Want to add an elegant white Burgundy wine to your wine collection?
White Burgundy wines are revered for their intensity and finesse by wine connoisseurs worldwide. Chardonnay grapes are grown worldwide, but they’re known to find their best expression in these Bourgogne wines!
These exceptional whites also frequently get auctioned off at enviable prices making them ideal additions to your wine cellar.
In this article, explore all about these wines, where the best white Burgundy wines come from, their characteristics, prices, and the best ones to buy in 2020.
You’ll also discover the easiest way to buy, store, and sell your white Burgundy wines.
This Article Contains:
(Click on the links below to go to a specific section)
- All About White Burgundy Wine
- White Burgundy Wine Regions
- Burgundy Wine Classifications and Characteristics
- Which are the Best White Burgundy Vintages?
- The 10 Best White Burgundy Wines (Including Tasting Notes, Prices)
- Domaine Leflaive Montrachet Grand Cru
- Leroy Domaine d'Auvenay Criots-Bâtard-Montrachet Grand Cru
- Coche-Dury Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru
- Domaine Ramonet Montrachet Grand Cru, Cote de Beaune
- Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Montrachet Grand Cru
- Domaine des Comtes Lafon, Montrachet Grand Cru
- Coche-Dury Genevrières, Meursault Premier Cru
- Domaine Leroy Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru, Cote de Beaune
- Domaine François Raveneau Les Clos, Grand Cru Chablis
- Domaine Comte Georges de Vogue Musigny Blanc Grand Cru, Cote de Nuits
All About White Burgundy Wine
White Burgundy wine (Bourgogne blanc) is made in the French wine region of Burgundy.
Most white Burgundy wines are made with Chardonnay grapes.
However, a very small percentage of white Burgundy wines are made with other grape varieties like Aligoté, Pinot Gris, and Pinot Blanc.
Burgundy wine producers also make excellent red wine (Bourgogne rouge), which are made with the Pinot Noir grape variety.
How are white Burgundy wines different from other white wines?
The main difference is that white Burgundies undergo a secondary malolactic fermentation after the initial fermentation in oak barrels. This turns the malic acid in the juice to lactic acid, making white Burgundy wines smoother than the others.
But how did it all start?
A Brief History of White Burgundy Wine
Wine growing in the Burgundy region dates back to the second century AD.
In the middle ages, wine production was mostly supported by monks of the Roman Catholic Church who even built the largest vineyard in the region in 1336.
In the 14th century, the Dukes of Burgundy banned the export of non Burgundy wines to the European market. This significantly boosted the popularity of Burgundy wines.
This popularity of Burgundy wine increased further when the transportation system and roads in France were improved.
In the 17th century, bourgeoisie families bought many of the famous Burgundy vineyards.
In the 1980s, vineyard production quantities increased drastically, but at the cost of compromising the wine’s flavors.
This made a lot of wine producers revamp their winemaking processes to create more complex French wines. That resulted in the production of richer Burgundy whites with creamier textures and enhanced flavors.
White Burgundy Wine Regions
The terroir of Burgundy is what makes these whites tick! In fact, white Burgundies are all about terroir - the native Chardonnay grapes, soil, climate, and the ingenuity of the winemakers.
Let’s take a look at the Burgundy climate and geography and how they shape wine styles and flavors.
Geography and Climate
The Burgundy wine region runs from Auxerre in the north to Mâcon in the south.
The four main winemaking areas are Chablis in the north, Côte d'Or (southeast of Chablis), Côte Chalonnaise (further south), and Mâconnais (the southernmost one.)
These winemaking zones are divided into 100 appellations that have different terroir characteristics. They’re classified into four quality categories:
- Premier Cru (1er Cru)
- Grand Cru
Burgundy’s climate consists of hot summers, cold winters, and unpredictable weather. At times there can be rain, hail, and even frost around the time of harvest. The inconsistent climate is the reason why Burgundy wine vintages vary considerably.
Wines from the Chablis wine region are made with 100% Chardonnay grapes. Chablis is the northernmost area in the Burgundy region where the climate is a bit colder, similar to the one in the Champagne region.
The Chardonnays that come from Chablis are typically lean and unoaked with high acidity and medium body. The typical Chablis wine is usually fruity with notes of citrus fruit and zest minerality.
2. Côte d'Or
85 miles south-east of Chablis is the Côte d'Or (golden slope) region - home to some of the most famous and expensive Grand Cru Burgundy wines!
Côte d'Or is split into two parts:
A. Côte de Nuits
The Côte de Nuits area starts just south of Dijon and ends at the village of Corgoloin.
Côte de Nuits has 24 Grand Cru vineyards, and 80% of the wine produced here is red from Pinot Noir grapes. The rest is either white or rosé.
Many of these Grand Cru wines age for decades and are sometimes valued at thousands of dollars.
