Your Guide to Burgundy Wine Classification – Simplified!

burgundy wine classification

Are you a wine enthusiast looking to understand the complexities of Burgundy wine classification? If so, you’ve come to the right place! In this comprehensive guide, we will simplify the complex world of Burgundy wine classification. Join us as we explore the different regions, understand the hierarchy of Burgundy wines, and learn about the classifications and appellations that make Burgundy wines so unique.

Key Takeaways:

  • Understanding Burgundy wine classification is essential for enhancing your wine tasting experiences
  • Burgundy wines are classified by their quality, vineyard location, and production methods
  • The Burgundy wine hierarchy includes Grand Cru, Premier Cru, and Village level wines
  • Burgundy wine appellations designate the origin and quality of the wine
  • Navigating the Burgundy wine hierarchy can enhance your wine selection and tasting experiences

Understanding Burgundy Wine Regions

When it comes to Burgundy wines, the region in which the grapes are grown can greatly impact the flavor and quality of the wine. Burgundy is divided into several unique wine regions, each with its own terroir and characteristics that influence the grapes that grow there. Understanding these regions is crucial to understanding Burgundy wines.

The Main Burgundy Wine Regions

The main wine regions in Burgundy are:

ChablisThe northernmost region, known for producing dry, crisp white wines with high acidity and mineral notes
Côte de NuitsKnown for producing some of the finest and most complex red wines in Burgundy, with Pinot Noir being the primary grape variety grown
Côte de BeauneProduces both red and white wines, known for their elegance, finesse, and complexity. Chardonnay is the primary grape variety grown here.
Côte ChalonnaiseProduces both red and white wines, known for their value and approachability. Pinot Noir and Chardonnay are the primary grape varieties grown here.
MâconnaisProduces both red and white wines, with Chardonnay being the most widely grown grape variety. Known for their fruity and approachable style.

Each of these regions has its own unique microclimate and soil type, which affects the flavors and aromas of the wine produced there. For example, the cool climate and chalky soils in Chablis contribute to the wine’s high acidity and mineral notes.

Next, let’s dive deeper into the Burgundy wine hierarchy and explore the different classifications of Burgundy wines.

Exploring the Burgundy Wine Hierarchy

In Burgundy, wine is not just a beverage but an art form. To fully appreciate the excellence of Burgundy wines, it is essential to understand the Burgundy wine hierarchy. The wine hierarchy is based on vineyard location, with Grand Cru and Premier Cru being the most prestigious classifications.

Grand Cru Burgundy wines are the top level in the hierarchy and represent the best vineyards in the region. These wines come from vineyards that have consistently produced exceptional wines over time. Grand Cru wines represent only 1-2% of the total wine production in Burgundy, making them rare and highly sought-after. These wines are known for their complex aromas, flavors, and long aging potential.

Premier Cru Burgundy wines represent the next level in the hierarchy and are produced from vineyards that offer exceptional quality but are not as renowned as Grand Crus. These wines are highly regarded and represent around 10% of the total wine production in Burgundy. Premier Cru wines have distinct characteristics that reflect the specific terroir of each vineyard, and they offer a balance of elegance and complexity.

Both Grand Cru and Premier Cru Burgundy wines are aged for a longer period than village-level wines to enhance their complexity and depth of flavor. The aging process also softens the tannins and gives the wine a smooth texture.

Understanding the Burgundy wine hierarchy is essential for selecting and appreciating the exceptional wines of the region. In the next section, we will explore the village-level Burgundy wines, which offer a unique expression of the region’s terroir.

Village Level Burgundy Wines

When exploring the world of Burgundy wines, it is important not to overlook the unique character of village-level wines. These wines represent the characteristics and flavors of specific villages within the region, offering a glimpse into the terroir that makes each wine so special.

Village-level wines in Burgundy are made from grapes grown within the village’s boundaries and are subject to strict regulations that dictate everything from the grape variety to the winemaking process. This ensures that each village’s wine is unique and expresses the distinct qualities of the terroir.

