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 wine styles


In Chablis, when the growing conditions are perfect, the wine can be one of the best dry whites in the world. Dry with a steely edge, most Chablis has undergone malolactic fermentation to soften the high acidity. Most is fermented in stainless steel tanks but some winemakers, particularly for wines from the grands crus vineyards, use small oak barrels in which to ferment and age the wine. However, oak character is not usually as pronounced as in wines from the Côte d’Or further south. The best wines from grand and premier cru vineyards can age from 5 – 10 years or more. Sauvignon, grown in the Saint Bris AC only, produces wines that are dry, light and fresh, often comparable with some of the whites from the Central Vineyards of the Loire.


Irancy is the most structured of the red wines of the Yonne, with ripe fruit and sufficient tannins for some ageing. The wines from Coulanges-la-Vineuse and Chitry-le-Fort tend to be lighter and fruitier.


There is very little rosé and it is made by the saigné method – they are normally dry and light.

Sparkling Wines

White Crémant de Bourgogne varies from dry and light to occasionally full and rich in flavour. It is made predominantly from Chardonnay, but in the Yonne may also include Aligoté and Sacy, another local grape variety. Pinot Noir is the main grape variety for rosé, and is sometimes blended with Gamay. These sparkling wines can offer value for money and are worth seeking out especially from this northerly region, which is so close to Champagne.

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