Most of the red Burgundy wines are full-bodied with ripe fruit notes of cherry, red fruits, and black currant.
B. Côte de Beaune
Côte de Beaune is named after the Beaune village. Maison Louis Latour is the largest Grand Cru winemaker in the area.
Seven out of the eight Grand Cru white Burgundy wines in the entire Burgundy region are produced here.
Some of the most famous white wine villages are Chassagne-Montrachet, Puligny-Montrachet (a producer of some of the best Montrachet wines), Meursault, Volnay, Beaune, and Corton.
The white Burgundy wines from this area are fleshier with fruity flavors of apple, yellow plum, and a fresh earthy aroma.
3. Côte Chalonnaise
A less famous neighbor of Côte d'Or, Côte Chalonnaise has a number of wineries that produce red, white, and sparkling wines.
The stunning white and rosé sparklers, Crémant de Bourgogne, are made in the village of Rully. This bubbly has a creamier texture than most traditional sparkling wines like Champagne and Asti Spumante.
Mâconnais has a much warmer climate than the other regions. The harvest in this area starts two weeks earlier than the one in Chablis.
The most famous area in Mâconnais is Pouilly-Fuissé - close to the border with the Beaujolais region that’s famous for its Gamay grape cultivation.
Most wines produced in Mâconnais are made with the Chardonnay grape varietal, and have fruity notes of pineapple and green apple with light peach aromas.
5. Other Burgundy Whites
Besides the Burgundy wines made with 100% Chardonnay grapes, there are some others produced in smaller quantities.
- Aligoté wines: They’re mainly produced in Bouzeron and have to be made with at least 85% Aligote grapes and no more than 15% Chardonnay.
- Pinot Blanc: These white Burgundy wines are mainly made in Nuits-St-Georges in the Côte d'Or region.
- Pinot Gris: It is a white grape variety that’s a mutation of Pinot Noir.
- Sauvignon Blanc: This white Burgundy wine is made in the Saint-Bris appellation.
Burgundy Wine Classifications and Characteristics
As you saw earlier, there are four main white Burgundy wine classifications.
So, what are their characteristics that make them so different from each other?
1. Grand Cru Burgundy
Grand Cru wines make up only 2% of the Burgundy wine production. They’re produced in small numbers by the best vineyards in the Burgundy region as regulated by the appellations d'origine contrôlée (AOC).
Grand Cru wines are meant for cellaring, with some of them aging beautifully for over 15 years.
The wine label of such wines indicates the class “Grand Cru,” the appellation, and the vineyard but doesn’t have the village’s name where it was produced.
2. Premier Cru Burgundy
Premier Cru wines make up about 12% of the total Burgundian wine production and are also of high quality but not as well regarded as the Grand Cru Burgundy wines.
Premier Cru wines can age for 3-5 years, while some of the best ones can age for longer.
Premier Cru wine labels usually have the name of the village and the vineyard. If the wine was made with grapes from several vineyards, the label would identify only the village name.
3. Village Wines
Village wines account for 36% of all Burgundy wines and are made from different vineyards or one unclassified vineyard situated close to one of the 72 villages in Burgundy. Village wines can age for 2-4 years.
Village wine labels indicate the village where the wine was produced and the vineyard (if the wine was produced by one vineyard only).
4. Regional Wines
The remaining Burgundy wines (about 50%) are made with grapes from a larger area or across the entire region.
The previous categories produce only red and white wines, while the regional wines classification also includes some rosés and sparkling wines and wines made of grapes other than Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
There are three regional wine appellations:
- AOC Bourgogne is a standard appellation for red and white wines, which are similar to the ones made in the village appellation. You can drink them within three years of their production date.
- Subregional appellation covers parts larger than one village. These are communes that are not included in a village appellation. Mâcon-Villages and Bourgogne Hautes-Côtes de Beaune are great examples. The subregional appellation is sometimes described as the intermediary between AOC Bourgogne and the village appellation.
- Wines of specific styles or grape varieties such as Aligoté and Crémant de Bourgogne.
Which are the Best White Burgundy Vintages?
Since the climate can be harsh and the weather unpredictable, some white Burgundy vintage years are better than others.
Here are some main distinctions between the best vintage years:
- 2011-2013: Wines from these years are of stellar quality, despite the difficult season and the harsh weather.
- 2010: A strong vintage year that produced age-worthy wines with richer flavors.
- 2009: The year of 2009 was warm and produced some of the ripest and richest wines and vintage to the taste of any new world Chardonnay wine lover.
- 2008 and older: 2008 was colder and produced crispier wines with a variety of fresh flavors.
- 1990-2003: Some white Burgundy wines from these vintage years suffered from premature oxidation. Such wines lost their flavor and aged too fast. This happened with mostly high-end wines like Grand Cru vineyard wines from the Côte d’Or region.
