Burgundy Wine Classification System

Grands Crus, Premiers Crus, Communal appellations, Regional appellations in Burgundy

In Burgundy, the concept of “terroir” (land) is very important, since it’s the soil that gives its name to the wine.

Each wine region in France has its own wine classification. In Burgundy, the concept of “terroir” (cultivated land) is very important since it’s the soil that gives its name to the wine (in Alsace, it’s the grape variety, in Bordeaux, the estate). The Burgundy wine-producing land parcel is also called “Climat” (climate). This is a plot of vines, carefully delineated and named for centuries, which has its own history and benefits from specific geological and climatic conditions.

Burgundy Wine Classification: Regional appellations

They exist throughout Burgundy’s wine-producing region. On the bottle, you’ll find the word “Bourgogne” (Burgundy).

Examples of regional appellations: Bourgogne Aligoté, Bourgogne Hautes Côtes de Beaune, Crémant de Bourgogne…

Burgundy Wine Classification: Communal appellations

There are 44 communal appellations. The wine then carries the name of the village in whose area it is produced.

Examples of communal appellations: BeauneSavigny les Beaune, Auxey-Duresses, Saint-Romain…

Burgundy Wine Classification: Premier Cru appellations

Within a communal appellation area, plots, which are also called “climats”, have been established and classified as premiers crus (literally, first growths), particularly with regard to the consistency of their quality. For example, the plot “les Marconnets”, located in the Beaune appellation area, is classified as 1er cru.

Beaune is the largest appellation (by area) in the Côte d’Or and has 42 plots classified as premiers crus. The bottle must be marked “Appellation 1er cru contrôlée” with the name of the town (for example: “Appellation Beaune 1er Cru”). The name of the plot is not always specified on the label. Examples of Premiers Crus appellations:  Beaune 1er Cru “Les Marconnets”, Beaune 1er Cru “Les Cents Vignes”, Volnay 1er Cru “Les Caillerets”, Pommard 1er Cru “Les Rugiens”, Meursault 1er Cru “Les Perrières”, Savigny-lès-Beaune 1er Cru “Les Peuillets”, Santenay 1er Cru “La Comme”.

Burgundy Wine Classification: Grands Crus appellations

Grands Crus appellations are the “elite” of Burgundy wines. They are produced on the most famous plots. The same Grand Cru can be grown in several towns, as is the case of Corton Grand Cru which is produced in the communes of Aloxe Corton, Ladoix-Serrigny and Pernand Vergelesses.
The bottle must include the mandatory reference “Grand Cru”.

Only red Grands Crus can be followed by the name of the “climat” from which the wine originates (for example: Corton Grand Cru – Les Bressandes).
In Côte de Beaune, there are 8 Grands Crus: Corton, Corton Charlemagne, Charlemagne, Montrachet, Chevalier-Montrachet, Bâtard-Montrachet, Bienvenues-Bâtard-Montrachet, Criots-Bâtard-Montrachet…

Romanée-Conti is certainly the most famous of Burgundy’s Grands Crus appellations. Only a select few can get their hands on some as the average production is just 5980 bottles per year.