What’s the difference between white Bordeaux and white Burgundy?

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Dear Dr. Vinny,

What’s the difference between white Bordeaux and white Burgundy?

—John, Ashburn, Va.

Dear John,

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!

—Dr. Vinny

Ask Dr. Vinny White Wines Chardonnay Sauvignon Blanc Sémillon Burgundy France

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