The spiritual home of two of the world’s finest grapes, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, Burgundy is a complex region that gets under people’s skin. For some, its mosaic of tiny vineyards and enormous roster of producers becomes a form of lifelong study, for others it is simply a great source of wonderfully intense and all too drinkable wines.

The region stretches 140 miles from Chablis in the North to Pouilly-Fuissé near Mâcon in the South. In between is the Côte d’Or, an escarpment which neatly divides into the Côte de Nuits and Côte de Beaune. The former includes villages such as Gevrey-Chambertin, Nuits-St-Georges, Vosne-Romanée and Chambolle-Musigny; the latter, Beaune, Volnay, Pommard, Meursault and Puligny-Montrachet. Travelling south, and before reaching the Mâconnais, lies the Côte Chalonnaise with less-discovered red and white burgundies made from Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Aligoté grapes.


The heart of white burgundy is the Côte de Beaune whose wines can sometimes drive their fans into a frenzy of buying, and sometimes its growers to nervous exhaustion! Put simply, the pinnacle of the world’s Chardonnay production is here and whole books have been written on single villages and their vineyards. The pressure to excel is enormous whilst the threat of cataclysmic frost, hail and disease is omnipresent. This part of the Côte d’Or is broader and lumpier than its neighbour the Côte de Nuits. At its northern end is the hill of Corton, the villages of Ladoix, Aloxe-Corton and Pernand-Vergelesses at its foot, and grand cru Corton-Charlemagne sunning itself on its southern slopes. Chorey-lès-Beaune and Savigny-lès-Beaune are just by the picturesque town of Beaune, where you enter more serious red wine territory, running into Pommard and then Volnay. Then there is a ‘useful’ valley containing Monthelie, Auxey-Duresses and Saint-Romain – ‘useful’ in that prices ease off a little – before the world’s most famous Chardonnay vineyards start. An illustrious line of top premier then grand crus follows from the village of Meursault through Puligny and Chassagne-Montrachet, Le Montrachet grand cru being the culmination. Saint-Aubin and Santenayaren’t far on – what a difference a kilometre or two can make to price! Whilst the Côte de Beaune is revered, much white burgundy action is outside it in Chablis, the Mâconnais and the Côte Chalonnaise.

Bourgogne Chardonnay
There are 14 variants on straight ‘Bourgogne’, but Bourgogne Hautes Côtes de Beaune, Bourgogne Hautes Côtes de Nuits and Bourgogne Côte Chalonnaise are the ones most likely to be seen on labels. Bourgogne Côte d’Or is the most recent and exciting addition as many of our growers, such as Etienne Sauzet in Puligny-Montrachet, have respectable vineyards on the ‘wrong side of the tracks’, being just beyond the commune limits. Look out for them on our list and En Primeur offers, as they regularly deliver much of the magic of their grander cousins.

Bourgogne Aligoté
Aligoté plays second fiddle to Chardonnay by a very long margin, not in terms of quality but in terms of quantity. It produces a white which is more appley than Chardonnay, but Aligoté can have superb creamy texture. At its most neutral it can be improved with a dose of cassis to make a traditional Kir. Our example, however, from top Côte Chalonnaise producer, Domaine Jacqueson is far too good for that, and to use their Bouzeron – an appellation exclusively for Aligoté – would be a crime!

In rolling, open countryside south of Paris, the small town of Chablis straddles the River Serein, its extensive slopes of grand cru vineyards protecting it from the north-east winds. It’s worth the short detour off the A6 autoroute in summer, but those winds bite in winter. The key to Chablis’ resounding success is soil - Kimmeridgian limestone in particular - which is instrumental in the production of crisp, minerally Chardonnays which are unmatched anywhere else in the world. It is fossil country too and the ammonite and oyster fossils that often decorate the tasting rooms, auto-suggest a classic food match: Chablis with shellfish.

