We've listed the top Burgundy producers, using the most renowned and most expensive wines of the region as a starting point...
Complex Burgundy hierarchy
The hierarchy of Burgundy, to some, is considered complex. Burgundy lovers can struggle to learn the commune or village level wine names, plus the premier cru and grand cru vineyards,
A recent piece by journalist John Elmes, who is currently learning about wine for the first time with the WSET, was in high contrast to the in-depth piece by Benjamin Lewin MW on Burgundian classification. It served as a reminder of the breadth of knowledge needed to understand the Burgundy classification system.
Burgundy producer types
The Burgundian wine trade is split in two between growers and négociants.
The Napoleonic laws of equal inheritance mean that vineyard ownership has slowly been divided again and again through the generations, meaning that these days few growers own more than a few rows in any one village.
The negociants, by contrast, buy grapes or wine from lots of different growers, allowing them to make wines in larger volumes.
To make matters more complex, some well-known growers will make wine from their own holdings as well as buying in grapes from elsewhere. Some domaines make both estate wines and negociant wines, under separate labels.
Decanter’s list of Burgundy top producers:
‘DRC’, as the Domaine is fondly referred to, is arguably the best known and the most prestigious estate in Burgundy. Domaine de la Romanée-Conti is owned by the de Villaine and Leroy/Roch families and produces only grand cru wines – although a premier cru is also released in exceptional years.
The domaine has 25 hectares of vineyards, including the 1.8 hectare monopole La Romanée Conti. This makes Domaine de la Romanée-Conti the exception to the law that no domaine can be named after a vineyard.
It bought its other monopoly, La Tâche, in 1933 and also possesses holdings in Échezeaux, Grands-Échezeaux, Richebourg, Romanée St Vivant and Le Montrachet. It produces seven red wines and one white.
Only 5,673 bottles of Romanée-Conti Grand Cru were produced in 2011, and the wines can retail from £2,000-£10,000 per bottle depending on the vintage.
The domaine consistently appears in lists of the world’s most expensive wines.
Arguably Burgundy’s greatest white wine domaine, and a beacon for top Chardonnay. Domaine Leflaive is a family estate created by Joseph Leflaive, converted to biodynamic principles by the late Anne-Claude Leflaive, who was a biodynamic pioneer in the region. The estate is now managed by Brice de la Morandiere.
Leflaive has 22 hectares of vineyards, with five hectares in grand cru vineyards including Chevalier Montrachet, Bâtard Montrachet, Bienvenues Bâtard Montrachet and Le Montrachet, plus 10 hectares of premiers crus.
The Chevalier-Montrachet Grand Cru, made from three plots over 1.99 hectares, can retail from £350 per bottle depending on the vintage.
Another legendary family-owned wine producer that has seen popularity and prices rise steadily in recent years.
Based in the Côte d’Or the domaine owns old vines in Gevrey-Chambertin, half of which are grand cru. The estate was established in the early part of the 20th century by Armand Rousseau, who was a pioneer of domaine bottling.
After Armand’s death, his son Charles assumed control, enlarging the holdings and creating its world-wide reputation. Today Charles’ son, Eric Rousseau, manages the domaine.
The domaine has vineyard holdings of 15.33 hectares, of which three hectares are village, 3.77 hectares are premier cru, and 8.51 hectares are grand cru – including Le Chambertin and Clos-de-Bèze.
The Clos de Bèze is made from 1.42 hectares and retails for around £1,000 a bottle – 80% of the production is exported.
Gevrey-Chambertin based grower, Bernard Dugat, joined the Burgundy elite in the 1990s, having spent his early years learning his craft working for his father’s estate before founding Domaine Dugat-Py.
Dugat-Py is well known as an old-vine and organic specialist, with grapes from vines under 30 years old being declassified and used in its Bourgogne Rouge.
The domaine has grown steadily, acquiring small plots annually. It now owns 10 hectares, including sites in three grands crus: Chambertin, Mazis Chambertin and Charmes Chambertin.
Its Chambertin can retail for over £1,500 per bottle. depending on the vintage. and has an annual production of 220 to 270 bottles.
Owned by former Domaine de la Romanée-Conti director, and current shareholder, Lalou Bize-Leroy. When she left the DRC board in 1992, she changed the name of an estate she had purchased in 1988 – Domaine Charles No’llat – to Domaine Leroy.
The domaine practices strict biodynamic principles and owns cellars in Vosne-Romanée. It has 23 hectares of vineyard and produces wines from the grands crus of Chambertin, Clos de la Roche, Corton Renardes, Romanée-St-Vivant, Richebourg, Clos Vougeot, Musigny, Clos de la Roche, Latricières-Chambertin and Le Chambertin.
The Latricières-Chambertin retails for over £2,000 per bottle, depending on the vintage, with less than 600 cases produced annually across the entire range of wines.
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