Bordeaux vs. Burgundy
It is difficult to choose between Bordeaux wines and Burgundy wines. Two world-renowned French regions that are home to the most desirable (and most expensive) wines in the world. So, instead of pitting them against each other, we'll tell you about the differences between these two extraordinary world-class wine regions. Do you already have a favourite?
Bordeaux is the capital of New Aquitaine and is located in the southwest of France. Its location, between two of the most important and longest rivers in the country, the Dordogne and the Garonne, gives its wines a very special personality. Bordeaux has around 120,000 hectares of vineyards, almost five times more than Burgundy (25,000 ha). It is considered the largest premium winemaking region in the world.
Burgundy is a historic wine region located in the central-northeastern part of France, quite close to another legendary region, Champagne. Its capital is Dijon, home of the famous mustard.
While Bordeaux has a predominantly oceanic or Atlantic climate, which produces wines with good acidity, colour, body and structure, Burgundy is characterised by its continental climate, which helps to maintain the acidity and more subtle aromas of the grapes .
On Bordeaux’s left bank, west of the Garonne River (Médoc, Graves, Sauternes), the soils are composed of predominantly gravels, while on the right bank, east of the Garonne River (Saint Émilion and Pomerol), there are clay-limestone soils.
About 250 million years ago Burgundy was covered by a lagoon, so the subsoil is composed of calcareous deposits and marine marl. A soil rich in minerals that is a unique legacy. This mixture of limestone, clay and marine fossils, dating back to Jurassic times, is known as Kimmeridgian soil.
Bordeaux and Bordeaux coupages
In Bordeaux, more than 90% of the wines are red. They are mainly made from Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc, although Petit Verdot and Malbec can also be found.
One of the most important things that distinguish Bordeaux red wines is that they are a blend of different grape varieties. It is unusual to see bottles of single-variety wines.
One of the main and most imitated characteristics of these wines is their recognised coupage, which is known as the “Bordeaux coupage”, and is mainly composed of the Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot varieties, although some wines also include any of the area’s other red varieties.
The wines of Bordeaux have become very famous. The reds tend to be medium to full-bodied, full of mineral and earthy notes and fruit like blackcurrants (cassis) and plums. Wines with power and complexity and with an extraordinary aging potential, which reflect the difference between vintages very well.
Although they are not the most outstanding in the region, there is a small number of white wines that come mainly from the area known as Entre-deux-Mers, which lies between the two rivers, Dordogne and Garonne. The Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon and Muscadelle Blanc white varieties predominate here.
Special mention should be made of the wines of Sauternes, a region south of Bordeaux where sweet wines are made from grapes with noble rot and are a gem of world oenology.
Burgundy, the kingdom of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir
Single-variety wines made with the two star grapes, Chardonnay for the white wines and Pinot Noir for the red wines, although you can also find white wines made with the Aligoté, Pinot Gris and Sauvignon Blanc varieties and Gamay red wines.
The Côte Chalonnaise also produces sparkling wines (crémant de Bourgogne) that are a good alternative to champagne.
Burgundy red wines made from Pinot Noir usually have notes of blackcurrant (cassis) or cherry, accompanied by earthy, mushroom and spicy nuances. They are light to medium-bodied, light in tone and have excellent acidity. Smooth red wines known for their delicacy and elegance.
The White Chardonnay wines usually reveal soft aromas of white flowers, fresh apple and pear and a touch of dried herbs and hazelnuts. Barrel-aged wines can offer aromas and flavours of butter. The white wines made in Chablis don’t usually spend time in oak, so they have a long, sharp finish, with great acidity and minerality reminiscent of flint. Wines full of finesse and depth.
Between Bordeaux and Burgundy there are actually many differences that might make you lean towards one style more than the other. However, they also have some similarities, the most important of which is quality. Wines that are a dream for any wine lover and although they are some of the most expensive in the world, thanks to having been made in an exceptional area, you can quite easily find some good wines without having to take out a new mortgage to enjoy them. Discover more in our Bordeaux wines and Burgundy wines sections. Which is at the top of your favourites list? Bordeaux or Burgundy?