The most intense and surprisingly long-lived wines come from the grand cru slopes, Les Clos being the best, but Vaudésir, Valmur and Les Preuses are not far behind. The individual premier crus of Chablis are so numerous that they are often lumped together under the umbrella names of Fourchaume, Montée de Tonnerre and Mont de Millieu - all on the arguably better northern slopes – and then Vau de Vey, Côte de Léchet, Vaillons (including Les Lys) and Montmains (including Les Forêts) on the southern spurs. These vineyards produce more interesting and flavoursome wines than straight Chablis which covers a larger and somewhat argued-over area, with much Portlandian limestone. Petit Chablis covers a patchwork of further flung slopes. In the right hands, however, both are delicious.

Such is our requirement for Chablis that we deal with two of the largest vineyard owners: Domaine JeanDurup in Maligny (Les Valery is our exclusive label) and the Brocards in Préhywith their Domaine des Manants. Both are excellent and both are in the ‘no oak’ camp. At Moreau-Naudet, Virginie Moreau continues the work of her husband Stéphane Moreau making precise, citrusy Chablis with a very controlled use of oak. Domaine Christian Moreau is a perfectly formed vestige of the large and famous Moreau domaine, with son Fabien crafting brilliant wines from top sites. Another famous surname in these parts is Fèvre, and Nathalie et Gilles Fèvre, a wife and husband team, produce super-mineral wines from a 48 Ha estate and the cleanest ever small winery in Fontenay-près-Chablis. We use the Marcel & Blanche Fèvre label. We have shipped the wines of Domaine Vincent Dauvissat (and his father René before him) for almost 40 years, and the following for his wines means they never reach the list these days. Aged in old oak barrels only, they are pure expressions of their individual terroirs.

Mâcon & Viré-Clessé
From the far south of Burgundy, the wines of the warm Mâconnais, the hinterland of the large town of Mâcon, tend to be softer, more ready to drink and less expensive than whites from elsewhere in Burgundy. This is a hilly landscape of vines, woods and mixed agriculture. Many villages can make Mâcon-Villages such as the great value Mâcon-Chardonnay from wife and husband Mallory et Benjamin Talmard. The Guillemot-Michels at Quintaine near Clessé work a small vineyard by organic methods to great effect. Dominique Lafon of Domaine des Comtes Lafon in Meursault has carefully selected plots around his base in Milly-Lamartine which are sold under the Héritiers du Comte Lafon. Mâcon Rouge is made from Gamay like nearby Beaujolais, but often lacks the easy charm of the latter.

Pouilly-Fuissé & Saint-Véran
The southernmost part of the Mâconnais is dominated by the spectacular limestone rocks of Solutré and Vergisson. The latter is where Bastien Guerrin make an almost Chablis-like Mâcon-Vergisson. Nearby are Davayé and AOC Saint-Véran where brothers-in-law, Christian Collovray and Jean-Luc Terrier, produce very flavoursome wines by stirring up the lees into their wines. Then there is the huge bowl of Pouilly-Fuissé, fully planted with Chardonnay vines, and Château-Fuissé where Antoine Vincent continues the careful vineyard and oak regime of his father. A good Pouilly-Fuissé should be full and buttery, but mineral too.

Côte de Nuits White
There is Côte de Nuits-Villages Blanc but no white Côte de Beaune-Villages Blanc; Nuits-St-Georges, Vougeot, Morey-Saint-Denis, Fixin and Marsannay can be white, but the other villages only red… logical, maybe not?! Whilst most are just curious, Marsannay is a proper player and Bernard Bouvier a good producer.

Côte Chalonnaise White
It’s only really the Canal du Centre and some marshy meadows that divide the Côte Chalonnaise from its illustrious neighbour, the Côte de Beaune. For many years those in the know have savoured the Chardonnays of Rully and Montagny which can be treated as equals to the lesser villages of the Côte d’Or, and that’s not to mention the Aligotés of Bouzeron. Paul and Marie Jacqueson – father and daughter – are often rated as the best producers in Rully, fashioning wines which are admired by peers in all parts of Burgundy. Paul has a fascination with the provenance of his oak.

