Burgundy organic wine: typicality, diversity of terroirs
Organic farming in Burgundy
Burgundy, a wine region in central France, has a long history of winemaking dating back almost 2000 years. Some of the most famous vineyards and winemakers in the world are located in Burgundy.
Over the centuries, Burgundy winegrowers have perceived subtle variations in soil and climate . The modern Burgundy appellation system is inspired by these many years of experience, placing great importance on the soils and the altitude of the vines.
A major transformation that these soils of the Burgundy vineyard have undergone is that of the transition to organic viticulture . Organic Burgundy wines are on the rise, due to the large number of estates converted and in the process of converting to organic farming with very precise specifications.
This approach is part of the desire of Burgundy winegrowers to:
- produce quality grapes,
- protect their health and that of their employees,
- preserve the environment, their terroirs and the sustainability of their vineyards ,
- to be able to meet the expectations of customers requesting organic products,
- to engage in a regulated and controlled approach readable by all.
Very well known for its sub-regions presenting very diversified terroirs (called climates), the Burgundy region is also renowned for its exceptional wines, such as the 1er Crus and the Grands Crus of the Côte D'Or; or even the famous organic wines of the Domaine de la Romanée Conti, thus marking the quality of organic Burgundy wines .
A little cultural moment, the most expensive bottle in the world is a bottle of Romanée Conti, sold at auction for more than 480,000 euros. At this price, we enjoy each sip at the tasting !
Burgundy is also considered the motherland of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grape varieties. The latter are very dominant there for the production of organic red and white wines respectively, but there are also Gamay, Aligoté and many other grape varieties.
Here is our Bugey, a Chardonnay that has it in the bottle!
Burgundy organic viticulture
Since the phylloxera crisis of the 19th century, the new generation of Burgundy winegrowers had to start all over again in terms of cultivation methods (organic phenomenon).
Never had we witnessed such a rapid and complete change in cultivation and winemaking techniques . Since the 1950s, everything has changed again. In 2008, there were already around 1,231 hectares of land dedicated to organic viticulture , representing around 146 farms.
Rich in its cultural diversity, Burgundy offers an environment conducive to the birth of a wide range of wines that express each terroir . More and more winegrowers are choosing organic farming, in order to protect this richness and produce an authentic organic Burgundy wine . They free themselves from synthetic chemicals, to adopt cultivation techniques in harmony with the needs of the vine and the microbial life of the soil. They thus draw more from the surrounding ecosystem.
Furthermore, they take special care of the grape during each phase of its development , so that it is the most faithful reflection of its environment and of the vintage.
Once in the cellar, their equipment and methods respect the quality of the harvest and the must as much as possible. They monitor the wine permanently, in order to avoid the use of corrective products.
Others take their commitment to nature further, opting for biodynamic viticulture . This seeks a perfect harmony between the environment and the plant. It uses low doses of sulfur and copper, and relies on cosmic influence and biodynamic preparations to drive the vines.
The winegrowers involved in these approaches adhere to brands such as Bio-Bourgogne, in addition to other organic and biodynamic agriculture labels (Nature et Progrès, Ecocert, Biodyvin, Demeter, etc.). They produce not only organic Burgundy wine and biodynamic wine, but also natural wines. The latter require a maximum limitation of the intervention of man in its production.
The Burgundy vineyard is both historic and in perpetual motion. In search of gustatory excellence, this wine-growing region evolves with the seasons to produce the wines most faithful to the typicality of the Burgundian terroir.
The 20th century represents the madness of grandeur and the access to conventional techniques to produce wine more efficiently. With hindsight, many Burgundy winegrowers no longer identify with this wine and wish to return to a healthier and more responsible culture and vinification, truly transmitting the taste for grapes and work. For a good Burgundy wine to express itself fully, it takes love, know-how and natural solutions present on the land.
The main grape varieties grown
Almost all of the grape varieties grown in Burgundy are part of the Noiriens family (family of grape varieties resulting from the cross between Gouais Blanc and Pinot Noir).
Red wine grape varieties
- Pinot Noir
The main grape variety grown to produce red wine is Pinot Noir. This one finds its origins in this region and can thank Philippe le Hardi , one of the emblematic Dukes of Burgundy , particularly in love with this beautiful grape variety, for having given it its fine reputation. It expresses itself better on calcareous hillside soils, well drained and in the presence of temperate climates. On clay and acid soils, it gives more common wines.
It is a sometimes problematic variety, but it develops and adapts well to the particularities of the region. It is vulnerable to attacks by downy mildew, gray rot, leafhoppers and parasitic red mullet . It has a good capacity for accumulating sugars, and generally has an average acid content, which is often insufficient when it reaches maturity.
It gives wines with a light color, but which age well, with an average content of tannins.
- Gamay Noir
Gamay Noir is the second red wine variety used in the region . It is used more for the production of Beaujolais reds. It is not very vigorous, weak, but fertile and often tends to run out.
It expresses itself better on deep, clayey, sometimes carbonated soils, especially in Piedmont. It is sensitive to millerandage when it flowers in poor weather conditions, and its early bud burst makes it vulnerable to spring frosts.
Its wine has a red color with violet nuances, low tannins and high acidity. It only lends itself well to aging with Beaujolais crus, and can be blended with Pinot Noir to give Bourgogne Passe-tout-Grains.
