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 grape varieties


Pinot Noir
Pinot Noir is temperamental grape variety. It is thin-skinned and therefore prone to disease, and difficult to grow. It requires skilful winemaking and careful use of oak, and when it is good, it is sublime. In the northern vineyards of the Yonne it will make lighter wines than those of the Côte d’Or, with delicate refreshing flavours of red fruits, raspberries, cherries and red currants, developing more gamey flavours with age. The acidity levels are relatively higher, with lighter tannins.

Peculiar to the Grand Auxerrois, found mainly in Irancy and there is also a little in Saint Bris. It can add tannin and structure to the lighter Pinot Noir and is occasionally produced as a single varietal wine.

The grape variety of Beaujolais, but occasionally found in the Yonne and blended with Pinot Noir for Bourgogne Passe-Tout-Grains.


The principal white grape variety of Burgundy. It is a very adaptable grape variety, responding well to Burgundy’s continental climate and in the cellar benefiting from barrel fermentation and ageing oak. Flavour depends not only on the soil but also on winemaking methods.

Saint Bris is the only appellation to feature Sauvignon, explained possibly by its relative proximity to Sancerre. The wines have a fresh mineral flavour with good acidity.

A grape variety of high acidity and firm mineral notes. Saint Bris is considered one of the best villages for Aligoté. However, as the appellation is Bourgogne Aligoté, the only possible mention of St-Bris on the label is in the wine grower’s address. Aligoté also provides the best white wine for a Kir Cassis, the traditional aperitif of Burgundy.

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