Southern Côte de Beaune White
Good growers in the outlying, lesser-known villages of the Côte de Beaune can produce wines with many of the characteristics of Chassagne-Montrachet or Meursault, especially in warmer years. Many also have vineyard holdings in the greater villages, one such being Bachelet-Monnot in the red wine village of Dezize-lès-Maranges, where the Côte de Beaune escarpment peters out. Brothers Marc and Alex Bachelet are making wines of real precision. The village of Saint-Aubin is tucked behind the main côte but its vines occupy the rear slopes of the hill of Montrachet, as well as stretching down to Chassagne-Montrachet opposite Criots-Bâtard-Montrachet. We have followed the red Les Frionnes from Henri Prudhon et Fils since about 1990, but their whites have been getting better and better and Saint-Aubin is predominantly Chardonnay. The tranquil hilltop hamlet of Saint-Romain-Le-Haut is home to Alain Gras, whose Saint-Romain Blanc is listed by most of the Michelin 3-star restaurants in France.

Northern Côte de Beaune White
Moving to the northern end of the Côte de Beaune, Corton-Charlemagne occupies a curving, stony hillside and produces wines of great concentration and longevity, with its own exotic richness which is somewhat different to the grand crus of the Montrachets. At Domaine Rollin, father and son, Rémi and Simon Rollin, make long-lived Corton-Charlemagne as well as superb Pernand-Vergelesses in immaculate cellars. The fortunes of some of the large merchant houses of Beaune have waxed and waned over the years, but one who has built upon a fine reputation for reliable whites is Louis Latour whose show-case cellars are at Château Corton-Grancey in nearby Aloxe-Corton.

Meursault doesn’t have the grands crus of Puligny and Chassagne but at premier cru level it competes ably, turning out opulent, almondy wines which go well with lobster. On the road to Puligny you pass by a line of premier crus: Les Gouttes d’Or, Les Bouchères, Le Porusot, Les Genevrières, Les Charmes (the largest) with Les Perrières above. Jean-François Germain at Domaine Henri Germain has particularly cool damp cellars where he quietly goes about fashioning some of the best wines in the village. His brother Eric is winemaker at Vincent Girardin where he makes superb wines in a larger, more modern facility. Back in the heart of the village at Domaine Buisson-Charles, part-time winemaker and PE teacher, Patrick Essa tends to harvest later than his peers to make very intense wines. Last but not least are two of the great domaines which supply us: Domaine des Comtes Lafon and Domaine Coche-Dury, run by Dominique Lafon and Raphaël Coche respectively, both masters in the perfect match of Chardonnay to oak. Red Meursault exists but more often appears as Volnay, its neighbouring village.

Puligny & Chassagne-Montrachet
The wines of Puligny-Montrachet have more of a mineral backbone than those of Meursault and Chassagne-Montrachet, and simplistically one might say the aromas are more honeysuckle than the lemony notes of Chassagne. The authorities were reasonably fair in dividing Le Montrachet almost equally between Puligny and Chassagne, and Bâtard-Montrachet isn’t far off either if one includes the sub-sections of Bienvenues-Bâtard and Criots-Bâtard which belong to Puligny and Chassagne respectively. Then Puligny trumps it with 7.5 Ha of the wonderful high vineyard of Chevalier-Montrachet as well as a fine roster of premier crus led by Pucelles, Cailleret, Folatières and Combettes. The premier crus of Chassagne are numerous, but Morgeot is the best known, being a larger agglomeration of others.

In Puligny-Montrachet the terroirs of the wonderful holdings of Etienne Sauzet are each expressed brilliantly in bottle by Bênoit Riffault, son-in-law of the great Gérard Boudot. At august Domaine Leflaive, Brice de La Morandière has taken on the mantle of the late Anne-Claude Leflaive, continuing the biodynamic methods to oversee production of very pure wines in a newly built cuverie. In Chassagne-Montrachet the wines of Paul Pillot continue to impress us, with the next generation, Thierry and Chrystelle Pillot who have worked extensively in the New World.


