Discover Burgundy

The fruit of a long history, Burgundy and its wines are renowned around the world.
Whether you are a convinced oenophile or a passionate beginner, Burgundy knows how to offer you its flavors, the beauty of its landscapes and its terroir.

The history of Burgundy

Human presence

Humans have been present in what today constitutes Burgundy since the Lower Paleolithic, around 3 million years ago.

Wine consumption

The oldest known vestige linked to wine in Burgundy is the 1100-liter Cratère de Vix. It dates from the 6th century BC. AD and was discovered in Vix in Côte-d'Or.

It is the most important vase found in all antiquity. It is also one of the oldest remains known to date, linked to the conservation and consumption of wine in Burgundy and France.

The first vines

It is not known today precisely who introduced the first vine plantations in Burgundy.
However, from 50 AD, wine-growing was mastered in what would become the Burgundy region.
The first writings on the Côte d'Or vineyard date from 312 AD.
Cratère de Vix
The "Cratère de Vix" vase.

The vineyard today

Clos de Vougeot
Clos de Vougeot

The territory

The land of the Côte de Nuits and Côte de Beaune vineyards stretches for 69 km, from Dijon to Chagny.

They face east to welcome the first rays of the sun.

The men

The vineyard lands attracted indigenous populations (Celts) before Roman colonisation.

During the time of Charlemagne (ninth century), the policy of land-clearing by monks freed new lands received as donations from religious communities to accommodate the increase in population.

The monks (Cistercians of Cîteaux Abbey, among other communities) are often the spearheads of this new agrarian conquest.

The origin of "climats"

The free peasants or serfs give names to the different plots acquired through their labor in order to find their way around, orient themselves and communicate.
These names express the geology, geography (valley, hill, wetland, etc.), shape, location, owner's name, etc.

In the 14th century, the toponymy of localities was practically stopped and dates from the feudal period. It reflects the life of these lands, tirelessly worked for over a millennium.

The vine was superimposed on the farm from the 10th century but has nevertheless kept the toponymy of localities. Thus the maps of the vineyards of Burgundy: "Côte de Nuits" and "Côte de Beaune" are a living image of the history of this land.

The origin of the name

The first kingdom bearing the name of “Burgundy”, regnum Burgundiæ in Latin (“kingdom of Burgondie”), is the work of the Burgundians and dates from 411 AD.

The Burgundy State

A few centuries later, the company of the Dukes of Valois deeply marks the history of the territory of Burgundy. 

It is now a State, and Philippe le Hardi, Jean sans Peur, Philippe le Bon and Charles le Téméraire make it a great European power which includes present-day Belgium and Holland and which becomes the rival of the kingdom of France.

Having become royal under Louis XI, the French part of Burgundy keeps its States and its Parliament, thus preserving its individuality until the French Revolution.

The economy

Its economic history is based on agriculture and forestry.

Land of breeding, Burgundy is famous for Charolais meat, poultry, cheeses, but also for its wine regions which give birth to legendary wines.

In 2020, the wine industry represents around 2.8% of the GDP of the Bourgogne Franche-Comté region.
Le duc de Bourgogne Philippe II le Hardi
The Duke of Burgundy Philippe II le Hardi.
Photo Nuits Saint Georges
Nuits-Saint-Georges.

The production

Annual production is around 1.45 million hectoliters, 60% of which is white wines, 29% red and rosé and 11% Crémant de Bourgogne.

1% of this production is classified in the Grands Crus appellation, 47% in the Villages or 1er Crus appellation.

Today there are 84 appellations, 33 Grands Crus, 44 Villages and 1er Crus, 7 Regional.

Terroir

The wine-growing region is divided into "climats". This term is used in Burgundy to define a locality dedicated to viticulture.

It is a delimited and hierarchical geographical denomination, constituting, in part or in full, one or more appellations, assimilated to a wine-growing region. The place characterises the wine, and conversely, the wine characterises the place.

There are 1,443 climates in the whole of the Burgundy vineyard.

UNESCO

Since July 5, 2015, 1443 climates of Burgundy are classified as World Heritage by UNESCO.

In Burgundy, the term “climat”, when used with reference to a specific vineyard, indicates that it has had the same name and delineation for centuries, and which produces a unique wine, with a specific vinification. The climats of the vineyards of Burgundy have been listed on the UNESCO World Heritage List since 2015 as a part of a cultural landscape, shaped by man for 2000 years, which has become the model of viniculture of terroirs for the whole world.

They constitute the heart of the “Exceptional Universal Value” of the vineyard, and are exhaustively represented on our two maps, Côte de Nuits and Côte de Beaune.

The wine

"No wine is so earthy as the red wine of Burgundy that in the
warm glow of the candlelight and in the white reflection of the
snow was the odour of soil, the crimson and gold hue of the Côte
d'Or hills at sunset."
Extract from "Kaputt" by Curzio Malaparte (1944)
“The wines of the Côte de Nuits are generally seen as firm, structured, powerful with good aging potential; those of the Côte de Beaune as supple, tender, elegant and less suited to long aging. But the actual differences are never as striking, the tasting notes are never as distinct, and the vintages never entirely respectful of those definitions…
It is undeniably difficult to create a great Burgundy for three essential reasons:
First, the wines of Burgundy are made from a single grape variety – Pinot Noir for the reds and Chardonnay for the whites – and if the variety’s unique vegetal cycle is perturbed by the weather or by human incompetence there is no other grape at its side, as in Bordeaux for example, to compensate for its shortcomings.
Second, these proudly solitary varieties grow in terroirs with extremely varied soil types, slopes, altitudes and orientations. Therefore, they produce grapes of unequal quality.
Third, each winegrower and vintner has his own methods that he hopes will attain perfection.
The wines of Burgundy come from vineyards with micro-geology and microclimates, where viticulture is practiced by myriad small winegrowers and the transformation of the juice into wine depends on every detail of the vinification.”

Extract from “Climats et lieu-dits des Grands Vignobles de Bourgogne - Atlas and history of place names”, by M-H Landrieu-Lussigny and S. Pitiot - Éditions du Meurger, 3rd ed., 2019).
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