Burgundy vs Bordeaux
Have you ever wanted to learn more about the fascinating world of fine wines and explore the difference between two famous varieties? If so, you’re in luck – today we’ll be delving into the intricate distinction between Burgundy and Bordeaux. Burgundy vs Bordeaux: it’s a battle that has spanned centuries, with each region producing some of the world’s most revered and sought-after wines. From the historic vineyards of Burgundy to the esteemed châteaux of Bordeaux, these two regions have been drawing curious tasters and connoisseurs alike for generations.
But what makes them so different? Why do oenophiles go wild over one bottle but pass on another? What sets apart the age-old houses from their upstart counterparts? To find out, let’s take a closer look at each region and discover what sets them apart.
We’ll start by examining how these two regions produce distinct styles of red wines, beginning with their most iconic varieties. We’ll then look at why it is so difficult to choose between them, and how this rivalry has influenced the development of wine-making elsewhere in the world. Finally, we’ll examine some of the most iconic wines from each region, and explain why these wines are so special. So if you’re ready to learn more about the modern phenomenon that is Burgundy vs Bordeaux, read on!
What is Burgundy?
Burgundy is a region in east-central France that has been producing world-class wines since the Middle Ages. It is most famous for its red wines that are made from pinot noir grapes and these can range from light and fruity to rich and earthy depending on how they are made. Burgundy’s white wines are made predominantly from chardonnay grapes, although aligoté is often seen as a cheaper alternative.
The Wine Regions of Burgundy
Burgundy’s wines are divided into five distinct regions: Côte de Nuits in the North, Côte de Beaune to the South, Chablis on the Northern edge of Burgundy, and Mâconnais in Southern Burgundy. Each region produces its unique style of wine that is defined by the terroir (soil type, climate, etc.) and winemaking techniques used. The most famous wines from each region are:
- Cote de Nuits – red Burgundies made from pinot noir grapes such as Romanée-Conti and La Tache
- Cote de Beaune – white Burgundies made from chardonnay grapes such as Montrachet and Corton-Charlemagne
- Chablis – white Burgundy made exclusively from chardonnay grapes
- Mâconnais – white Burgundies made from chardonnay grapes such as Pouilly-Fuissé and Saint-Véran.
Terroid of the Burgundy Region
The climate here is generally quite mild, with warm summers, cool autumns, and cold winters. Rainfall in this area averages around 775 millimeters annually and can vary significantly from one year to another.
The majority of soils in Burgundy are clay-limestone, but there are also marl soils scattered throughout the region that have different characteristics that impart unique flavors to the wines produced from them. The regional combination of soil, climate, and terrain make Burgundy’s wines some of the most sought-after in the world.
Grape Varieties of Burgundy
The main grape varieties that are used to make Burgundy’s red wines are Pinot Noir and Gamay. Pinot Noir is the star of the show, producing medium-bodied wines with intense aromas of berries, cherries, and other fruits. Gamay is a lighter-bodied wine with slightly more acidic flavors than pinot noir.
Burgundy also produces excellent white wines from chardonnay grapes. These can range from light and crisp to full-bodied and oaky depending on how they are made. Aligoté is often blended in to produce a unique flavor profile and lower prices.
Characteristics of Wine in Burgundy
Burgundy wines are some of the most renowned in the world, but they can also be quite difficult to understand. Burgundy wines have complex flavor profiles and a wide range of characteristics that are unique to the region.
Red wines from Burgundy often display notes of earthy spices, forest fruits, wet stones, and mushrooms while white wines tend to exhibit aromas of apple blossom, honeycomb, flintstone, lemon zest, and hazelnut.
Other elements that define Burgundy wines are their acidity, body, ripeness of the fruit, level of sweetness or dryness, tannin levels, and length of finish. All these factors come together to create unique and flavorful Burgundy wines that are highly sought after by wine connoisseurs around the world.
Classifications Wine of Burgundy
Burgundy wine is classified by a system of appellation and quality that dates back to the 14th century. This system of classification is based on geography, with the finest wines coming from the most prestigious vineyards in the region. The Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée (AOC) regulations were established in 1936 and are enforced by the Institut National des Appellations d’Origine (INAO) to protect terroir-driven wines throughout France.
The Burgundy AOC divides wines into four levels based on their geographic origin: Grand Cru, Premier Cru, Village, or Regional.
- Grand Cru (or “Great Growth”) denotes some of Burgundy’s most prestigious vineyards. These wines are made from grapes grown in the most highly-rated vineyards and have very limited production.
