Plans for a new Cote d'Or appellation that would have stricter production rules than the basic Burgundy AOC is threatening to cause a rift between winemakers and negociants.

France’s national appellation body, INAO, is reviewing an application for the Cote d’Or appellation, according to the federation of Burgundy negociants.

A ‘premium regional appellation’ would allow negociants to create a new, mid-range price tier for Burgundy, said Pierre Gernelle, director of the Federation des Syndicats de Négociants-Eleveurs de Bourgogne (FNEB), which includes well-known houses like Bouchard Pere & Fils and Chanson as members.

As previously reported on, Burgundy negociants are concerned that rising prices for the region’s top wines will make them too expensive for many consumers.

‘This is an appellation that could be interesting for consumers,’ said Gernelle. ‘Pricing would depend on the producer, but the idea is to have a price between a basic regional appellation and a village level wine.’

But, some Cote d’Or producers fear that the new appellation would confuse consumers more than help them.
‘I worry about this being a blend of climates,’ said Philippe Brun, of Domaine Bruno Clair in Marsannay. ‘We do everything to defend our terroirs, so this initiative worries me.’

Thibault Liger-Belair, of the eponymous estate located in Nuits-Saint-Georges, criticised the initiative as ‘globalising’ and ‘anti-terroir’.

If approved, Gernelle said the ‘Cote d’Or’ appellation would have stricter production rules than AOC Burgundy.

For example, red or white Cote d’Or AOC wines would only be made from vineyards in the Cote de Beaune or Cote de Nuits. They would not include existing Hautes-Cotes de Beaune or Hautes-Cotes de Nuits, located west of the Cote de Beaune and Cote de Nuits respectively.

Minimum vineyard density would be 9,000 vines per hectare, instead of 5,000 for AOC Burgundy. Yields would be set at 66 hectolitres (hl) per ha for whites and 58hl for reds, versus 68hl and 60hl respectively for AOC Burgundy.

The minimum degree of alcohol would be 11 for white and 10.5 for red, instead of 10.5 and 10.2 for AOC Burgundy.
The INAO is expected to reach a decision in 2015.

Written by Panos Kakaviatos