Village-level wines may not have the same prestige and reputation as Grand Cru or Premier Cru wines, but they offer an exceptional value and are often a great introduction to the flavors and complexity of Burgundy wines. Some notable examples of village-level wines include Meursault, Chassagne-Montrachet, and Gevrey-Chambertin.

Classification of Burgundy Wines

The classification of Burgundy wines is a complex system that determines their quality, origin, and production methods. The classification system is based on the vineyard location, known as the Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée (AOC), and the level of classification assigned to the wine. There are four levels of classification in Burgundy wines:

  1. Grand Cru
  2. Premier Cru
  3. Village level
  4. Regional level

The classification depends on the reputation and quality of the vineyards used to produce the wine. The AOC is a legal requirement that guarantees the origin of the wine and ensures that it conforms to specific production standards.

The Grand Cru wines are the highest quality wines, produced from the best vineyards in the region. There are only 33 Grand Cru vineyards in Burgundy, and they are highly sought-after by wine enthusiasts.

The Premier Cru wines are considered the second-highest quality, produced from vineyards of exceptional quality but ranked below Grand Cru vineyards. There are approximately 600 Premier Cru vineyards in Burgundy, and they are known for their distinct terroir and complex flavors.

The Village-level wines are produced from grapes grown in a single village within the Burgundy region. These wines express the unique characteristics of the village and are renowned for their distinct flavors and aromas.

Finally, the Regional level wines are produced from grapes grown across the entire Burgundy region. These wines are considered to be of lesser quality than the other three classifications but still offer excellent value and are a great introduction to the world of Burgundy wines.

In conclusion, understanding the classification of Burgundy wines is essential for discovering and appreciating the unique characteristics of each bottle. From the highest quality Grand Cru wines to the value-oriented Regional level wines, Burgundy offers something for everyone.

Burgundy Wine Appellations

When it comes to Burgundy wines, the appellations play a crucial role in identifying and designating the origin and quality of each bottle. They represent specific geographic areas and vineyards, each with its own unique characteristics and terroir. Some appellations, such as Gevrey-Chambertin and Volnay, are known for producing bold and powerful red wines, while others like Meursault and Chablis are famous for their elegant and complex white wines.

The Burgundy wine appellations are organized hierarchically based on vineyard and geographic area, as well as on the quality and reputation of the wines produced. At the top of the hierarchy are the Grand Cru appellations, followed by the Premier Cru appellations, and then the Village appellations.

Appellation LevelClassification
Grand CruThe highest classification, representing the best vineyards with the most ideal terroir and exceptional quality wines.
Premier CruConsidered a step below Grand Cru, Premier Cru wines come from specific vineyards recognized for consistently producing high-quality wines and displaying unique terroir.
VillageWines produced from vineyards in a specific village, reflecting the terroir and style of the region and offering exceptional value.

It is worth noting that the Burgundy wine appellations can change over time, as vineyards are constantly being redefined and re-evaluated. Some vineyards may even be promoted or downgraded to a different appellation level based on their quality and other factors.

Examples of Burgundy Wine Appellations

  • Chablis Grand Cru
  • Meursault Premier Cru
  • Gevrey-Chambertin Village
  • Pommard Premier Cru

Exploring the different Burgundy wine appellations is an exciting journey for wine lovers. By understanding the significance of each classification and appellation, you can discover the unique flavors and characteristics of each wine and gain a deeper appreciation for the rich history and culture of the region.

The Burgundy Wine Classification System

The Burgundy wine classification system can be overwhelming, but understanding it can enhance your appreciation and enjoyment of Burgundy wines. In this section, we will guide you through the different levels of classification and explain what sets each apart.

Burgundy Wine Hierarchy

The Burgundy wine hierarchy is based on the quality and reputation of the vineyards. The best vineyards are classified as Grand Cru, followed by Premier Cru and Village-level wines.