- Premier Cru (or “First Growth”) is for wines sourced from selected premier crus that possess exceptional characteristics.
- Village wines come from high-quality vineyards located within a specific village or commune, while Regional wines encompass all wine produced in Burgundy outside of the Grand and Premier Crus.
The classification of Burgundy’s appellations is based primarily on its location and terroir, including soil composition, topography, climate, and grape variety. The most important factor determining the quality of Burgundy’s AOCs is the combination of these elements in a particular region or vineyard area.
Wine Production of Burgundy Region
Burgundy is home to some of the world’s most renowned and sought-after wines. The region produces more than 185m bottles of wine each year, which accounts for about seven percent of France’s total production.
In Burgundy, red wines account for 70 percent of overall production, while white wines make up the remaining 30 percent. The predominant grape variety used to make Burgundian red wines is Pinot Noir, with Gamay also being used in certain areas. White grapes such as Chardonnay and Aligoté are also grown here and are used to create white Burgundy wines.
What is Bordeaux?
Bordeaux is a region in southwest France, and it has been producing some of the world’s best wines since the 18th century. It is most famous for its red wines that are made from Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, and Petit Verdot grapes. These wines can range from light and fruity to deep and complex depending on how they are produced. Bordeaux’s white wines are made from sémillon, sauvignon blanc and muscadelle grapes.
The Wine Regions of Bordeaux
Bordeaux’s wines are divided into two distinct regions: Left Bank (the west side of the river) and Right Bank (the east side of the river). Each region produces its unique style of wine that is defined by the terroir and winemaking techniques used. The most famous wines from each region are:
- Left Bank – red Bordeaux made from Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot grapes such as Château Margaux and Château Lafite Rothschild.
- Right Bank – red Bordeaux made mainly from Merlot grapes such as Pomerol and Saint-Émilion.
Terroid of the Bordeaux Region
The main soil types in the area are clayey-limestone soils, sandstone soils, limestone-clay soils, and sandy gravels. Clayey-limestone soils are found mainly on the eastern and southern slopes of the Gironde Estuary. These soils provide excellent drainage for vines, allowing them to develop strong root systems. Each of these soil types is capable of producing high-quality wines that showcase the unique character of the Bordeaux region.
Furthermore, the region’s microclimates play an important role in determining how each terroir will express itself in a bottle. The maritime influence from the Atlantic ensures cooler temperatures during summer months, making it possible for winemakers to pick grapes at lower potential alcohol levels than other parts of France. The nearby Pyrenees Mountains also provide some protection against harsh weather conditions coming in from the west, helping to maintain relatively mild winter temperatures in Bordeaux. This combination of soil types and microclimates gives rise to an immense diversity in the wines produced here, making a wide range of styles possible.
Grape Varieties of Bordeaux
Bordeaux produces some of the most iconic and recognizable wines in the world. Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, and Petit Verdot are just a few of the grape varieties grown in Bordeaux. All these grapes have adapted to their respective terroir over time and create wines that are unique to this region.
Characteristics of Wine in Bordeaux
Bordeaux wines are renowned for their complexity and richness of flavor. They tend to have a deep, dark color with aromas that range from red fruits to blackberries and cassis. On the palate, Bordeaux wines may show flavors of dark berries, plum, figs, spices, leather, and earthiness. They also have high tannin levels which can make them quite dry in comparison to other wines. The aging potential for Bordeaux is often very long due to its high acidity and tannin content. All these characteristics combine to make Bordeaux one of the most sought-after wine styles in the world.
Classifications Wine of Bordeaux
The Bordeaux wine classification system is used to categorize and label wines produced in the Bordeaux region of France. This system was established by the French government in 1855 and has since become one of the most recognized and respected systems for classifying wines around the world.
The Bordeaux Classification consists of five categories, each with its own set of rules about what type of grapes can be used to make wine, as well as other characteristics that determine a wine’s quality. The five categories are The Médoc Classification of 1855, The Cru Classé of St. Émilion, The Graves Classification, Cru Bourgeois du Médoc, and Crus Artisans.
The Médoc Classification of 1855 is the most famous and elite and includes the top wines from the Haut-Médoc, Listrac-Médoc, Moulis-en-Médoc, Margaux, and St. Estèphe appellations. The Cru Classé of St. Émilion includes several high-quality wines from this appellation as well.
