INTRODUCTION TO BURGUNDY'S TERROIRS
The unique density of Appellations and terroirs in Burgundy constitutes the bedrock of its legendary wines, the terroir notion is imperious and deeply rooted in the tradition of winegrowing in this region, therefore the understanding of Burgundy wines cannot be alienated from the understanding of their respective Terroirs.
A Terroir is a group of vineyards that share the same geological components, the same weather conditions and sun exposure and identified under a same name for instance "La Romanee", "Les Amoureuses", "Le Montrachet". Being solely conditioned by natural elements, a terroir’s size can vary a lot, the best example being the famous Grand Cru Clos de Vougeot counting around 50 ha when the iconic La Tache is only 1 ha. The notion of terroir and the vineyard cartography as we know it today is a direct heritage of the middle age, when the Cistercian and Clunisian monks began to grow vines. Referring to their tasting experiences and geographical knowledge they empirically determined frontiers and first introduced a hierarchy between the different plots, it has barely moved since.
THE HIERARCHY OF BURGUNDY APPELLATIONS
The classification of quality in Burgundy is very different from other wine regions. When Bordeaux ranks the estates or Chateau, Burgundy ranks the lands and plots.
At the base of the hierarchy you will find the district appellation, which will always contain "Bourgogne".
Example: "Bourgogne Chardonnay", "Bourgogne Rouge", "Bourgogne Aligote", etc.
The next step in the hierarchy is the Village Appellation, where the wine is named after the name of the village it is produced.
Example: "Gevrey Chambertin", "Vosne Romanee", "Meursault".
Village Appellation Single Vineyard
After the name of the village you will sometimes find the name of the parcel the wine comes from, which means that the grapes are all originated from a single parcel or terroir, and often results in higher quality or more unique wines.
Example: Meursault, "Les Narvaux".
1er Crus Vineyards
These accounts for 10% of Burgundy Vineyards, there are around 562 1er Crus in Burgundy. Premier Crus are from village appellation, single vineyards, 1 quality wines. That’s why on the label you will find the name of the village, the “1er Cru” status and the name of the parcel or terroir the wine comes from.
Example: Chambolle-Musigny, 1er Cru, “Les Amoureuses”,
Grands Crus Vineyards
The Grands Crus represent 1.5% of the total production in Burgundy, accounting for a total of 34 Grands Crus in the region, and 33 of which are in Cote d’Or. On the label you will only find the name of the vineyard (terroir) followed by the mention “Grand Cru”.
Example: “La Tache” Grand Cru, “La Romanee” Grand Cru, “Bonnes-Mares” Grand Cru.