(Re)discover the lesser-known wine appellations that often hide some real gems, and without breaking the bank!
To our ears, Burgundy wines often evoke well-known wines, known all over the world and not really within reach of everyone’s budget... And yet, you can enjoy great wines at low prices by going for some of the less well-known appellations that offer exponential tasting pleasures.
Here are five well-kept secrets that will open the door to Burgundy wines for you. Excellent value for money, bottles which are easy to drink with friends, which you can uncork at the slightest opportunity like a wine to enjoy with the lads, with the girls, to drink before a match ... while bringing out the best in your food and delighting your taste buds!

Red wines are best served between 14 and 16°C. As far as white wines are concerned, go for a temperature between 12 and 13°C - that's perfect. And when I talk about excellent value for money, count on an average of 9 euros per bottle.

My secret number one: I head away from the Côte de Nuits and Côte de Beaune to discover other landscapes, other wines and the men and women who make them.

Wines that are fruity and easy to drink

Hautes-Côtes appellation

The Hautes-Côtes include the Hautes-Côtes de Nuits and Hautes-Côtes de Beaune. Slightly higher hills (between 290 and 485 metres), they form the back hills of the area! The vineyards are often located at the foot of limestone cliffs, on sunny slopes, facing the south/southeast. They drank wine from the Hautes-Côtes de Beaune at the coronation of Philippe Auguste in 1180, which just goes to show! On 4 August 1961, thanks to the efforts of a hard-working teacher and won over by the winegrowers, these vineyards saw their appellation finally recognised. In the Hautes-Côtes, the harvest is delayed by a week compared to the Côte, as the grapes take longer to mature.

It’s a regional Burgundy appellation. The red wines are garnet-coloured with bright red to purple highlights. The nose exudes aromas of cherry and Morello, sometimes candied. When tasting, the red fruits dominate and caress the palate with their freshness. In short, they’re elegant, fruity wines, perfect as an aperitif with marbled ham or a crusty pie served warm. You can also use it as an accompaniment to meats in gravy, generous dishes, grilled meats. And it's perfect to accompany a cheese from Cîteaux Abbey!
The white wine is yellow in colour with golden highlights. The nose brings out scents of acacia flowers, hawthorn, white peach and almond. There’s a harmonious balance between minerality, a slightly iodised aspect and white flowers, often honeyed. Sometimes, you notice slight lemony notes in the finish. It’s a lively, honest young wine that will liven up your dinner aperitifs. Shrimps sautéed with pineapple, fish in sauce and veal ribs provide the perfect dishes for a tasting. As for cheese, I prefer it with a fruity comté aged for 12 months at least.

Where to buy it Hautes-Côtes de Beaune ?

Directly from the winemakers for authenticity, a warm welcome and human contact. From Beaune, head for Nolay (18 km S/W from Beaune). If you're in a hurry, meet in the cellars.


Maranges appellation


Très beau vignoble dans la Vallée des Maranges, ces  coteaux ne suivent pas l’alignement de la Côte. Beautiful vineyards in the Maranges Valley, these hillsides don’t follow the alignment of the Côte. Yet their geological nature is the same. The landscapes are successions of gentle hills and slopes facing south/southeast, between 240 and 400 metres high. The landscapes give a nice impression of serenity. I particularly like this little piece of land nestled in the privacy of the Cozanne Valley. A small, clear river with a succession of little waterfalls comes out of the limestone cliffs of the Bout du Monde (End of the World).

The red wines are thick, full-bodied, with a raspberry ruby. Their bouquet is bursting with fruit, with notes of blackcurrant buds, spicy red fruit, and even candied. A little acidity means it keeps for a few years. It’s perfect with poultry, grilled ribs, braised pork and dishes with marked tastes.

The white wines are a delicate golden colour. Hawthorn, acacia and honeysuckle are the first notes, followed by a touch of honey. These fragrances make it a supple, subtle wine, full of floral nuances. They go with a fish terrine and pan-fried, delicate fish. Choose a cantal or a Bleu de Gex or Bleu de Bresse to bring out the best of both Maranges wine and cheese.

Where to buy Maranges wines ?

Directly from the winemakers for authenticity, a warm welcome and human contact. From Beaune (22km to the S/W), either head for Nolay and then Santenay and Change. Or head for Chagny, then Creusot, follow the Canal du Centre and turn towards Cheilly-lès-Maranges. Or go to the cellars themselves if you're in a hurry.

Cave des Hautes-Côtes de Beaune, Cave de Nolay, Cave du Val d’Or in Nolay, Cave de Cheilly-lès-Maranges

My secret number two: the vineyards are very fragmented in Burgundy, and a winemaker can have properties, often land inherited from his forefathers, scattered among several appellations.

A great idea for Burgundy 1er cru wines offering good value for money

What does this mean in practical terms? A winemaker from Nolay can offer a tasting of Hautes Côtes at 9 euros a bottle on average. Which is normal, since we're in the Hautes-Côtes. But he can also offer you for tasting and sale Pommard, Meursault, Beaune, Maranges 1er Cru etc at affordable prices, ie between 12 and 15 euros a bottle.

My secret number three: You want to impress your friends with a premium wine without breaking the bank? You dream of a Meursault, a Puligny ... but that’s all you can do … dream!

Until you can afford it, you can still enjoy your wine. Close to the aromas of a glass of Meursault white, a wine from the hillsides of the village next door, Monthélie will delight your taste buds. Close to the aromas of a white wine from Chassagne or Puligny, a Saint-Aubin or a Saint-Roman will do just fine at your dinners. I'm not saying here that they are the same wines, but their aromas are close, and a great second-best.

My secret number four: if you don't like a wine, don't jump to the conclusion that you don't like this appellation and that you'll never try it again...

The wine that suits you best, that really wins you over, isn’t necessarily the same one that appeals most to my palate. I recently did a tasting for two, and my husband loved a slightly woody, fruity white wine, while a lively, honest, iodised, mineral white wine with final notes of grapefruit really did it for me. We came out with 3 bottles of each, which saved making a difficult choice...
If you don't like a winemaker's wines, feel free to change winemaker, as maybe the winemaking process wasn’t mature enough for you. You should know that throughout the cycle from the vine to the harvest, the winemaker makes choices that affect the wine. Winemaking adds to this complexity. It’s unique to each winemaker. I find that their work is a mix of craft and often pure art!

My secret number five: even if you choose to buy in a cellar because you’re in a hurry, take the time to visit a winemaker one day and you’ll come back. It's a unique moment of sharing!

In Burgundy, winemakers provide a simple, honest welcome. If you ask, they’ll most certainly show you their vines. They’ll even tell you which vines produced the wine you’re tasting. The smells of the cellar, the atmosphere, the interaction … nothing beats human contact! Often, you have to pluck up the courage to ring their doorbell, but then the magic works!

In the places I’ve just mentioned, most tastings are still free, and if they’re not, the price of the tasting is often deducted from the cost of your purchases, if you buy one or more bottles. Don't hesitate to ask the winemaker if the tasting is free or otherwise.
If you still don't feel up to walking through the door, you can take an OeNolay Tour. Every Saturday at 10.30 am, from April to early November, a winemaker will take you to his vineyards and explain the seasonal work. This special 1 hour 30 event costs 6 euros per person and includes the tasting of 4 wines.

You can also take a safari to discover the vines, wines and their secrets, accompanied by a professional. Safari Tours and Bacchus Wine Tours offer excursions that introduce you to wines, vines and tasting.
So there you have it - you now know all about my little secrets of appellations that are well worth a visit. I hope you have an interesting and pleasant tasting that wakes up all your senses!