France accounts for approximately 11% of the world’s vineyards. Within France, Bordeaux is the king with just over 20% of the vines, second place is a close run thing between Cognac, the Rhône and the Loire, each having 12-13% of the total. In the next place is ‘Greater Burgundy’ with a little over 9% of the vines, but as we will see, it’s quite a collection of ‘départements’.
It’s possible to find a number of sources for areas under vine, but when looking at ‘Burgundy’ they initially appear to be at some variance – once you work out what each particular source defines as burgundy, the numbers are a little closer – they still differ, but the relative ratios are reasonably consistent. Here is my ‘approximation’ from those sources:
The Yonne is predominantly about Chablis. Despite being over 60 kilometers north-west of the Côte d’Or it is classed as ‘Burgundy’. In pre-phylloxera times there were almost 10 times the number of hectares planted, but today Chablis accounts for just over 4,000 that are split between Grand Cru, Premier Cru, Chablis and Petit Chablis. Auxerre and Tonnerre are the remaining areas of the Yonne.
Auxerre can produce both red and white wine under the following labels; Bourgogne, Côtes d’Auxerre, Irancy, Chitry, Saint-Bris-le-Vineaux and Coulanges-la-Vineuse. In the last two years we were also able to add Sauvignon de Saint-Bris. Tonnerre, from less than 350 hectares, also has a clutch of possible red and white labels – Bourgogne, Epineuil, Vézaley, Joigny and of-course Tonnerre! Tonnerre is also the last official residence of the pinot beurot (gris) and melon grapes, better-known as muscadet in the Loire.
The Côte d’Or. The 8,000 hectares I’ve listed for the Côte d’Or might sound quite high, but 40% of those hectares are for the two Hautes Côtes; i.e. the Hautes Côtes de Beaune and Nuits, and compare that to the permission the French Government (in 2005) won from Brussels to distil 150 billion litres of unsold wine and to pay vineyards to tear out vines – including up to 10,000 hectares only in Bordeaux.
The ‘real’ Côte d’Or – the true heart of burgundy is often described as ‘from Marsannay to Santenay’ – is split into the 1,700 hectares of the Côte de Nuits, and the 3,600 hectares of the Côte de Beaune. The great names of burgundy all lie here; Musigny, Montrachet, Charlemagne and Romanée-Conti.
The Saône et Loire, like the Côte d’Or, is split into two main areas; the northern end is the Côte Chalonnaise and the southern the Mâconnais. The 4,000 hectares of the Côte Chalonnaise is home to red, white and sparkling (crémant) styles under 5 appellation labels; Bouzeron, Rully, Mercurey, Givrey and Montagny.
The Mâconnais is a large (7,000 hectare), predominantly white wine area, and what red is produced is often from gamay, rather than pinot noir. The vineyards here are no-longer continuous, rather a field here and a hillside there… The potential labels are Pouilly-Fuissé, Pouilly-Vinzelles and Pouilly-Loché (all white), Saint-Véran and Viré-Clessé (also white), and finally 3 Mâcons; Superior, Villages and ‘Mâcon’ which can be red or white.
The Rhône is the oddly named last of our four regions of ‘greater burgundy’. It might be the northern limit of the Rhône valley, but to us, this is Beaujolais. The Beaujolais ‘crus’ account for ~6,400 hectares, Beaujolais Villages another 6,200 and Beaujolais/Beaujolais Superior another 10,400 hectares. This 23,000 hectares providing us with significantly the largest area of vines of Greater Burgundy.