A Guide to Burgundy Wine Classification

Burgundy, most of us are familiar with the name not because of high school geography, but because of it’s famous red and white wine. It is well known for both its red and white wines, mostly made from Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes. There are over 100 “appellations,” or approved wine-growing areas, and these are divided into 4 levels of quality:

Regional wine: Regional Wines can be made from grapes grown anywhere in Burgundy and tend to be fresh, light, and lively, making them terrific sippers or aperitif wines. You will find them labelled “Bourgogne Rouge” (red) or “Bourgogne Blanc (white).

Village wine: The next step-up is the “Village” wines, named after the towns near to where the grapes are sourced. These wines are still fresh and fruity, with little-to-no oak, but are a tad more complex.

Premier Cru: “Premier Cru” wines are from special vineyard areas within a village. These bits of vineyard are called “climats” and produce wines that are a bit more intense than the regular Village wines! This might be because of the type of soil, the way the vineyard faces the morning sun, longer ageing in oak, or a myriad of other reasons.

Grand Cru: And finally, the “Grand Cru” with famous names like Romanée Conti and a label that will proudly proclaim the “Grand Cru” status! Although they account for just over 1% of Burgundy’s annual production, these are the wines for which people are willing to pay top dollar. Bold, powerful, complex and made for cellaring, they are the epitome of both Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. There are a total of 33 Grand Cru vineyards in Burgundy.