The Côte de Nuits is one long vineyard that stretches 14 miles from the marble quarries of Comblanchien north to the outskirts of Dijon. Many of the villages are household names to conjure with. If it were a Game of Thrones, then Gevrey-Chambertin would be a sturdy king, Vosne-Romanée a clever queen, Vougeot an expansive great-aunt and Chambolle-Musigny a pretty princess. Nuits-St-Georges and Morey-Saint-Denis would be princes, the first steadier and the second colder and more scheming, with Fixin and Marsannay mere princelings. This is pre-eminent Pinot Noir territory with its grand cru wines often achieving stratospheric prices, but good value is often to be found in ‘village’ wines (e.g. Gevrey-Chambertin), Fixin, Marsannay and Côte de Nuits-Villages. The Côte de Beaune is also an important area for Pinot Noir, alongside its world class Chardonnays; Volnay, Pommard, Beaune and Corton particularly stand out. Further south in the Côte Chalonnaise, Givry and Mercurey produce good reds.

Bourgogne Pinot Noir
For many years the powers-that-be in Burgundy argued over whether to allow Bourgogne Côte d’Or to run alongside appellations such as Bourgogne Hautes Côtes de Nuits and Bourgogne Côte Chalonnaise. Finally this is happening, giving more legitimacy to the ‘little’ burgundies of famous growers whose vines sit below the route nationale. Other growers, such as Michel Gros, have important holdings in the elevated, later ripening Hautes Côtes. Aside from Passe-Tout-Grains which includes Gamay, for ‘Bourgogne Rouge’ you can read ‘Pinot Noir’.

Côte Chalonnaise Red
The Côte Chalonnaise is a somewhat bucolic area of vines and Charolais cattle, and its reds can be very good too: Mercurey sturdier, occasionally too masculine, and Givry softer and prettier. Poncey, a hamlet, just south of Givry, is home to Domaine Mouton where Laurent Mouton is upping the game from the lighter style of reds he inherited from his father Gérard.

Southern Côte de Beaune Red
Maranges, an agglomeration of three villages on the southern shoulder of the Côte de Beaune, and then the lower vineyards of Santenay and Chassagne-Montrachet, are important areas for Pinot Noir production. Once rustic, the wines are now smoother and softer due to better techniques in the winery e.g. de-stemming and softer pressing. At Rémigny, just across the Canal du Centre from Santenay, there is Domaine Borgeot which is run by whirlwind Laurent Borgeot and his quieter brother Pascal. In Auxey-Duresses, the valley uphill from Meursault and Monthélie, Domaine Michel Prunier is the best of a clutch of Pruniers and is run by Michel Prunier, the archetypal Burgundian vigneron, with his daughter Estelle. Lovely wines, both red and white! In Chassagne-Montrachet Pinot Noir is diminishing in favour of Chardonnay, but Jean-François Germain of Meursault produces a good red, the vines coming from his mother’s side (she is a Pillot from Chassagne). For notes on Saint-Aubin and Saint-Romain, see the White Burgundy section.

Beaune, Pommard & Volnay
Beaune’s warm vineyards can produce rich and spicy wines whilst Pommard is famous for structure and Volnay for its Côte de Nuits-like finesse. One of Volnay’s best premier crus, Les Santenots, actually lies within Meursault! In the town of Beaune, Nicolas Potel operates under the labels Domaine de Bellene and, for his merchant wines, Maison Roche de Bellene. Confusingly the wines marketed under his own name are not made by him... a long story! Nicolas is highly talented and has great connections when it comes to buying grapes and wine. Chanson Père et Fils is a grand old Beaune house now owned by Bollinger with an enviable holding of Beaune vineyards including Clos des Mouches and Clos des Fèves. Pommard’s structure often needs taming by people with a deep understanding of its vineyards, such as Louis Boillot.

Northern Côte de Beaune Red
Côte de Beaune-Villages is usually a blend from multiple villages, but a proportion often comes from the flattish vineyards around Chorey-lès-Beaune. Here Domaine Tollot-Beaut also have vines in Savigny-lès-Beaune, Aloxe-Corton and Beaune. Cousins Nathalie, Jean-Paul and Olivier Tollot are setting a good pace at this old estate. At 160 Ha, Corton is a massive grand cru around the hill from Corton-Charlemagne with Les Bressandes and Clos du Roi being favourite vineyards within it. Pernand-Vergelesses, on the reverse of the hill, is a good source of pretty Pinot Noirs.

