Burgundy’s Cote d’Or is divided into two distinct regions: the Cote de Nuits in the North and the Cote de Beaune in the South, throughout which there are countless exceptional vineyards for red wines.

As the most northerly fine red wine region in Europe, Burgundy produces incredibly fragrant, fruity, low-tannin and light-coloured red wines. Considered to be one of the greatest wine regions in the world, there are a select group of communes which are best known for producing great red Burgundy, including Gevrey-Chambertin, Nuits-Saint-Georges, Vosne-Romanée and Chambolle-Musigny in the Cote de Nuits, with Beaune, Pommard and Volnay in the Cote de Beaune. It is important to note that Burgundy’s classification is different from Bordeaux. Whilst the 1855 Classification of Bordeaux ranked individual Chateaux or producers (based on price), in Burgundy it is the land itself which is classified. This is split into four ascending grades: Bourgogne, Village, Premier Cru and Grand Cru. Burgundy also differs from Bordeaux in that one vineyard may be split and owned by several different producers, although a few monopoles do exist (e.g. La Tache is owned 100% by Domaine de la Romanee-Conti).


Gevrey-Chambertin is found in the very North of the Cote de Nuits and is a red wine-exclusive appellation. As the largest wine producing village in the whole Cote d’Or, it is little surprise that Gevrey-Chambertin has become synonymous with high quality Pinot Noir. Almost 200 years ago, the village of Gevrey was the first in Burgundy to adjoin the name of its most celebrated vineyard (Chambertin) in 1847. There are nine Grand Cru vineyards and 26 Premier Cru sites in the commune’s 400 plus hectares, with many of the best plots at higher altitudes away from the Gevrey-Chambertin itself. The wines produced here are bright and fruity in their youth, however, are primarily made for ageing, often for extended periods of time, thanks to the firm structure, tannins and texture.


With only a few plots planted to Chardonnay, Nuits-Saint-Georges is another of Burgundy’s famed red wine communes. Sharing its name with the Cote de Nuits region in which it is situated, the most famous wine-brotherhood in Burgundy, the Confrérie des Chevaliers du Tastevin, was founded here in 1934. Although there are no Grand Cru sites here, the 41 Premier Cru offerings are divided by the town itself, with clear differences observed in the wines. These are well balanced, structured wines that benefit from several years of cellaring to round them out.


Even if you are new to Burgundy as a region, it is highly likely that Vosne-Romanee is on your radar. Named as the “central pearl in Bourgogne’s necklace” by the celebrated historian of the French countryside, Gaston Roupnel, Vosne-Romanee is home to the greatest and most expensive Pinot Noir vineyards in the world. The appellation boasts 14 Premier Cru and 8 Grand Cru sites which are found on the East and South-East facing slopes that have greater proportions of limestone, contributing to better drainage in these areas. Amongst the Grand Crus are Romanee-Conti, La Tache, Romanee Saint-Vivant, Richebourg and Grands Echezeaux, all of which command great respect (and great prices) the world over. The wines are renowned for their incredible balance between intensity, power, finesse and elegance, setting them apart from other appellations in the Cote d’Or.


Chambolle-Musigny has historically been described as the most ‘feminine’ of wines in the Cote de Nuits, with descriptors including delicate, elegant and subtle frequently used to express the wine’s nature. The charming Bonnes Mares and the incomparable Musigny are the two Grand Cru vineyards here and produce some fantastically complex wines. Out of the 24 Premier Cru sites in Chambolle-Musigny, Les Amoureuses is the most historic (and one of the most historic in the whole of France) having received its AOC status in 1936. Violets and small red fruits are the tell-tale signs that you’re drinking Chambolle-Musigny, combined with a durable structure and texture.


The capital of Burgundy’s wine trade, Beaune is one of the best-known towns in the region. In addition to hosting the annual Hospices de Beaune wine auction, the area produces both red and white wines at exceptional quality across its 42 Premier Cru sites. The vineyards are extensive and cover a range of soil types, from Argovian marls to limestone mixed with clay. Many well-known producers are based in Beaune, including Domaine Louis Jadot, Maison Joseph Drouhin and Maison Camille Giroud to name a few, with the finest vineyards being Clos des Mouches and Les Greves.


Another ‘red-only’ appellation, Pommard is located in the Cote de Beaune, where red wines are (in general) lighter than those from the Cote de Nuits. In the 19th century, Pommard was regarded as a forceful red that was a deep, dark red colour, with Victor Hugo likening it to “night in combat with day”. However, modern vinification techniques have transformed the wines of Pommard into rich yet delicate and fruit-filled expressions of Pinot Noir and the iron-rich clay soils in which it grows. Comte Armand’s monopole, Clos des Epeneaux, is found here alongside 28 other Premier Cru sites, counting Les Rugiens and Les Epenots among the best known.


The final Cote de Beaune appellation on our list is Volnay. Covering over 200 hectares of Pinot Noir vineyards, Volnay has 29 Premier Cru sites which vary from delicate, and fruit driven to muscular and warm, with colours ranging all the way from bright ruby to light garnet. An historic town, the wines of Volnay have been favoured for centuries with the product of harvests appeasing the Knights of Malta, the Dukes of Bourgogne and their successors, the Kings of France. In the vineyards, the deeper and more gravelly soils are found at the foot of the slope, which give way to oolitic limestone (pink in colour with pale green inclusions) and banks of schist as one reaches the area’s top altitude of 280m.

As the 2022 Burgundy En Primeur campaign gets into full swing this month, make sure to keep an eye on all of the new releases and our recommendations for the vintage.

Related Posts