- Pinot Gris
The third most represented red grape variety is Pinot Gris, which produces fine wines with a golden yellow color and pleasant flavors .
It is only grown in small quantities, but is used to produce wines like Bourgogne Côte-Saint-Jacques. Caesar is another red grape used. It is blended with other varieties to give Irancy , but its presence in the region is very minimal.
White wine grape varieties
The production of white wine is mainly ensured by Chardonnay. He is also of Burgundian origin, and produces prestigious wines there.
It ripens less quickly than Pinot Noir , appreciates late season humidity and is more resistant to gray rot. It also appreciates moderately fertile soils with limestone dominance, in a hillside position, on soils rich in marl or clay.
Its dry white wines are powerful, ample, balanced with volume and a lot of fat. It is well represented in Chablis, in the Côte de Beaune and in the Mâconnais, where it gives great authentic white wines.
Vigorous and very productive grape variety, Aligoté is another noirien used in the production of white wines in the region . It is sensitive to spring frosts and gray rot, but records good yields on plateaus and high slopes.
Its white wines are light, fresh, low in acid, low in flavor and low in tannins. Bourgogne Aligoté is one of its best appellations.
- Muscadet or Melon
Although it is more widespread in the Nantes region (where it is known as Muscadet, the name of the wine it produces in the Loire), the Melon is still used in the region, especially in Vézelay as an accessory grape variety in the Mâcon-Blanc and Crémant de Bourgogne .
Sauvignon is also present in the region, where it is used as a monovarietal in the AOC Saint-bris. Pinot Blanc is produced in very small quantities, and is found in particular in Marsannay . Finally, the Sacy makes it possible to produce the Coteaux bourguignons and Crémant in the Yonne.
The main sub-regions, regional appellations and communal appellations
The Côte d'Or, Yonne, Saône-et-Loire and even the Rhône are the main vineyards of Burgundy.
The appellations shared by all these vineyards are mainly: Bourgogne Aligoté, Bourgogne Côtes d'Auxerre, Clairet, Grand Ordinaire or Ordinaire, Mousseux, Passe-Tout-Grains and Crémant. However, the main sub-regions are Chablis, Côte de Nuits, Côte de Beaune, Côte Chalonnaise and Mâconnais.
It is the northernmost point of the region. It is closer to Champagne in terms of climate, with harsh, cold winters, spring frosts and hot summers.
Its chalky soils with their chalky texture are perfect for retaining and reflecting the heat the north needs, helping the grapes to ripen and produce pure, fresh wines.
There are several appellations, classified according to a particular system of this sub-region . A distinction will thus be made between Petit Chablis, Chablis, 1er cru Chablis and Chablis Grand Crus. There is technically only one Grand Cru, but there are several "climats" within this Grand Cru. The climates of Burgundy represent geographical areas of cultivation, so we are not talking here about rain or good weather. Yes, with the great wines of Burgundy you have to hang on, everything is not easy to understand but once in the mouth everything becomes obvious!
So important for the history of this beautiful region, of France and even of the world, the climates of Burgundy became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in July 2015. The Burgundians are very proud of it, and they are right !
- The Coast of Nights
Famous for its Pinot Noir, it is home to over 24 Grand Cru vineyards . These vineyards form a large ensemble on the eastern slopes facing the Saône valley, from the village of Gevry Chambertin, passing through Morey Saint Denis and south towards Vougeot and Vosne Romanée.
There are therefore names such as:
- Burgundy Hautes-Côtes de Nuits,
- Chambolle-Mussigny and 1er Cru,
- Côtes de Nuits-Villages,
- Vosne Romanée and 1er Cru,
- Vougeot and 1er Cru, Marsannay,
- Gevrey Chambertin
- St. George's Nights
- The Côte de Beaune
The organic Burgundy wine from this sub-region is quite different from that of its northern neighbour. Chardonnay plays a prominent role here, with around seven Grand Cru vineyards .
Well-known names are:
- Aloxe-Corton and Aloxe-Corton 1er Cru,
- Beaune Coast,
- Saint Roman,
- Savigny-les-Beaune ,
- Pernand Vergelesses and 1er Cru,
- Volnay and Volnay 1er Cru
Every 3rd Sunday of November, the Hospices de Beaune auctions take place in Beaune . The profits from the bottles sold are then donated to the Hospices to improve the equipment and help the sick. When wine serves the common good, we say yes!
- The Côte Chalonnaise
It is located between Chagny and Saint-Vallerin. It does not have a Grand Cru vineyard , and Bouzeron is the only appellation devoted to Bourgogne Aligoté. The other appellations present here are: Bourgogne Côte Chalonnaise, Givry, Mercurey, Montagny, Rully…
- The Maconnais
Located southwest of Tournus, the Mâconnais is at the crossroads between the north and the south of France . The northernmost and largest sub-region of Burgundy, it features a collection of wooded peaks and small valleys, perfect for viticulture.
The white wines of this AOC are distinguished by their white gold or straw yellow gold colours. When you open the bottle, you will be overwhelmed by the smell of broom, white rose, acacia and honeysuckle. On the palate, the Mâconnais white wine is characterized by an unequaled freshness with very fruity notes.
The best known appellations are: Mâcon, Mâcon Supérieur, Mâcon-Villages, Pinot, Chardonnay Mâcon , Pouilly-Fuissé, Saint Véran, Viré-Clessé…
Cremant du Jura