Grand Cru BurgundyRepresents the best vineyard sites and winemaking practices in Burgundy. These wines are produced from the highest-quality grapes and are known for their exceptional character, complexity, and aging potential.
Premier Cru BurgundyWines from vineyards that are not classified as Grand Cru, but still produce wines of exceptional quality, character, and aging potential. These wines are often more approachable and affordable than Grand Cru.
Village-level BurgundyWines produced from vineyards within a specific village in Burgundy. These wines express the unique terroir and characteristics of their respective villages and offer excellent value for their quality.

Burgundy Wine Appellations

Burgundy wine appellations are designated geographic areas where specific types of wine are produced. Appellations help to identify the origin and quality of each wine.

There are four levels of appellations in Burgundy:

  1. Grand Cru Appfellations – The highest classification, representing the best vineyard sites in Burgundy.
  2. Premier Cru Appellations – The second-highest classification, representing exceptional vineyards and wines.
  3. Village-Level Appellations – The third level, representing wines produced from vineyards within a specific village in Burgundy.
  4. Regional Appellations – The fourth level, representing wines produced within a broader regional area of Burgundy.

Classification of Burgundy Wines

Burgundy wines are classified based on their quality, vineyard location, and production methods. In addition to the Burgundy wine hierarchy, there are other classifications that differentiate the wines further.

These classifications include:

  • Monopole – Refers to wines produced by a single owner who has exclusive rights to the vineyard.
  • Clos – Refers to wines produced from a walled vineyard or a vineyard that was historically enclosed by a wall.
  • Lieu-dit – Refers to wines produced from a specific vineyard site within a larger appellation.

Understanding these classifications can help you identify the unique qualities of each wine and make informed choices when selecting a bottle of Burgundy.

The Charm of Grand Cru Burgundy

Grand Cru Burgundy wines are the creme de la creme of the region, representing the best vineyards and exceptional winemaking practices. These wines are grown in the most prestigious vineyards, which are carefully managed and tended to produce grapes of the highest quality.

Grand Cru wines are highly coveted by wine enthusiasts, collectors, and investors alike due to their rarity, complexity, and aging potential. These wines can be expensive, but they are worth the investment for those seeking the ultimate Burgundy wine experience.

Grand Cru Burgundy wines exhibit a unique sense of terroir, reflecting the soil, climate, and historical traditions of their vineyards. These wines are typically made from the Pinot Noir grape varietal for reds and the Chardonnay grape varietal for whites and are aged in oak barrels.

One notable example of Grand Cru Burgundy is the Romanee-Conti, which is considered to be one of the world’s greatest wines. This wine is produced from a small vineyard of only 1.8 hectares in size, located in the Cote de Nuits region. Due to its rarity and quality, a bottle of Romanee-Conti can fetch prices in the tens of thousands of dollars.

Overall, Grand Cru Burgundy wines offer a unique and exceptional wine experience that is unmatched by any other wine region in the world. If you get a chance to taste one of these wines, we highly recommend it!

Premier Cru Burgundy Wines: A Step Below Grand Cru

Premier Cru Burgundy wines are the second-highest classified wines in Burgundy. They come from vineyards that are not quite as exceptional as the Grand Cru but are still of high quality and offer great value for money.

When compared to Village level wines, Premier Cru Burgundy wines are more complex, have a greater depth of flavor, and are aged for a longer time. These wines are often referred to as a “baby” version of Grand Cru, but often show their unique character and terroir.

Premier Cru WinesNotable examplesLocation
Chablis Premier CruMontée de Tonnerre, Fourchaume, and VaillonsChablis
Meursault Premier CruLes Perrières, Les Charmes, and Les GenevrièresCôte de Beaune
Nuits-Saint-Georges Premier CruLes Pruliers, Les Vaucrains, and Les ChaboeufsCôte de Nuits

It’s important to note that not all Premier Cru wines are the same. They vary in quality and price depending on the vineyard location and winemaking practices.

Overall, Premier Cru wines are excellent value for the money and are a great way to experience Burgundian wines without breaking the bank. They offer a similar taste and experience to Grand Cru wines but at a much lower price point.

