Burgundian Wine: A Primer

Wine has been an integral part of life in this region for centuries, and the importance of wine in Burgundy's history and culture cannot be understated.

Burgundy stretches from Auxerre in the North to Macon or Lyon in the South, depending on whether or not you consider Beaujolais to be a part of Burgundy. The huge region produces a wide variety of wines; everyone will find something that satisfied their palate. Read our little Burgundian wine primer below, or pick up one of our recommended wine guides to learn more. We also leave a few guides on French wine in each our houses, since we know that it's not always convenient to bring books on holidays with you.

Northern Burgundy: Around Auxerre

The area around Auxerre is best known for Chablis, a white wine made from primarily Chardonnay grapes. Less fruity and more acidic than North American Chardonnay, Chablis is a sophisticated and refreshing, and is a wonderful complement to escargot and other lighter Burgundian dishes.

Central Burgundy: The Cote D'Or

The Cote d'Or, home of all of our properties, lies south of Chablis. It produces almost entirely Pinot Noir and Aligote red and white wines, respectively. Its Pinots are delicate and complex, and are among the most sophisticated wines in the world, while its Aligotes are great on their own or mixed with cassis for a pre-dinner kir (also a Burgundian invention).

The Cote d'Or has a reputation for producing some of the best and most expensive wines in the world. While we won't argue that they are among some of the best, we will argue with the idea that enjoying these wines has to be an expensive enterprise. We have spent many years drinking our local wines, and have learnt that price isn't always the best indicator of a wine's quality. In fact, if you know where to go tasting and don't get overwhelmed by Burgundy's complicated classification system, you won't have a hard time finding wonderful wines for very affordable prices. We leave a list of our favorite places to go tasting at each of our properties, and a bottle of excellent local wine to start you off on your trip.

Maconnais & the Beaujolais

Further south are the regions of Maconnais and the Beaujolais, easy day trips from any of our properties. The Maconnais region produces some easy-drinking whites from Chardonnay grapes, the best among them being from the town of Puilly-Fuse. Beaujolais is best known for the its fruity reds, made from the Gamay grape, and those from the appelations of Saint-Amour, Moulin a Vent, and Morgon amongst others. If you are ever in Beaujolais during November, be sure to pick up some Beaujolais Nouveau - a Bradbury family favorite that is not meant to be aged, but rather intended to be drunk immediately - handy if you can't possibly carry another bottle home.

Other Burgundian wines

Depending on where you are in Burgundy, you will also be able to find Pinot Gris and Pinot Blanc wines, although they are less common than wines made from Chardonnay grapes.

Finally, if you want to add a bit of sparkle to your life, try Burgundy's lesser-known Cremant, a refreshing sparkling wine made from a blend of Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay or Pinot blanc, and Aligote. Our family loves it, and it is also great with cassis - a Kir Royal.