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Jul 14, 2011 08:37 AM

White Burgundy Tasting

Don't know if this is a dumb question but here we go. So I want to host a White Burgundy tasting at my home.  Generally for tastings I like to feature wines that have a direct relationship to each other.  From what I understand about White Burgundy there are four classifications: Grand Cru, Premier Cru, Village and Regional.  I would like to feature one or two wines from each classification that have a direct relationship to one another.  I know that virtually all White Burgundies are made from Chardonnay but I wanted to feature a terroir based relationship between the wines I choose.  Are there any common characteristics that expressed by a particular set of wines across all four classifications?    

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  1. Not virtually -- ACTUALLY all white Burgundies are Chardonnay.

    There are many differences between White Burgs, and they're very much about terroir. Chablis, the various Montrachets (there are at least 5 differently named ones - Puligny, Chassagne, Batard, Bienvenue, Bienvenue-Batard, Le Montrachet) Corton Charlemagne, the Meursaults, Macons, Pouilly Fuisse, St. Veran,

    12 Replies
    1. re: ChefJune

      No, June -- not true . . .

      St.-Bris is actually a Burgundy appellation that is produced from Sauvignon Blanc.

      Aligoté is used in wines with an appellation of Bourgogne Aligoté.

      Pinot Blanc is used in some appellations, as is Pinot Gris, and a few other grapes -- depending upon the age of the vines. That is, some cultivars have been "grandfathered" into the appellation, but are technically not allowed to be re-planted . . . that said, they somehow manage to find their way back! ;^)

      For more, see my reply directly to Chinon . . .


      1. re: zin1953

        I knew someone would mention Aligoté, but who really drinks that? Other than to mix it with Cassis for Kir?

        Where is St-Bris located? I have never heard of that in 25 years of studying the wines of Burgundy. Nor the PB/PG. Where is that, and in what wines are they blended?

        1. re: ChefJune

          Cheap Aligoté for Kir, but you should try the Bouzeron from Domaine de Villaine. It's on an entirely different level. See

          St.-Bris is an appellation just southwest of the appellation of Chablis, off the same Yonne
          River as Chablis.

          Daniel Sénard has Pinot Gris planted in his Corton vineyards. I've seen it, and spoken with him about it.

          Sénard is the only one I personally know of that has Pinot Gris planted, but other producers also have Pinot Blanc planted in some very famous vineyards within the Côte d'Or . . .

          There is a reason that Muscadet is actually made from a grape called Mélon de Bourgogne . . . it's from Burgundy! ;^) There is also Pinot Beurot, which has way too many synonyms to list.

          For more info, see

          1. re: zin1953

            <There is a reason that Muscadet is actually made from a grape called Mélon de Bourgogne . . . it's from Burgundy! ;^)>

            But when was it last GROWN there? I know Muscadet is made from Mélon de Bourgogne, but it's grown in the Loire.

            1. re: ChefJune

              And if you look hard enough, you'll still find some planted there . . . honest!

              1. re: ChefJune

                The story of how melon de Bourgogne got to the Loire is interesting. I believe it was in 1609 during the mini ice age that it was so cold the ocean froze. Most of the vines died in the area so they brought in the white grape at the time from Burgundy.

              2. re: zin1953

                Goissot makes a tasty St.-Bris. K&L has carried in the past, first as a direct import. Great stuff.
                De Moor makes some great Chablis and I've heard their St.-Bris is excellent, too. I have not tried it.
                I believe, like Burgundy, it undergoes malolactic fermentation and it is also fermented in oak. So it's quite a bit different than other sauvignon blanc.
                I love de Villaine's wines but I've never tasted one of his aligote that I like.
                To the OP, I think the biggest task would be finding a wine that hasn't shut down. I understand that the 2008s, which were fantastic in their baby fat, have shut down pretty hard.

              3. re: ChefJune

                "But who really drinks that?"

                me; and it's a nice summer quencher.

                1. re: Maximilien

                  I also drink it. The A & P Villaine is quite nice.

                2. re: ChefJune

                  Who drinks Aligote? We do. I'm enjoying a 2007 Domaine Michel LaFarge Raisins Dores as we speak, it's a perfect summer wine.

                  1. re: ChefJune

                    Next time you are near Chablis, visit St-Bris. One great vineyard is Bailly LaPierre. It has wonderful inexpensive sparklers, St Bris and Irancy. The gigantic property is underground with parking underground and a huge tasting area as well, again underground in a cave.

                3. The OP is correct about the "vitrually"- Aligote is another grape variety used in White Burgundy

                  One limitation is the availability of the wines with the relationship that you are seeking. My first stop would be a wine shop that really knows their Burgundy. Another thought is to look at a detailed map of properties in Burgundy. Getting "neighbors" might be one way to look at these- a Grand Cru neighbor to a Premier Cru property, with a Village level on the other side- it happens. Burgundy maps can help you identify these vineyards, but then you have the problem of availability- this is where your wine shop comes in- Hopefully they will have a map there, and can point out the vineyards as you explore the collection.

