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Burgundy Grand Crus: The Answer is 33 - What is the Question?

Kathy Merchant | Friday, Nov 9th 2018
Burgundy Grand Crus

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 Côte de Nuits, the Bonnes Mares Grand Cru straddles two communes — Morey-Saint-Denis and Chambolle-Musigny — and is sometimes counted as two Grand Cru vineyards.
    • It is not recognized or counted as such 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.

And finally, the approved list:

Cote de Nuits
1.       Bonnes Mares
2.      Chambertin
3.      Chambertin-Clos de Bèze
4.      Chapelle-Chambertin
5.      Charmes-Chambertin
6.      Clos de la Roche
7.      Clos de Tart (monopole)
8.      Clos de Vougeot
9.      Clos des Lambrays
10.    Clos Saint-Denis
11.     Echezeaux
12.     La Grande Rue (monopole)
13.     Grands Echezeaux
14.     Griotte-Chambertin
15.     Latricières-Chambertin
16.     Mazis-Chambertin
17.     Mazoyères-Chambertin
18.     Musigny
19.     Richebourg
20.    La Romanée (monopole)
21.     Romanée Conti (monopole)
22.    Romanée Saint-Vivant
23.    Ruchottes-Chambertin
24.    La Tache (monopole)

Cote de Beaune
1.     Bâtard-Montrachet
2.    Bienvenues-Bâtard-Montrachet
3.    Charlemagne
4.    Chevalier-Montrachet
5.    Corton
6.    Corton Charlemagne
7.    Criots-Bâtard-Montrachet
8.    Montrachet

#33 is Chablis which rounds out the Grand Crus in Burgundy.

And what a joyous experience it is to sample all 33! 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!!).

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Resources:

www.vins-bourgogne.fr, BIBV the official site representing the wines of Burgundy.

www.terroir-france.com

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

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