In general, when we talk about white Burgundy, we’re talking about Chardonnay. Two other white grape varieties are permitted under Burgundian wine law: Aligoté and Sauvignon Blanc, the latter of which is grown in the Saint-Bris appellation. Yet these “other” grapes are used only rarely. White Burgundy is usually 100% Chardonnay.
We think it’s a shame that so many American wine drinkers’ only experience with Chardonnay comes from California wines. While California does produce a wealth of fantastic Chardonnays, Burgundy – the true historic home of the grape – offers a completely different experience.
Burgundy also boasts a great breadth of white wine styles. In Chablis (at the northern tip of Burgundy), Chardonnay is made lean and crisp, and retains incredible acidity. This, coupled with the general absence of new oak in the area, makes for wines that are piercing, steely, and indeed a far cry from the vanilla-oak bombs that so many consumers have come to associate with the Chardonnay grape. Taste this Chablis and you’ll know you’re not in California anymore!
If you prefer that rich California style, and you like your Chardonnay rich and unctuous, Chassagne-Montrachet (along with several other Burgundy appellations) produces big, weighty, substantial white wines. These Chardonnays still tend to be mineral-driven, with perfectly balanced acidity. They also typically have great aging potential – and you haven’t really had Chardonnay until you’ve had a white Burgundy that’s been aged for over a decade.
Have fun exploring the different regions today, and if you have any trouble navigating the sale, ask a member of our knowledgeable, helpful sales staff to help you choose. We’re always happy to help someone start a love affair with Burgundy!
Visit our Cool Room for older bottles – or, if you can’t make it to the store today, browse through our white Burgundy selection here.