                  Sorry I can't be more detailed, it would be a waste to point you to specific vineyards and have them be unavailable to you.

                  1. Each area of Burgundy has its own appellation system, and its own set of regulations.

                    Chablis has four appellations: Petit Chablis, Chablis, Chablis 1er Cru, and Chablis Grand Cru. There are seven different vineyards that comprise the Grand Cru appellation, along with an "unofficial" eighth, "La Moutonne" (unofficial, in that it's actually comprised of parts of two different Grands Crus). These are all located next to one another on a southwest-facing slope on the eastern side of the river.

                    There are 40 Premier Cru vineyards, located on both sides of the river.

                    Between the four appellations, there are differences in maximum yield (HL/ha), minimum potential degrees of alcohol, etc., etc.

                    Within the Côte d'Or, most -- but not all -- of the White Burgundies are in the southern half, the Côte de Beaune. Here there are THREE appellations: the villages-level wines, the Premier Cru wines, and the Grands Crus. Below these are the broader, regional appellations: Côte de Beaune-Villages (or Côte de Nuits-Villages), and, below that, Bourgogne.

                    Most villages in Burgundy have their most famous vineyard appended to the name of the village. So, for example, what was once the town of Gevrey appended the name of its most famous vineyard to it and is now known as Gevrey-Chambertin. The Le Montrachet (a Grand Cru vineyard) straddles the border between Puligny and Chassagne, so their names were changed to be Puligny-Montrachet and Chassagne-Montrachet, respectively.

                    Le Montrachet, as I said, is a Grand Cru vineyard. So, too, are Bâtard-Montrachet, Criots-Bâtard-Montrachet, and Chevalier-Montrachet. The villages (or communes) of Puligny-Montrachet and Chassagne-Montrachet each have several different Premiers Crus within them.

                    South of the Cote d'Or are the regions of the Côte Chalonnaise and the Mâconnais, respectively. The Chalonnaise has a tiny handful of appellations, but remains largely ignored in the U.S., except for the appellation of Rully. The Mâconnais is another story.

                    Within Mâcon, there are several different appellations. At the bottom is "straight" Mâcon; above that, Mâcon-Supérieur, and above that, Mâcon-Villages. Then, there are a handful of appellations that stand alone. The most famous is Pouilly-Fuissé (comprised of four separate communes, Fuissé, Chaintré, Solutré-Pouilly, and Vergisson), but there is also Pouilly-Loché and Pouilly-Vinzelles. There is also St.-Véran and Clessé-Viré.

                    Also, there is the appellation of Beaujolais Blanc -- these wines, too, are Chardonnay but because of Beaujolais' overwhelming association with RED wines, it is permitted for the producers of Beaujolais Blanc to label their wines as "Mâcon" should they wish. Most do; some do not. The best one I've found is that produced by Jean-Paul Brun (FWIW).


                    1. The original comment has been removed
                      1. I think the ideal tasting you might like would be four wines from the same vintage and the same producer: Bourgogne, Village, Premier Cru, Grand Cru. That will keep you the Cote d'Or or Chablis.

                        Then you can see if the "set" you've selected has a common thread running through the wines (apart from grape).

                        5 Replies
                          1. re: Chinon00


                            As always, Brad has a great idea -- it will be more affordable to do this all within Chablis, mind you, rather than in the Côte de Beaune -- but your biggest problem will be PLCB . . .

                            FWIW, if you *do* do the Côte de Beaune, Puligny- or Chassagne-Montrachet are the easiest to find (PLCB notwithstanding). To nit-pick just for a moment, however, remember that the Grands Crus of Le Montrachet and Bâtard-Montrachet straddle the dividing line between the two communes. The two Grands Crus of Bienvenues-Bâtard-Montrachet and Chevalier-Montrachet lie within the commune of Puligny-Montrachet exclusively, while the Grand Cru vineyard of Criots-Bâtard-Montrachet -- all 1.57 ha/3.88 acres of it -- lies completely within Chassagne-Montrachet.

                            1. re: zin1953

                              I'll keep that in mind. And the PLCB is not a problem when you are 20 minutes from Jersey, 30 minutes from Delaware, an hour from Maryland and an hour and fifteen from New York;]

                              1. re: Chinon00

                                I love Chablis, and aside from it being on the pricier side, I think it's an excellent region to start exploring. One approach would be to taste the same vintages from grapes grown in the same recognized cru, but as vinified by different winemakers.

                                For example, you could conduct a tasting of the same vintage of 1er cru Vaillons from winemakers V. Dauvissat, C. Moreau and W. Fevre. That way, you get the same vintage and terroir, but expressed by different winemakers. Why do you prefer one to the other? Did this one harvest earlier? Use different vinification techniques? Etc.

                          2. re: Brad Ballinger

                            I would opt for the sub-regions, and maybe concentrate on the "level" of the wines in each one, rather than the "levels" themselves. The latter can be pronounced, or hard to distinguish. A Chablis, compared to a Puligny-Montrachet, or a Chassagne-Montrachet, should be more pronounced. Same for a Meursault. The differences can be major.