Southern Côte de Nuits Red
The small town of Nuits-Saint-Georges has no grand crus but some superb premier crus which make age-worthy wines. Aux Boudots and Aux Murgers wines are more silky and Vosne-like in character.

Pruliers, Porets and Les Saint-Georges produce full bodied masculine Nuits, with Vaucrains above. The new generation at Domaine Gouges, namely Grégory and Antoine Gouges, have instituted changes for the better, making wines which are much more charming when young. The villages south of Nuits-St-Georges - Corgoloin and Comblanchien, along with Fixin in the North - go to make Côte de Nuits-Villages.

Central Côte de Nuits Red
Arguably the pinnacle of world Pinot Noir production, this small section of the Côte d’Or from Vosne-Romanée to Morey-Saint-Denis, via Flagey-Echézeaux, Vougeot and Chambolle-Musigny, is littered with grand crus. Vosne and Flagey between them have eight, half of which are monopoles including Romanée-Conti. The other grand crus are Echézeaux, Romanée-Saint-Vivant, Grands Échezeaux and Richebourg in descending order of size. Next is Clos de Vougeot which at 50 Ha occupies pretty much the whole slope, its landmark château towards the top. Many call for the re-classification of parts into premier cru. Chambolle-Musigny has Le Musigny and most of Bonnes-Mares, and Les Amoureuses as a grand cru ‘near-miss’. Then Morey-Saint-Denis has Clos de Tart and Clos des Lambrays on one side, Clos Saint-Denis and Clos de la Roche on the other. Premier crus and lieux-dits are too numerous to mention and village wines, particularly vieilles vignes, are worthy of your attention.

In Vosne-Romanée,Michel Gros has amonopole, Clos des Réas, which is a star turn in a range of silky, classic Pinot wines which have twice earned him IWC ‘Red Winemaker of the Year’. Domaine Méo-Camuzet produces extremely sought-after, satin-textured wines in a range which is now supplemented wines from bought-in grapes under the ‘Frère et Soeurs’ label. Chambolle-Musigny is famous for its elegant, raspberry-scented wines and none more so than those of Ghislaine Barthod who also shares a cellar with her husband Louis Boillot. He also owns vines in Volnay, Gevrey-Chambertin and Pommard. At the top of the village is long-time Tanners supplier Domaine G Roumier where Christophe Roumier is one of the most respected Burgundy winemakers of his generation. In Morey-Saint-Denis, Sébastien Odoul of Domaine Odoul Coquard is a master of preserving gorgeous fresh Pinot fruit in his wines.

Northern Côte de Nuits Red
This section runs from the mighty Gevrey-Chambertin through Brochon and Fixin to Marsannay. Gevrey-Chambertin has a sizeable surface of vines and nine grand crus, led by Chambertin and Clos de Bèze equally. The price of Mazis (Mazy) and Charmes is often exceeded by Clos Saint-Jacques, a grand cru in all but name, to the north of the village. There are also multiple premier crus and a good supply of village wines too. Brochon’s better vineyards fall under Gevrey-Chambertin, then you come to Fixin whose wines are bought by those in the know as ‘mini Gevreys’. Marsannay, just short of Dijon and once famous only for its rosé wines, produces Chablis-like white and reds which, while not robust, are generous in nature.

Bernard Bouvier of Domaine René Bouvier makes fine examples of Marsannay and Fixin, as well as a full range of Gevrey-Chambertin, in a spacious chai on the Dijon road. Domaine Drouhin-Laroze occupies a leafy enclave in Gevrey itself, where Philippe, Christine, Caroline and Nicolas Drouhin are custodians of a fine range of vineyards including a chunk of Clos de Bèze, the wines being made in impressive cellars dug by Prussian prisoners of war! Loïc and Bernard Dugat-Py nurture incredibly old and low-yielding wines to make very intense Gevreys, suitable for ageing. The cellars, with their high-vaulted ceilings, were part of an old abbey. Along the road is the grand old domaine of Armand Rousseau with its unrivalled constellation of grand crus. One of the first estates to bottle its own wines, it is now run by Eric Rousseau with his daughter Cyrielle.