The Graves Classification is made up of white, red, and rosé wines from Pessac-Léognan and other nearby communes in the Graves region. Cru Bourgeois du Médoc is a classification for what are considered to be lower quality wines than those included in the Médoc classification. Lastly, Crus Artisans is a classification for small-scale artisanal wines from several different communes in the Bordeaux region.
Overall, the Bordeaux Classification system is an important tool used to properly categorize and label wines produced in this region. The five categories are all indicative of quality and distinction, so it’s necessary to understand each one to make wise decisions when selecting a bottle of Bordeaux wine.
Wine Production of Bordeaux Region
Bordeaux is France’s largest wine-producing region, accounting for approximately one-third of the country’s total production. The region produces more than 700 million bottles of wine a year and is home to some of the world’s most renowned and sought-after wines.
Bordeaux is noted for its red wines which account for 75 percent of total production here. The predominant grape variety used to make red Bordeaux wines are Cabernet Sauvignon, with other varieties such as Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, and Petit Verdot also being grown. White grapes such as Sauvignon Blanc, Sémillon, and Muscadelle are also grown in this region and are used to create white Bordeaux wines.
Burgundy vs Bordeaux
The Burgundy and Bordeaux regions are two of the most renowned wine-producing areas in France, which along with Champagne, share a common history and culture. But don’t let their shared heritage fool you; there are some very distinct differences between these two celebrated French regions when it comes to their respective wines.
Terroir: The terroir (soil) in Burgundy is mainly limestone, clay, and chalk; whereas in Bordeaux it is clayey-limestone soils, sandstone soils, limestone-clay soils, and sandy gravels. These different soil types mean that the grapes grown in each region possess unique characteristics due to their adapted root systems and response to climate change.
Grape Varieties: Pinot Noir dominates red production in Burgundy while Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot dominate in Bordeaux. Both regions also produce white wine, with Chardonnay being the primary variety in Burgundy while Sauvignon Blanc is grown predominantly in Bordeaux.
Characteristics of Wine: Red wines from Burgundy tend to be light-bodied with high acidity and delicate aromas; whereas reds from Bordeaux are typically more full-bodied with darker fruit flavors and higher tannins. In terms of whites, Chardonnays from Burgundy have a stronger mineral characteristic due to their limestone soils, whereas those from Bordeaux tend to be crisper and more acidic.
Classifications of Wine: The classification systems for both regions are quite different. In Burgundy, wines are divided into four tiers based on the quality of their vineyards, whereas in Bordeaux they are classified according to their geographic location.
Wine Production: The production methods used in each region also differ greatly. Burgundian wines are typically made from grapes grown on small plots and hand-harvested; while most Bordeaux wines come from large estates that use mechanized harvesting techniques. Additionally, traditional winemaking practices tend to be more prevalent in Burgundy than in Bordeaux.
These distinctions between the two regions make them unique and ensure that there is something for everyone when it comes to French wine. Whether you prefer a light-bodied Pinot Noir from Burgundy or a full-bodied Cabernet Sauvignon from Bordeaux, there is no doubt that both of these celebrated regions have something special to offer.
However, if you want to experience the ultimate in French wine, then it is worth seeking out wines from both regions. With the differences between the two areas highlighted above, exploring the vast array of tastes and textures each region has to offer can be an unforgettable experience.
Which is better Bordeaux or Burgundy?
While both regions are renowned for producing some of the world’s finest wines, it is ultimately down to personal preference as to which one you prefer. So why not explore them both and see for yourself?
No matter your choice, French wine is an experience that will be remembered for a lifetime. Explore the many styles, flavors, and aromas of Bordeaux or Burgundy today and discover why these two remarkable regions have earned their status as the best in the world!
Burgundy vs Bordeaux, Which Region Has a Longer History of Winemaking?
Both Burgundy and Bordeaux are two of the most famous and beloved wine regions in the world. Both have a long history of winemaking, but which region has a long history?
When it comes to Burgundy, winemaking dates back to Roman times. The Romans brought their grapes and cultivated vineyards throughout the area. Some of the oldest surviving vineyards in France can be found in Burgundy. Wine production declined during medieval times due to war and disease but was quickly revived after the Renaissance period when wealthy landowners began planting vast amounts of vines for personal consumption as well as for trading purposes. Today, Burgundy is renowned for producing some of France’s finest wines such as Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.
Bordeaux, on the other hand, has a slightly shorter history of winemaking. The first vines were planted in the region by the Romans over 2,000 years ago but it wasn’t until the 12th century that viticulture began to flourish. This was due to the English who, during this time, owned large estates in Bordeaux and had a huge demand for wine. It wasn’t until the 18th century that Bordeaux became truly famous for its wines when classified growths were established and producers began using modern techniques such as barrel aging. Nowadays, Bordeaux is most well-known for its red wines made from Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc grapes.
