France: Burgundy


The wines of the Yonne
By Rosemary George MW

This Guide was last updated on 22 December 2009
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Main appellations


Chablis is made from Chardonnay alone. There are four levels to the appellation, in descending order, Grand Cru, Premier Cru, Chablis and Petit Chablis, covering a total of 4,918 hectares. Chablis now accounts for 3,256ha and includes the vineyards of 19 other villages and hamlets. There are seven grand crus, namely Blanchots, Bougros, Les Clos, Grenouilles, Preuses, Valmur and Vaudésir, situated on one single 100 hectare hillside facing southwest, overlooking the town. Altogether there are now a possible 79 Premiers Crus, from 760ha of which the best, Fourchaume, Montée de Tonnerre and Mont de Milieu adjoin the slopes of the Grands Crus, or face them across the valley, such as Vaillons and Montmains. Some exist more on paper than in the glass, and some can be grouped under a better known umbrella name. For instance you may find l’Homme Mort, or it may equally well be part of Fourchaume. Petit Chablis is made in less favourable vineyards in outlying villages, but provides an undemanding introduction to the steely character of Chablis.

Saint Bris

Lying alongside the river Yonne in the heart of the Auxerrois vineyard district, the 136ha of vineyards are planted with Sauvignon Blanc. Granted in 2003, this is the only appellation in Burgundy allowing Sauvignon Blanc.


Irancy, a village close to the Yonne, 15 kms upstream from Auxerre, is known for its red wine, mainly from Pinot Noir, with the possible inclusion of the local César grape variety. There are some 150ha of vines around the village, and some rosé is also made.


Generic appellation for basic Burgundy red, white and rosé from Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. May also be called Bourgogne Grand-Ordinaire. The appellation Bourgogne Aligoté is specific to that grape variety. With the exception of Irancy, all the villages of the Grand Auxerrois come within the generic appellation of Bourgogne, with whites from Chardonnay and reds from Pinot Noir.

Bourgogne Passe-Tout-Grains

Appellation covering the whole Burgundy region, for reds and a very few rosés, producing early-drinking wines from a blend of Pinot Noir (minimum one-third) with Gamay.

Crémant de Bourgogne

This appellation was created in 1975 for white and rosé sparkling wines to replace the unglamorous Mousseux de Bourgogne AC (now used only for red sparkling). Quality continues to improve as more producers are cultivating grapes especially for sparkling wine. The wines must be made by the Traditional Method and aged on lees for minimum 12 months. Crémant de Bourgogne is produced in Chablis by Simmonet Febvre and on a much larger scale by the Caves de Bailly-Lapierre.

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