So, which are the best wines that you can add to your wine collection?
The 10 Best White Burgundy Wines (Including Tasting Notes. Prices)
Here’s a handpicked selection of white Burgundies that you should look out for.
1. Domaine Leflaive Montrachet Grand Cru 2013
Domaine Leflavie Grand Cru vineyard in Puligny-Montrachet is one of most important wine producers in Côte de Beaune.
This elegant oaked Grand Cru wine is dry and acidic with distinctive citrus fruit aromas accompanied by caramel and oaky notes.
Average price of Domaine Leflaive Montrachet Grand Cru 2013: $12,174
2. Leroy Domaine d'Auvenay Criots-Bâtard-Montrachet Grand Cru 2011
This exquisite wine has a mesmerizing pale yellow-gold color and a complex but yet delicate bouquet of aromas. The wine has a strong stone fruit taste of peach and nectarine is accompanied by a slight citrus aroma and an oaky aftertaste.
Average price of Leroy Domaine d'Auvenay Criots-Bâtard-Montrachet Grand Cru 2011: $9,735
3. Coche-Dury Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru 2009
This rich wine has an elegant intensity of fruity flavors and can age well when stored perfectly. This Grand Cru has a mild citrus and pineapple flavor and a hint of honey with a long-lasting finish of truffles and minerals.
Average price of Coche-Dury Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru 2009: $4,937
4. Domaine Ramonet Montrachet Grand Cru, Cote de Beaune 2016
This is a rich Chardonnay wine with complex, layered aromas with fresh, intense, and long-lasting flavors. This Grand Cru is a delicate combination of minerality, acidity, and rich syrupy texture. You’ll find a slight lemon and tangerine aroma with a taste of honey, butter, and a hint of caramel.
Average price of Domaine Ramonet Montrachet Grand Cru, Cote de Beaune 2016: $3,160
5. Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Montrachet Grand Cru 2015
This Montrachet Grand Cru has a bright gold color and soft but firm notes and a lasting finish. This white Burgundy wine has a soft orange flavor with a hint of honey, smoke and minerals and a long-lasting finish of ripe peach and apricot.
Average price of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Montrachet Grand Cru 2015: $9,057
6. Domaine des Comtes Lafon, Montrachet Grand Cru 2017
This full-bodied Grand Cru has a creamy texture with a tangy and long pure aftertaste. This elegant golden wine fermented in oak barrels has a good aging potential and can be enjoyed in the years to come. Every sip of this wine gives you a bouquet of flavors like mandarin oil, toasted nuts, and a hint of lemon.
Average price of Domaine des Comtes Lafon, Montrachet Grand Cru 2017: $2,156
7. Coche-Dury Genevrières, Meursault Premier Cru 2010
This white Burgundy wine brings a perfect harmony of flavors on the palate and has balanced acidity with a long-lasting crisp taste. The Premier Cru from 2016 has an oily yet airy texture and brings a balanced combination of ripe fruit aromas.
Average price of Coche-Dury Genevrières, Meursault Premier Cru 2010: $2,327
8. Domaine Leroy Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru, Cote de Beaune 2015
An exquisite Grand Cru that has a dark golden hue and a silky texture. This wine is full-bodied, powerful, and with a superb complexity of ripe tropical fruit flavors and a hint of minerals and smoke.
Average price of Domaine Leroy Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru, Cote de Beaune 2015: $7,687
9. Domaine François Raveneau Les Clos, Chablis Grand Cru 2017
François Raveneau wines are famous for their longevity. The colder climate where the grapes grow gives this wine crisp and acidic. This Grand Cru wine is fresh, elegant, and complex with a strong mineral taste and a crisp orange flavor.
Average price of Domaine François Raveneau Les Clos, Chablis Grand Cru 2017: $1,070
10. Domaine Comte Georges de Vogue Musigny Blanc Grand Cru, Cote de Nuits 2016
This mildly acidic Grand Cru from Cote de Nuits is full-bodied, dry, and can age very well. On the palate, citrus and pear flavors are distinctive, followed by a spicy finish of white pepper and ginger.
Average price of Domaine Comte Georges de Vogue Musigny Blanc Grand Cru, Cote de Nuits 2016: $1.360
Wondering where you can buy the best white Burgundy wines from?
Given the wide range of white Burgundies, its tough to choose one from wine stores or wine auctions and be sure that you’re buying it at the best prices. Not to mention the risk of getting a counterfeit bottle!
Add to it, the nitty gritties of shipping it safely to your cellar, and storing it safely for years. All this makes buying white Burgundies a complicated exercise!
Luckily, you can easily buy an authentic bottle of white Burgundy and other rare wines through Vinovest.
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White Burgundy wines are some of the most elegant and sophisticated wines that you can taste today. They vary in taste, depending on their vintage year and the area where they’re produced.
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