France is famous for producing some of the best wine in the world. Two of the most iconic wine growing regions in France are Champagne and Burgundy. Champagne, known for its sparkling wine, and Burgundy, recognized for its rich, full-bodied reds, are actually very close neighbors.
So close, in fact, that people sometimes ask me whether Champagne is in Burgundy. In this article, we will explore the relationship between Champagne and Burgundy, how far they are from each other, and tips on how to visit both regions.
Is Champagne in Burgundy?
No Champagne is not in Burgundy. They are considered two separate and distinct regions, even they are very close neighbors with some important overlapping features that we will explore below.
Champagne is situated roughly east of Paris, while Burgundy is located east and south of Paris. While they may not share the exact same geographical location, both regions have a lot in common, including their passion for wine.
Champagne and Burgundy are two of the most influential and popular wine regions in the world. Both regions are located in northern France and are just a few hours apart, and both are famous for their excellent and sometimes expensive wines. Both also are featured in the UNESCO world heritage list for their historically important places.
How Close are Champagne and Burgundy
To understand why people ask if Champagne is in Burgundy, it’s worth looking at how close the two regions are in a couple of different ways.
Main City of Champagne (Reims) to Main City of Burgundy (Beaune)
Reims, the city at the heart of Champagne is approximately 340 km (200 miles) from Beaune, the town at the heart of Burgundy. Reims is located in the gravitational, if not geographic, center of the Champagne region and is known for its picturesque cathedral and its stunning champagne houses.
Beaune is a charming medieval town in the heart of Burgundy, famous for its historic buildings, hospices, and wineries. This 200 miles is just a 3 hour drive, meaning that the regions aren’t very far apart in the grand scheme of the wine world.
Southernmost Champagne Vineyards to Northernmost Burgundy Vineyards
The southernmost point in the Champagne wine region is located in the Aube department. This area is known for its Pinot Noir grapes which, while the grapes are red, are often made into sparkling white champagne whine. The southernmost vineyards in the Aube wine department are near Mussy-sur-Seine.
The northernmost point in the Burgundy wine region is located in Chablis, a beautiful town located to the north of Burgundy. Chablis is famous for its mineral-rich Chardonnay wines.
These two vineyard areas are separated by just a 73km (45 mile) drive, which takes less than an hour to complete. So the edges of both regions are very close together.
Champagne vs. Burgundy: Wine Region Differences
Despite their proximity, there are major differences between the Champagne and Burgundy regions.
Champagne is known for its sparkling wines, which are produced using the time-honored “méthode champenoise.” Burgundy, on the other hand, is known for its rich, elegant reds made from Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes. Both regions boast unique terroirs, which make their wines truly special.
Chardonnay and Pinot Noir: Grapes in Common
One thing that can be confusing when learning about these wine regions of France, is that they are both best known for the same grapes!
However, the different conditions and different styles of winemaking result in these regions being best known for very different wine styles.
Good drainage and slope is extremely important in both regions, and specific sites with the best conditions are classified into different tiers called crus (such as Grand Cru, Premier Cru, and Village level).
The most common grape varieties in Champagne are:
- Pinot Noir
- Pinot Meunier
In Champagne, these grapes are mainly used to make sparkling white wines and rosé wines. The traditional method to make sparkling wine was invented in Champagne, and relies on secondary fermentation in individually bottled wine to create the bubbles associated with champagne wine. Both non vintage champagne (blends of grapes from different years) and vintage champagnes (using grapes from only one year) are common in the champagne region.
The most common grape varieties in Burgundy are:
- Pinot Noir
In Burgundy, these grapes are mainly used to make regular (still) red wines and white wines. It’s rare for Burgundy wines to share grapes from multiple years, they almost always use grapes from a single year (also called a vintage).
Getting from Champagne to Burgundy (or Burgundy to Champagne)
Getting from Champagne to Burgundy is relatively easy. There are several ways to travel between the regions, including driving, taking a train, or booking a private transfer. Driving is the most convenient option as it allows you to explore the countryside and stop in different towns along the way. Alternatively, taking a train is a comfortable and relaxing way to travel between the two regions.
Wine Tours in Champagne and Burgundy
You can find great private wine tours in either Champagne or Burgundy. Wine tours can be a great way to explore because many of the smaller producers in both regions either don’t offer tours to individuals, or require advance booking. Choosing guided Champagne tours or Burgundy tours saves you the hassle of contacting and booking with all the wineries individually.
Sub-regions of Champagne
Because the Champagne region of France is so important, it’s actually broken up into multiple important sub-regions.
The most important sub-regions of Champagne are:
- Montagne de Reims
- Côte des Blancs
- Vallée de la Marne
- Côte de Sézanne
- Côte des Bar (also known as the Aube region)
The Côte des Bar is the southernmost region of Champagne which is closest to Burgundy. Like Burgundy, it is best known for Pinot Noir. With global warming and climate change, the warmer weather in the southern part of Champagne has enabled some wineries to start producing still Pinot Noir wines that share many characteristics with red wines from parts of Burgundy.
Many famous champagnes such as Dom Perignon use a blend of grapes from multiple regions to achieve a more complex and consistent flavor profile from year to year.
There’s a lot more to cover about the Champagne subregions and the types of champagne so feel free to check out our related articles using the links above.
Sub-regions of Burgundy
Some of the most expensive wines in the world come from Burgundy because the region is so well-regarded. And for the same reason, it’s broken up into many small subregions, many of which have their own reputation in the wine world. Here are a few examples of the many Burgundy subregions.
Some important subregions of Burgundy are:
- Vallée de la Marne
- Côte de Beaune
Some of the most famous and expensive wines in the world come from the land in the Vosne-Romanée appellation. In Burgundy, it’s very common to find a bottle that comes from an individual village or small town, or even from a single vineyard. This is because the growing conditions are good enough that different vineyard sites express the wine in a very different way.
Both Champagne and Burgundy Are Worth Visiting
Visiting Champagne or Burgundy is a wine lover’s dream come true. Both regions offer an incredible experience that includes tastings, vineyard tours, and picturesque scenery. Although the Champagne appellation and Burgundy appellation are not classified as the same region, they are close enough to make it easy to visit both.
Whether you are looking to explore the world of bubbly sparkling wines or indulge in rich Burgundy reds, these regions are not to be missed. Even the food is great in both regions, but perhaps especially so in Burgundy.
Personally, I think October is the perfect time to visit both regions. The hot summer temperatures are over by then, and you can catch the leaves on the vines changing from green to yellow and red with an autumnal golden glow highlighting the rolling hills.
So, cheers! Let’s raise a glass of champagne or burgundy to the plans for your trip to the world’s top wine regions.