy. Hence the wines can range from pleasant drinkable wines to some of the finest and most expensive wines in the world. It is this difference that provides a wonderful incentive to personally come, explore and discover the wines of Burgundy.
What makes this a great area for wine and food lovers?
Nature has given the wine-growers of Burgundy the opportunity to use their skills and experience to produce a huge range of wines from the same grape varieties. And when it comes to food what better to serve with such nectar than the subtly flavoured, traditional dishes of Burgundy? Trout, carp, pike, perch, Bresse chicken, Charolais beef, mild or strong Dijon mustard, Burgundy snails - cuisine at its finest!
Vineyards – from terroirs of world repute to humble local plots and parcels, the vineyards of Burgundy are very accesible and welcoming.
Beaune - the ancient capital of Burgundy, which retains a large part of its original city walls. The Charity Hospital (Hotel Dieu) founded in 1443 is one of the most visited tourist attractions in France. Also see the 15th-century home of the Dukes of Burgundy, which now houses the wine museum.
Historical villages - the region was one of the major centres of Christianity in Europe and has a legacy of churches, abbeys and priories.
Fontenay - the impressive 9th-century Romanesque hilltop Benedictine abbey church of Sainte-Marie-Madeleine.
Cormatin - 17th-century stately home with sumptuous decoration inside, and grand gardens.
Chateauneuf - 14th-century castle which because of its size and location dominates the region.
Alésia - where Vercingétorix united the tribes of France, and nearly beat Julius Cesar.
Autun - with many souvenirs of its importance in Roman times.
Historical wine villages - the real charm of Burgundy is in the small old villages, nestling in the middle of the vines, with stone houses, old churches, and restored lavoirs, which have not changed significantly for generations. Favourites are Monthelie, Volnay, Aloxe-Corton, Clos Vougeot.
Canals - Burgundy has over hundreds of kilometres of canals including the 242 km Canal of Burgundy (Canal de Bourgogne). House boats and canal barges are available for hire.
Dijon - more than just mustard! Dijon is a bustling university town, which blends old and new. The old palace of the Dukes of Burgundy houses a fabulous Musee des Beaux Arts.
Unique Foods and Cuisine - in Burgundy you will experience the "Trinity" of the kitchen - beef, wine and mustard - in cuisine that is solid, substantial and served in generous portions.
BURGUNDY - the legend continues!
It has been said that every self-respecting wine connoisseur should, at least once in his life, make a pilgrimage to the source of his pleasure, to the cradle of the world's finest wines. For many BURGUNDY is their destination!
FREE TOUR ADVICE for the WINE REGIONS of FRANCE
If you would like some friendly help to find the right wine tour then contact us for recommended tours, guides and options.
Visit the Contact Us page for more information