Wine Word of the Week: Burgundy

By Kori ~ April 12th, 2011.

This week’s Wine Word of the Week is Burgundy.

Official definition from Jancis Robinson’s The Oxford Companion to Wine:
Burgundy, known as Bourgogne in French, is the province of eastern France famous for its great red and white wines produced mostly from Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes respectively. The province includes the viticultural regions of the Cote de Nuits and Cote de Beaune in the département of the Cote d’Or, the Cote Chalonnaise and Maconnais in the Saone-et-Loire département, and Chablis and the wines of Auxerre in the Yonne departement. ….

Nobles, peasants, and monks cultivated the vine under Charlemagne, when political stability brought prosperity. Medieval Burgundy owes its reputation as a producer of excellent wines largely to the monks and monasteries. ….

Unlike the Bordeaux trade with its large volume of single appellations, and many stratifications of those who sell it, the Burgundian wine trade is polarized between growers and négociants, or merchants. Because the laws of equal inheritance have been strictly applied in a region of such valuable vineyards, individual growers may for example produce just one barrel, enough to fill just 25 cases, of a particular appellation. The market for burgundy was built by the merchants, who would buy grapes and wine from many different growers before blending and selling the results. ….

Layman’s terms from Kori:
Burgundy, located in east central France, is one of the most famous wine regions in the world, and high-end Burgundy wines are some of the most expensive wines in the world. As a result of the French Revolution, Burgundy was subject to strict inheritance requirements, which has led to the vineyards being divided into very small parcels. Approximately 75% of Burgundy vineyards are planted to red varieties, mostly Pinot Noir and Gamay, while the balance is planted to white varieties, mostly Chardonnay.

Filed under: French Wine, Wine Word of the Week

Reader's Comments

  1. Rick G. | April 12th, 2011 at 8:27 am

    Great article in this month’s Vanity Fair about the attempted poisoning/extortion plot at Romanee Conti, if you’re interested.

  2. Rick G. | April 12th, 2011 at 8:30 am

    the Vanity Fair article is available online:

  3. Kori | April 12th, 2011 at 10:00 am

    Great article. Thanks for sharing. Cheers!

  4. itsoffal | April 12th, 2011 at 2:59 pm

    Burgundy – like a ballerina or Tango female dancer, grace and power.
    I would use that description for german rieslings as well, although I like to compare them to the feeling you would experience as sunlight going through a church’s stainglass window.
    I had posted on Letspour my impressions of the movie Mondovino, the most loveable character to me was Hubert de Montille from Burgundy, his daughter has her head on her shoulders yet his son is a first class A-hole.

    @Rick G, thanks for the article.

  5. Kori | April 12th, 2011 at 10:03 pm

    As always, thanks for sharing your thoughts. Grace and power, a great description. Cheers!