Understanding White Burgundy

Understanding White Burgundy

Understanding White Burgundy


Love it or hate it, Chardonnay is here to stay. It is one of the world’s most planted grape varieties and is made in almost every region where wine is produced.

All chardonnay is different, we know that, and most of us have been surprised or even disappointed when opening a bottle of something that we thought would taste completely different. It wasn't what we were looking for.


So, what were we looking for?

Well it depends who you are and what you are used to. For seasoned Chardonnay drinkers the benchmark is White Burgundy, or Burg to it’s closest friends.


Chardonnay is the main white grape variety of Burgundy and it’s those wines that winemakers worldwide try to emulate.

Burgundy has a unique combination of climate, land, and tradition that produces wines that are revered by many but never precisely replicated anywhere else.

You could have been drinking Burg for years and not even know it. Chablis is Chardonnay which is completely different from Macon Blanc which is of the same grape.


What is White Burgundy?

In a nutshell, white Burg falls into 4 categories which come from different regions within Burgundy. Each region has unique terroir (a mixture of climate, soil type, terrain and wine making tradition) which gives the wine it’s characteristics.


Here’s a quick low down on the 4 categories:

Bourgogne Blanc: Simple White Wine: The Entry Level Burg

Easy drinking, every day sippers. Almost always unoaked these are light with mineral, fresh apple and lemon citrus notes. The wines will usually have a slightly nutty, salty quality. 

Bourgogne blanc is the basic white appellation of Burgundy which means grapes used for a single bottle can come from anywhere in the entire region. 

They are often the most affordable and provide the entry level taste profile of white Burgundy.

Here are 3 great examples of basic affordable Bourgogne Blanc:

Adnams Bourgogne Blanc from Adnams Cellars

Thibert Bourgogne Chardonnay from Majestic Wine

Waitrose White Burgundy from Waitrose


Chablis: Crisp, Dry and Zesty

Chablis is the northernmost region in Burgundy, and the coldest resulting in wines that have he tartest, crispest acid profile of all white Burgs. 

Wines are unoaked, super crisp and dry, almost briny. They are lean with with tart green apple, zesty lime and mineral flavors and are the perfect partner to oysters and seafood.

Chablis is famous for its chalky white soils that produces world renowned dry wines. There are several Grand Cru (the highest appellation) vineyards and producers will oak their Grand Cru wines, leading to a richer style similar to Côte de Beaune.

Here are 4 examples of Chablis all of them excellent:

Cave des Vignerons, Petit Chablis from Waitrose Cellar

Samuel Billaud, Les Grands Terroirs from Waitrose Cellar

Domaine Chatelain Chablis 1er Cru Fourchaume from Majestic Wine

William Fèvre, Chablis 1er Cru Vaillons from Waitrose Cellar


Mâconnais: Fruity, Rich & Succulent

Further south, and at the opposite end of Burgundy from Chablis, is Mâconnais.

A much warmer part of the region, wines from here are the most fruit forward of all the white Burgs and have more intensity than regular Bourgogne Blanc.

Mâconnais wines are generally unoaked, light/medium bodied with apple, citrus, tropical (pineapple) and melon notes.

Some of the better (and more expensive) producers do oak their wines resulting in nutty and, sometimes, spicy notes. Some New World Chards resemble these wines which are great with heavier dishes and even roast turkey.

Here are a couple of affordable examples to try:

Cave de Lugny Mâcon Villages from Waitrose Cellar

Domaine de la Bongran Mâcon Villages from Adnams Cellar


Côte de Beaune: Ahh…Simply the Best!

The Côte de Beaune is home to some the most expensive vineyard land on Earth. It’s tiny (only 25m long) and produces some of the most revered, intense expressions of Chardonnay in the world. This is home of the famous White Burg. 

Wines here are typically oak-aged and powerful with notes of golden delicious apple, warm lemon and ripe pear. The extensive use of new oak results in hazelnut and vanilla flavours along with toasty almond and bready aromas.

There’s often an earthy undertone of truffle or mushroom which is pretty indicative of the best white Burgs.

Wines from the Côte de Beaune are something to behold (as are their prices) but they offer an experience that will remain forever. 

They are the perfect partner for food - especially rich, creamy dishes with mushrooms but are equally majestic on their own.


Here are 3 levels of Côte de Beaune white Burgs to try:

Jean-Louis Chavy Puligny-Montrachet 2016 from Majestic Wine

Joseph Drohin, Puligny Montrachet Premier Cru Les Folatières from Waitrose Cellar

Chevalier Montrachet Grand Cru Les Demoiselles from Waitrose Cellar

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