Say oui to Burgandy wines! Red or white, wines from Burgandy offer something special, whether you drink them as is, pair them perfectly, or use them in cooking.
As a wine lover, you need to know all about what you’re drinking, and this guide is here to help.
What Is Burgundy Wine?
Located in the eastern part of France the Burgundy region produces some of the most highly acclaimed wines in the world. The exceptional quality of Burgundy wine is due to the perfect combination of climate and soil found in this area.
These natural elements give Burgundy wine its distinctive character that has made this small region so famous. Wines in this region are classified according to the specific soil type of the vineyard as this plays such an important role in the quality of the wine.
The main two cultivars produced in Burgundy are Pinot noir for red wine and Chardonnay for white wine. Both these types of grapes have become world renowned as a result of their long relationship with this region.
How Is Burgundy Wine Made?
Due to the small size of vineyards in Burgundy, there is a much greater focus on quality rather than quantity. In contrast to other parts of the world where machine harvesting is the norm most winemakers in Burgundy still harvest their grapes by hand.
Pinot noir is known to be one of the most difficult and sensitive grapes to grow and handle, which is a big part of the allure of this red wine. Once the grapes are harvested, they are placed in vats to mix the clear juice with the red grape skins. This gives the wine its beautiful final colour.
For Chardonnay, the grapes are pressed immediately after harvesting and the skins are discarded. Most white Burgundy is aged in oak barrels to add colour and flavour to the wine. Burgundy wines are produced differently from other regions as they undergo a second fermentation process.
What Does Burgundy Wine Taste Like?
Burgundy red wine is usually lighter in colour than other reds due to the thin skins of the Pinot noir grape. The intense fragrance of this wine only improves with age and can vary from floral notes to a deep earthiness. As a medium-bodied wine, the taste is generally delicate, smooth and somewhat dry with fruity notes of cherry.
Burgundy white wine can have a wide variety of colours ranging from dark gold to much lighter pale yellow. The Chardonnay grape owes its flavour to where and how it was produced rather than having a particular taste of its own. Generally, white Burgundy is light-bodied and has citrus and apple notes.
What Wines Are Similar To Burgundy Wine?
As so much of the flavour associated with Burgundy wine is created by the environmental conditions of the area it can be difficult to find similar wine. Indeed, some wine aficionados would say that no wine can compare with the refinement of good Burgundy wine!
Despite that, if you are looking for a similar wine to Burgundy red then a good choice would be to try a Californian Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot.
For a similar wine to Burgundy white, you could try a Riesling or a Viognier.
Is Burgundy Wine The Same As Pinot Noir?
Pinot noir is a variety of grape that originates from the Burgundy region in France. As most of the red wine producers in this region use the Pinot noir grape the name has become interchangeable with Burgundy wine.
This can cause some confusion as Burgundy wine producers also sometimes use a variety of grape called Gamay; although this is far less common and not of the same high quality as Pinot noir.
Pinot noir is also cultivated all over the world in a variety of places like Argentina and South Africa. These countries also produce Pinot Noir wine which just adds to the confusion!
Is Burgundy Wine The Same As Chardonnay?
Chardonnay is also a variety of grape that originated in the Burgundy region and is therefore closely associated with Burgundy white wine.
As with Pinot noir, this association is not exactly accurate as Chardonnay is also grown in many other countries all over the world.
Burgundy wine producers also cultivate a variety of grape called Aligote to produce a more rustic white wine that is far less prestigious than Chardonnay.
How To Drink Burgundy Wine
It is important to cool your Burgundy white wine to get the most pleasurable experience out of this light wine. The ideal situation is to keep the bottle in the fridge for a few hours before opening it, rather than keeping it there overnight.
This will chill the wine without allowing it to become icy cold. The ideal temperature range for most white Burgundy is 12-14° C (53-59° F). Should you be drinking a truly exceptional white Burgundy then a slightly higher temperature of 15-17° C (59-63° F) is desirable.
For Burgundy red wine the ideal temperature range is 15-20° C (59-68° F). Another important consideration is to keep the bottle upright for a couple of hours before opening it. This allows the fine sediments to settle into the bottom of the bottle.
What Are The Best Burgundy Wines?
Perhaps the most esteemed Burgundy wine is Romanee-Conti Grand Cru. This is produced by Domaine de la Romanee-Conti on a tiny vineyard of just 4.5 acres. Rare vintages of this wine have been sold on auction for over half a million dollars!
Another two examples of exceptional Burgundy wine are Domaine Leroy Musigny Grand Cru and Domaine Georges & Christophe Roumier Musigny Grand Cru. The average price per bottle of both these wines is over $10,000.
Best Burgundy Red Wines
For a more affordable wine that is still widely recognised as top quality, a good choice would be Domaine Denis Mortet with their Gevrey Chambertin 1er Cru Les Champeaux 2003.
Of similar quality and reputation is Domaine Tollot Beault with their Corton-Bressandes Grand Cru 2009.
Best Burgundy White Wines
With such a huge range of exceptional white wine coming from Burgundy the following choices offer a combination of quality and affordability.
The Domain Marius Delarche Corton-Charlemagne produces Cote de Beaune Grand Cru which is a well-regarded Chardonnay.
Should you prefer a Chablis then a top choice would be to try the Chablis Grand Cru produced by William Fevre Bougros Cotes de Bouguerots.
What Food To Pair With Burgundy Wine
The dry and light-bodied flavours associated with a white Burgundy are a perfect match with seafood simply cooked in butter. For a delicious pairing try an oak aged white Burgundy such as Meursault with sautéed salmon.
With a younger white Burgundy that has not been oak aged, such as Chablis, the delicate flavour of scallops or white crab meat is sensational.
For young Burgundy red wine, a similar light touch is needed to not overwhelm the wine. A medium aged red, such as Marsannay, pairs well with roast lamb.
Well-aged red Burgundy like Gevrey-Chambertin is robust enough to pair with heavy sauces and pairs well with game.
Best Burgundy Wines For Cooking
Cooking with Burgundy wine is as good as pairing it properly, and it’s an excellent idea as these wines tend to be lighter bodied and have a low sugar content. This means that their flavours won’t overpower your ingredients or caramelise when you heat them up.
When cooking a chicken-based dish with butter the combination of Chardonnay works beautifully to compliment the light flavours. Chardonnay is also a great Burgundy wine to add to a creamy pasta sauce. Make sure to use an unoaked Chardonnay as oak aged wine can become bitter when you cook with it.
For a meat-based dish such as beef stew, the best Burgundy red wine to cook with is Pinot Noir. The wine will help to tenderise meat, and the spice notes will add an extra level of flavour to your stew.
Is Burgundy Wine Expensive?
Due to the variation in terroir, or environmental factors, each sub-region in Burgundy has a distinct flavour profile associated with its wine. Many of these small vineyards are recognised as producing some of the finest wine in the world.
Prices can be over $10,000 a bottle for these exceptional wines. A significant part of the appeal of these world-class wines is their scarcity.
As with most wine-producing regions, there is a full range of prices for Burgundy wines. There are plenty of other more affordable wines that are within a modest budget range. So, you’re sure to find a bottle to pair with, cook with, or simply enjoy on its own!