Even though both Burgundy and Bordeaux have a long history of winemaking, it can be argued that Burgundy has the longer one. Wine production dates back to Roman times in this region whereas in Bordeaux it was only during the 12th century that viticulture first began to flourish. That being said, both regions are renowned for producing some of France’s finest wines so no matter which you choose, rest assured you will be getting quality.
Besides Burgundy and Bordeaux, Are There Any Other Wine-producing Regions in France?
Yes, there are several other wine-producing regions in France. The Loire Valley produces some of the world’s best Chenin Blancs and Sauvignon Blancs; Alsace is known for its aromatic white wines made from varieties such as Riesling, Gewurztraminer, and Muscat; Champagne produces sparkling wines; and the Rhone Valley makes robust reds from Syrah, Grenache, Mourvedre, Marsanne, Roussanne, and Viognier grapes.
Additionally, Provence is known for its rosé wines. In the southern part of France – Languedoc – Roussillon – you’ll find a wide variety of both whites and reds made from international grape varieties. Lastly, the Southwest region of France produces some excellent fortified wines, such as Armagnac and Maderia-style Vin de Pays du Gard. These are just a few of the many wine-producing regions in France. Each offers its unique styles and flavors, making French wine a great option for any occasion!
Other Famous Wine Regions in the World (Outside France)
Spain: Spain has some of the oldest vineyards in the world, and its wine regions have been producing wines since Roman times. Major wine-producing areas include Rioja, Ribera del Duero, Penedes, Jerez, Navarra, and Priorat. Spanish wines range from full-bodied reds to crisp whites and sparkling canvas.
Italy: Italy is known for its diverse range of wines, including Pinot Grigio from the north, Chianti from Tuscany, and Amarone della Valpolicella from Veneto. Other popular Italian varieties include Prosecco, Barolo, and Brunello di Montalcino.
Australia: Australia’s modern wine industry dates back to the mid-19th century when James Busby began planting vines in New South Wales. Today, Australia is known for its bold Shiraz wines and crisp Rieslings from cooler climates.
Germany: Germany’s cool climate and numerous vineyards make it an ideal destination for white wine lovers. Varieties like Riesling, Gewürztraminer, and Müller-Thurgau are among the most popular German wines. The country’s production is heavily focused on quality over quantity, with many producers still using time-honored traditions to craft their wines.
Argentina: Argentina has become one of the world’s leading producers of Malbec in recent years. The country also produces other full-bodied reds, as well as crisp Torrontés whites.
Chile: Chile is known for its Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Chardonnay wines. But the country also produces some excellent Sauvignon Blancs, Pinot Noirs, and Carmenere reds in certain regions.
New Zealand: New Zealand has become renowned for its intensely aromatic Sauvignon Blancs from Marlborough on the north island, but it’s also a great place to find fruity Pinot Noirs and delicious Rieslings from the south island.
Portugal: Portugal is known for its Port wines, which are made with native grapes like Touriga Nacional and Tinta Cão. But the country also produces some excellent still wines, including crisp Vinho Verde whites and full-bodied reds such as Douro.
South Africa: South African wines have gained popularity in recent years thanks to their freshness, complexity, and value for money. Varietals like Chenin Blanc and Sauvignon Blanc are especially popular, but the country also produces some fantastic Cabernet Sauvignons, Merlots, and Shirazes.
Israel: Israel’s wine industry has been on the rise in recent years, with its winemakers producing high-quality Chardonnays and Bordeaux blends from traditional grapes like Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah. The country is also becoming known for its Kosher wines, which are produced by Jewish dietary laws.
Hungary: Hungary is home to some of the oldest vineyards in Europe and produces a wide range of wines from indigenous grapes like Furmint and Kékfrankos. The country’s sweet Tokaji dessert wine has been made since the 17th century and is considered one of the world’s finest wines.
Greece: Greek winemakers have been producing high-quality wines since ancient times. Varietals such as Assyrtiko, Moschofilero, and Xinomavro are gaining in popularity, while Friulano, Mavrodaphne, and Agiorgitiko remain popular choices among connoisseurs.
Japan: Japan produces a range of unique wine styles, from crisp whites made with native Koshu grapes to sweet dessert wines. The country is also home to some winemakers that specialize in sparkling wines made in the traditional Champagne method.
