France: Burgundy

Mâconnais and northern Beaujolais

From Tournus to La Chapelle de Guinchay
By Michael Edwards

This Guide was last updated on 25 April 2011
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Main wine styles


Basic Mâcon is light, very quaffable and inexpensive. As you go up the appellation heirarchy, more use is made of oak producing rich, full-bodied wines. There is a gamut of flavours from straightforward fruity Mâcon to rich, oaky and mineral wines that may be similar in structure to those of the Côte Chalonnaise or, indeed, the Côte de Beaune. Generally this is an area for good value wines, though the best producers make ripe, complex wines that usually drink well after a year or two in bottle, though in great sites lasting for at least a decade. White wine is made in Beaujolais, often labelled as St-Véran and is dry, fresh and fruity.


The basic appellations of Beaujolais are fresh, light, and easy-drinking, traditionally drunk chilled. Unfortunately Beaujolais Nouveau is often poor and confected as it had to be made quickly given that the grapes were still on the vine a mere six to eight weeks before sale. However, Beaujolais Villages and the Beaujolais Crus wines in particular can be full of joyous red fruit characters, fuller bodied and with the possibility of improving with age. Indeed some of the older wines are said to take on the characteristics of Pinot Noir! Very little Mâcon red is made.


There is very little rosé and it is made by the saignée method – drawing off some of the juice of fermenting red wine which, in turn, helps concentrate the red’s colour. The rosés are normally dry and light.

Sparkling Wines

The white Crémants de Bourgogne vary from dry and light to occasionally full and rich in flavour. They are made predominantly from Chardonnay base wines, but Pinot Noir may be used too. Pinot Noir is used for rosé sparkling wines. They can offer value for money and are worth seeking out.

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