Hello there! I'm Dr. Vinifera, but you can call me Vinny. Ask me your toughest wine questions, from the fine points of etiquette to the science of winemaking. And don't worry, I'm no wine snob—you can also ask me those "dumb questions" you're too embarrased to ask your wine geek friends! I hope you find my answers educational, empowering and even amusing. And don't forget to check out my most asked questions and my full archives for all my Q&A classics.
Dear Dr. Vinny,
What’s the difference between white Bordeaux and white Burgundy?
—John, Ashburn, Va.
Both Bordeaux and Burgundy are major wine regions in France, but the wines from those regions are quite different. In France, as in most of Europe, which wine grapes are grown and how the wines are made are dictated by appellation rules. In Bordeaux, the primary grapes are Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot for reds and Sauvignon Blanc and Sémillon for whites; in Burgundy, the predominant grapes are Pinot Noir for reds and Chardonnay for whites. So, generally speaking, white Burgundies are Chardonnays, and white Bordeauxs are blends of Sauvignon Blanc and Sémillon.
Bot not all white Burgundies are Chardonnays (Aligoté is another prominent white grape there), and in Burgundy’s small St.-Bris appellation, Sauvignon Blanc is the primary grape—so it’s possible that a St.-Bris wine might actually be quite similar to a Sauvignon Blanc–based white Bordeaux. But St.-Bris is a Burgundy anomaly, and when people talk about “white Burgundies,” you can be quite certain that they are referring to Chardonnays. Check out our ABCs of Bordeaux and Burgundy videos for more details!