United States: California’s Napa Valley and Washington’s Columbia Valley are among the most famous American wine regions, producing world-class Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, and Pinot Noir wines. But other states like Oregon, New York, and Virginia are making their mark on the wine world as well.
Is Cabernet Sauvignon a Burgundy or Bordeaux?
The answer to this question is neither. Cabernet Sauvignon is a variety of red wine grapes that originated in France, but it was not originally cultivated in Burgundy or Bordeaux. It is now widely planted all over the world, including both Burgundy and Bordeaux. While some winemakers blend Cabernet Sauvignon with other grapes to make wines from these regions, it is known more for its single-varietal bottlings such as those found in California, Chile, Australia, and South Africa.
Cabernet Sauvignon tends to produce full-bodied wines with strong tannins and black currant flavors. It often makes an excellent complement to food due to its bold flavor profile and high acidity. It is also the grape used to make some of the world’s most expensive and longest-aging wines. Therefore, Cabernet Sauvignon is neither a Burgundy nor a Bordeaux, but rather its variety can be found in many different regions around the world.
Which is More Expensive Bordeaux or Burgundy?
The answer to this question depends on a variety of factors, including the region, grape variety, producer, vintage, and more. Generally speaking, Bordeaux tends to be more expensive than Burgundy due to its larger production size and higher demand. However, there are some exceptions – certain Burgundy regions can be pricier than some Bordeaux regions or producers. Ultimately it is best to research specific wines before purchasing them to determine which one is more expensive.
Is Pinot Noir a Burgundy or Bordeaux?
The answer to this question depends on which region of France the Pinot Noir is from. Pinot Noir originated in Burgundy, so if the Pinot Noir is from that region then it would be considered a Burgundy. However, if it is from Bordeaux, then it would be considered a Bordeaux. While both regions produce their versions of Pinot Noir, there are distinct differences between them.
Burgundian Pinot Noirs tend to be lighter and more delicate than those from Bordeaux which are typically fuller-bodied and more tannic. Ultimately, the true designation of whether a particular bottle of wine is a Burgundy or a Bordeaux lies with its origin. So if you’re ever in doubt, just take a look at the label and it should tell you which region your Pinot Noir is from!
Is Malbec a Burgundy Wine?
No, Malbec has not been considered a Burgundy wine. It is an Argentine red wine made from the Malbec grape. This grape has been grown in Argentina since the mid-19th century and produces deep, dark wines with intense flavors of blackberry and plum. While it shares some characteristics with Burgundy wines like Pinot Noir, its flavor profile is much different! Malbecs tend to be fruit-forward, with notes of black cherry and spices that are unique to this variety. They also typically have higher alcohol content than traditional Burgundies. If you’re looking for a unique red wine experience, try a bottle of Malbec! You won’t be disappointed.
Is Châteauneuf du Pape a Burgundy or Bordeaux?
The answer to this question is neither. Châteauneuf du Pape is a red wine produced in the Rhône Valley, located in southeastern France. It has been classified as an appellation origin contrôlée (AOC) since 1936, meaning that it meets certain quality standards and origin requirements set by French law. This region produces predominantly Grenache-based wines with subtle notes of spice from herbs like rosemary and thyme which grow naturally among the vines of the region. These wines are powerful yet elegant, pairing perfectly with dishes that feature richer flavors such as lamb or mushrooms. Enjoy a bottle of Châteauneuf du Pape and discover what makes it so special!
ConclusionAfter reviewing the Burgundy and Bordeaux wine regions, it is clear that each has its unique features and advantages. While both are excellent wine-producing areas, with a variety of styles and flavors to choose from, they each have distinct characteristics that make them an ideal choice for individual tastes and preferences. Burgundy offers more nuanced wines with delicate flavors while Bordeaux offers bolder styles characterized by tannic structure and aging potential.
At the end of the day, there is no “right” answer as to whether Burgundy or Bordeaux is better; it all comes down to personal preference. Whichever region you decide to explore first, you can be sure that your taste buds will be tantalized!
Thank you for taking the time to read this article. We hope that it has been informative and enjoyable and that it has helped you better understand the differences between Burgundy and Bordeaux wines. Cheers!
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I am Thomas Delange, CEO of McMahon’s Public House bar. I have a passion for restaurants and cooking & wines, and I love to spend my free time experimenting in the kitchen. I’ve worked hard to make McMahon’s one of the most successful bars in the city. When I’m not working, I enjoy spending time with my friends and family.