Burgundy Grand Crus-the question is:
How many Grand Cru vineyards are there in Burgundy?
The answer is not as straightforward as you might think. This is France, after all, where complexity rules the day. Some resources, including Remington Norman MW (author of Grand Cru: The Great Wines of Burgundy, 2011) and Sylvain Pitiot (author of The Wines of Burgundy in 2012 and formerly winemaker at Clos de Tart) declared 32 Grand Crus. The Wine Scholar Guild builds its list of 33 Burgundy Grand Crus on labelling regulations. And there is a vote of confidence for 34 in the Oxford Companion to Wine. Among these resources, there is agreement only on this: in Chablis, there is one Grand Cru (encompassing seven climats).
Our gentle dispute lies within the Côte d’Or. The confusion comes primarily from two places, both owing to the use of communal boundaries in labeling.
- In the northern region of the Côte de Nuits the Bonnes Mares Grand Cru straddles two communes (Morey-Saint-Denis and Chambolle-Musigny).
- In the Oxford Companion to Wine Jancis Robinson et al count Bonnes Mares as two Grand Cru vineyards.
- Most wine writers do not count two. Also it is not recognized or counted by the officials who govern Burgundy wine production and labeling.
- Bonnes Mares is just Bonnes Mares, but be sure to look for the commune name on the label if you happen to love the wines of a particular place.
- In the southern region of Côte de Beaune, three Grand Cru vineyards are partially overlapping: Corton, Charlemagne and Corton-Charlemagne.
- At the time that Norman and Pitiot published their works on Burgundy, Charlemagne was not used in alone in labeling.
- While the area of production for appellation Corton-Charlemagne includes the cru name Charlemagne, it was not then claimed or used alone in labeling.
- That has changed. Charlemagne is a white-only appellation within the communes of Aloxe-Corton and Pernand-Vergelesses.
Bottom line: 32 Burgundy Grand Crus are produced and available to us in bottle in the marketplace. Iconic French wine writers Remington Norman MW (Grand Cru) and Sylvain Pitiot (The Wines of Burgundy and winemaker at Clos de Tart) make this practical assessment.
And what a joyous experience it is to sample all 32!
Give the French Wine Explorers “Grand Cru Tour of Burgundy” a try – you won’t be disappointed (and won’t have to debate this question with anyone!!).
And finally, the approved list:
Cote de Nuits
1. Bonnes Mares
3. Chambertin-Clos de Bèze
6. Clos de la Roche
7. Clos de Tart (monopole)
8. Clos de Vougeot
9. Clos des Lambrays
10. Clos Saint-Denis
12. (La) Grande Rue
13. Grands Echezeaux
20. (La) Romanee
21. Romanée Conti (monopole)
22. Romanée Saint-Vivant
23. Ruchottes-Chambertin (monopole)
24. La Tache (monopole)
Cote de Beaune
6. Corton Charlemagne
Story and photos courtesy of Kathy Merchant, DWS, AIWS| Cincinnati, Ohio USA
www.vins-bourgogne.fr, BIBV the official site representing the wines of Burgundy.
Grand Cru, Remington Norman
Oxford Companion to Wine, Jancis Robinson, editor
The Wine Bible, Karen MacNeil
The Wines of Burgundy, Sylvain Pitiot and Jean-Charles Servant