Navigating the Burgundy Wine Hierarchy

Understanding the Burgundy wine hierarchy is an essential component of appreciating these unique and exceptional wines. At the top of the hierarchy are the Grand Cru wines, followed by the Premier Cru and Village-level Burgundy wines.

When selecting a bottle of Burgundy wine, it’s crucial to consider the wine’s classification carefully. Grand Cru wines typically offer the highest quality, but they can be challenging to find and quite expensive. Premier Cru and Village-level wines offer great value, with unique characteristics reflecting their specific terroir.

To navigate the Burgundy wine hierarchy, we recommend researching the specific vineyards and winemakers that produce the wines you are interested in. Understanding the classification system and the reputation of the vineyards can help you make informed decisions and enhance your tasting experiences.

At the same time, don’t be afraid to explore and try new wines in different classifications. Burgundy offers an incredible range of exceptional wines, and there are many hidden gems waiting to be discovered at every level of the hierarchy.


As we wrap up this guide to Burgundy wine classification, we hope we’ve simplified the complexity of this wine region and provided valuable insights into the world of Burgundy wines.

By understanding the regions, classifications, and appellations, you can appreciate the unique qualities that make each bottle special. Whether you’re a newcomer to the world of wine or a seasoned connoisseur, Burgundy has something to offer for everyone.

Remember, when exploring Burgundy wines, keep the hierarchy in mind, from the Grand Cru and Premier Cru to village-level wines. This system is crucial in understanding the quality and characteristics of each bottle.

At the end of the day, the best way to enjoy Burgundy wines is to taste them for yourself and form your own opinions. So, grab a bottle, gather some friends, and embark on a wine adventure to discover the unique charms and exceptional qualities of Burgundy wine. Cheers!

FAQ’s On Burgundy Wine Classification

What is Burgundy wine classification?

Burgundy wine classification is a system that categorizes wines produced in the Burgundy region of France based on factors such as quality, vineyard location, and production methods.

How many wine regions are there in Burgundy?

Burgundy is divided into several unique wine regions, each with its own characteristics and terroir.

What are Grand Cru and Premier Cru Burgundy wines?

Grand Cru and Premier Cru are two important classifications that differentiate top-quality wines in Burgundy. Grand Cru represents the highest quality wines, while Premier Cru represents the next level of excellence.

What are village level Burgundy wines?

Village-level Burgundy wines refer to wines that express the characteristics of specific villages within the region. They offer a unique sense of terroir.

How are Burgundy wines classified?

Burgundy wines are classified based on factors such as quality, vineyard location, and production methods. These classifications help wine enthusiasts identify the characteristics and quality of each bottle.

What are Burgundy wine appellations?

Appellations play a crucial role in designating the origin and quality of Burgundy wines. They indicate the specific region or village where the grapes are grown.

How does the Burgundy wine classification system work?

The Burgundy wine classification system is complex but helps wine enthusiasts identify the quality and characteristics of each bottle of wine. It takes into account factors like vineyard designation and reputation.

What makes Grand Cru Burgundy wines special?

Grand Cru Burgundy wines represent the pinnacle of excellence in the region. They are produced from the best vineyard sites and showcase exceptional winemaking practices.

What are Premier Cru Burgundy wines?

Premier Cru Burgundy wines offer exceptional quality and value, representing a step below Grand Cru. They are highly regarded and showcase the characteristics of their respective vineyards.

How can I navigate the Burgundy wine hierarchy?

Navigating the Burgundy wine hierarchy can be a rewarding experience. Understanding the classifications and appellations can help you make informed choices and enhance your wine selection and tasting experiences.

This article was reviewed and published by Ryan Yates, Culinary Expert with over 15 years of experience as a Sommelier, Executive Chef and Restaurant Manager. This article was written by Ryan from his knowledge and experience from almost 2 decades in the fine dinning restaurant and bar business.

Note: This article was crafted with the primary intent of educating and assisting our readers. We ensure that our content is backed by research and expertise. For more culinary insights, stay tuned to the Authentic Hospitality blog.

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