A brief timeline
Winemaking goes back to the Romans in the 1st century AD.
The monks of Cîteaux, after clearing the lands they received as donations and planting them to vines starting in the twelfth century, played a crucial role in making the wines of Burgundy famous.
The splendid court of the dukes of Burgundy further supported and promoted these wines, which finally got noticed by Louis XIV.
At the end of the 18th century, the Revolution
caused a general dissolution of property, a phenomenon that was then magnified by subdivision within families. Today this fragmentation is one of the distinguishing characteristics of the vineyards of Burgundy.
In Burgundy there is a hierarchical classification system:
Grands Crus appellations
Grands Crus appellations are the "elite" of Burgundy wines. They are produced on the most famous plots. The same Grand Cru can be grown in several towns, as is the case of Corton Grand Cru which is produced in the communes of Aloxe Corton, Ladoix-Serrigny and Pernand Vergelesses.
The bottle must include the mandatory reference "Grand Cru".
Only red Grands Crus can be followed by the name of the “climat” from which the wine originates (for example: Corton Grand Cru - Les Bressandes).
In Côte de Beaune, there are 8 Grands Crus: Corton, Corton Charlemagne, Charlemagne, Montrachet, Chevalier-Montrachet, Bâtard-Montrachet, Bienvenues-Bâtard-Montrachet, Criots-Bâtard-Montrachet...
Romanée-Conti is certainly the most famous of Burgundy’s Grands Crus appellations. Only a select few can get their hands on some as the average production is just 5980 bottles per year.
Premier Cru appellations
Within a communal appellation area, plots, which are also called "climats", have been established and classified as premiers crus (literally, first growths), particularly with regard to the consistency of their quality.
For example, the plot "les Marconnets", located in the Beaune appellation area, is classified as 1er cru.
Beaune is the largest appellation (by area) in the Côte d'Or and has 42 plots classified as premiers crus.
The bottle must be marked "Appellation 1er cru contrôlée" with the name of the town (for example: "Appellation Beaune 1er Cru"). The name of the plot is not always specified on the label.
Examples of Premiers Crus appellations: Beaune 1er Cru "Les Marconnets", Beaune 1er Cru "Les Cents Vignes", Volnay 1er Cru "Les Caillerets", Pommard 1er Cru "Les Rugiens", Meursault 1er Cru "Les Perrières", Savigny-lès-Beaune 1er Cru "Les Peuillets", Santenay 1er Cru "La Comme".
There are 44 communal appellations. The wine then carries the name of the village in whose area it is produced.
Examples of communal appellations: Beaune, Savigny les Beaune, Auxey-Duresses, Saint-Romain...
These exist throughout Burgundy’s wine-producing region. On the bottle, you’ll find the word "Bourgogne" (Burgundy).
Examples of regional appellations: Bourgogne Aligoté, Bourgogne Hautes Côtes de Beaune, Crémant de Bourgogne.