At Wine Folly, Morgan Harris talks about the original home of Chardonnay:
For winemakers, white Burgundy may just be the Helen of Troy of Chardonnay because nearly everyone who’s ever made Chardonnay has looked towards white Burgundy as the golden standard. All in all, white Burgundy is just Chardonnay, but the region is also the origin place of the variety, which is by the way, the world’s most planted white grape. In Burgundy, the combination of climate, land and tradition produce a wine that is coveted by many and never precisely replicated anywhere else.
Once you’re hooked on white Burgundy, there’s no going back. White Burgundy is the crack cocaine of Chardonnay. Sommeliers and retailers who sell white Burgundy sound like drug dealers: “Just try some, you’ll love it…”
Now that you’ve had a proper introduction, let’s get started exploring the region and the wine. While people have dedicated their lives to understanding the region, anyone can be learn how buy and appreciate white Burgundy.
Broadly, white Burgundy can be found in four production areas within Burgundy. Each area has a different terroirs and characteristics and thus, different flavor profiles:
- Bourgogne Blanc ($$$): unoaked simple wines with mineral and apple notes
- Chablis ($$$$): unoaked wines that are zippy and lean with lime-like mineral flavors
- Mâconnais ($$$): usually unoaked wines with melon and starfruit notes
- Côte de Beaune ($$$$$): typically oak-aged wines with rich fleshy melon and starfruit flavors and undertones of truffle and hazelnut
($) $5–10; ($$) $10–15; ($$$) $15–20; ($$$$) $20–30; ($$$$$) $30+;
NOTE: There are a few wines from outlier regions within Burgundy not included in this guide.
I’m a fan of oaked chardonnay … I don’t particularly like unoaked chardonnay, but add that hit of oak and it’s a wonderful experience. The best white Burgundy I’ve ever had was a Chassagne-Montrachet, but I rarely risk buying French wines these days due to the sometimes chancy relationship between the price at the LCBO and the actual quality of the wine.