Burgundy is in some ways the most terroir-oriented region in France; immense attention is paid to the area of origin, and in which of the region's 400 types of soil a wine's grapes are grown. As opposed to Bordeaux, where classifications are producer-driven and awarded to individual chateaux, Burgundy classifications are geographically-focused. A specific vineyard or region will bear a given classification, regardless of the wine's producer. This focus is reflected on the wine's labels, where appellations are most prominent and producers' names often appear at the bottom in much smaller text.
Burgundy experiences a continental climate characterized by very cold winters and hot summers. The weather is very unpredictable, with rains, hail, and frost all possible around harvest time. Because of this climate, vintages from Burgundy can vary considerably.
Of the white grapes, Chardonnay is the most common. Another grape found in the region, Aligoté, tends to produce cheaper wines which are higher in acidity. Aligoté from Burgundy is the wine traditionally used for the Kir drink, where it is mixed with black currant liqueur. Sauvignon blanc is also grown in the Saint Bris appellation. Chablis, Mâcon wines and the Côte d'Or whites are all produced from 100% Chardonnay grapes.
Of the red grapes, all production in the Côte d'Or is focused on the Pinot noir grape, while the Gamay grape is grown in Beaujolais. In the Côte de Nuits region, 90% of the production is red grapes.
Rules for the red Burgundy appellations, from regional to Grand Cru level, generally allow up to 15% of the white grape varieties Chardonnay, Pinot blanc and Pinot gris to be blended in, but this is not widely practiced today.