The Côte d'Or (Gold Coast) stretches out from south of Dijon up to a few miles beyond Beaune. The name, seemingly reminiscent of coast lines and sea, actually describes the impression of the vast vineyards in autumn when the leaves turn golden. This is where Burgundy's most famous red and white wines are produced.
The red wines are made almost exclusively of Pinot Noir ; for the more or less rare and simple Bourgogne Passetoutgrain Gamay is also grown. White Burgundies are made of Chardonnay. In addition some Aligoté is grown for fresh wines to be drunk young, and some Pinot blanc.
Burgundy is one of the most complicated wine-growing areas in the world, with a multitude hardly to keep track of. The government's regulations concerning the quality of wine are not based on the grapes' content of natural sugar or attributed to a certain owner, but based on the judgement of the vineyard's very position, their climate. The first category of the different classifications is the simple Bourgogne climate where red and white Bourgogne are grown. (Bourgogne Grand Ordinaire,
Bourgogne Passetoutgrain, Bourgogne Pinot Noir, Bourgogne
Chardonnay and Bourgogne Aligoté). The next category consists of the
climates of the villages, which are included in the appellation of a certain village (e.g. Gevrey-Chambertin, Chambolle-Musigny, Volnay), Then there are the climates of those villages which are classified as Premier Cru (e.g. Chambolle-Musigny 1er Cru Les Cras) finally the 32 Grand Cru-climates of the Côte d'Or (e.g. Musigny, Richebourg, Chambertin, Montrachet) - the partitions of the several slopes that are regarded as those yielding the greatest wines. Many of those climates are in the possession of several owners; therefore it is of great importance to additionally judge the quality being produced by the individual vintner. That is why, for instance, there are many producers of the great Grand Cru climate Corton, but also some others who come up with a rather simple Cortonwine.