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Five Qualities that Set Burgundy Apart

From other winemaking regions in the world

As one of the world’s most renowned and historical wine regions, Burgundy’s vineyard credentials are unparalleled. With just the right amount of sun and rain, a soil rich in nutrients, and spanning a temperature range perfect for rich, delicate, and nuanced wines, producers couldn’t ask for a better climate to grow grapes in.

But Burgundy’s hard-earned reputation doesn’t come from climate alone. In this article, we cover five of the most distinctive features that put Burgundy on the map, only a few of the reasons that Burgundy is consistently ranked the #1 best wine producing region in the world.

1. Burgundy boasts the finest expressions of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay

While there are fantastic examples of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay the world around, most consider the very best to come from Burgundy. 

Perfectly adapted to Burgundy’s climate, these two grapes are native to the region. They've been cultivated here for thousands of years, and together account for 80% of Burgundy's yearly harvest.

Pinot Noir and Chardonnay are often considered ‘blank canvas’ grapes, exhibiting a wide range of subtle aromas and potential flavors depending on how and where they’re cultivated. With lots of room for error, these grapes require true expertise and dedication to bring out their finest qualities.  

Over the centuries, Burgundy’s winemakers have proved themselves amply qualified for the task!

2. Burgundy is the birthplace of Terroir

Terroir is the idea that a region’s geographic and environmental characteristics - its spring rains and summer droughts, its hills and mountains, lakes and rivers - are all expressed through its agricultural production.

The idea of terroir dates back to the tenure of the Cistercian and Benedictine monks that owned most of Burgundy’s vineyards in the Middle Ages. They diligently worked the vines year after year, taking careful note of which grapes were grown where, and gradually sectioned off the vines that produced different and unique flavors in an attempt to capture the essence of a particular area. Thus, terroir was born.

The importance of terroir has persisted in Burgundy’s wine culture, and more than any other region, Burgundy winemakers are intent on allowing the natural characteristics of their land to shine through the wine, rather than tampering with the grape to achieve personal preference or mass-market appeal.

3. Burgundy is composed of thousands of small, family owned wineries

Unlike the vast chateaux of Bordeaux, Burgundy is mainly composed of hundreds and hundreds of small, family owned vineyards. Producers are intimately connected with the land, generally working the vines themselves and personally partaking or supervising in the harvesting and winemaking processes. Family knowledge is passed down generation to generation, and winemakers begin working with grapes and wine from a very young age. 


This ownership structure and deep appreciation for the art of winemaking is a perfect complement to Burgundy’s geographic diversity, resulting in an incredible variety of excellent wines being made across the entire region.

4. Burgundy’s wine making culture goes back thousands of years

Burgundy and wine go way back. Grapes have been grown on the sunlit slopes of Burgundy since the time of the Romans, over two thousand years ago, and every successive generation has added their own influence to the mix, building upon the work of their predecessors and gradually raising Burgundy to the pinnacle of winemaking it is today.

The people of Burgundy are well aware of their history, respecting and revering the work of those who came before them. To Burgundians, wine and winemaking are not a business, but a way of life.


5. A new generation of Burgundy producers are marrying tradition with environmentally friendly agricultural practices

Burgundy growers and winemakers hold a deep respect for their land and terroir. As knowledge of the environmental impacts of modern agriculture become more and more widespread, a new generation of Burgundy winemakers have begun adopting more sustainable practices to reduce the environmental footprint of their vineyards, preserving them for future generations.

In the past ten years, official requests for organic certifications have increased by 180%, and the use of chemical herbicides and pesticides has been dramatically reduced. This figure is also an underestimate, as many producers are taking up similar practices without the expense and hassle of certification.

In many ways, these practices are returning to an older, more traditional way of producing wine, before the introduction of mass chemical use. Indeed, winemakers generally agree that vines treated without artificial herbicides are stronger than those reliant on these chemicals for protection, and this pays dividends in that organically farmed plants are more resilient and adapt better to changes in annual and longer-term climate conditions. This is a perfect example of blending culture and tradition with innovation and modern sensibilities, keeping the best parts of Burgundy thriving without harming the land in the process.

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