Generalizations About Côte d’Or Villages

Burgundy has been the object of my study most recently, since I won an awesome scholarship for the Burgundy Master-Level Program offered by the French Wine Society.  Consequently, I’ll probably have some Burgundy-heavy posts in the coming months.  Thanks to the Guild of Sommeliers and the BIVB for this fantastic opportunity!  Here is a quick list of the villages of the Côte d’Or and some generalizations about the wines made there.  I know that generalizations can be dangerous, but I feel that they are helpful nonetheless.  They are oriented from north to south:

Marsannay: known primarily for rosé production, which makes sense since it is the most northerly and one of the cooler appellations

Fixin: structured reds with a distinct animal/wild note

Gevrey-Chambertin: red-only AOP, very large area of production; contains more Grand Cru vineyards than any other village in Burgundy; deeply-colored and robust wines; a favorite of Napoléon

Morey-Saint-Denis: high-quality AOP, but largely under-appreciated; structured reds, with those at the Premier Cru and village levels showing more elegance and restraint; contiguous string of Grand Cru vineyards

Chambolle-Musigny: incredibly elegant and perfumed wines, noted for their lushness and suppelenss; 2 Grand Crus and lots of small, sub-divided 1er Cru vineyards

Vougeot: home to the largest Grand Cru of the Côte de Nuits , Clos de Vougeot, which makes up 80% of the land area in this appellation; because the Grand Cru is so big, quality is highly variable

Flagey-Echézeaux: allowed to be bottled as Vosne-Romanée, and pretty much every wine made does so, with the exception of the Grand Crus; Grand Crus are very concentrated

Vosne-Romanée: many of the Grand Crus are monopoles and are among the most-coveted wines of Burgundy; 8 Grand Cru vineyards; wines are noted for the hedonistic texture and sumptuousness, as well as their aromatic qualities

Nuits-St-George: end of the Côte de Nuits; large appellation > large variation in quality; full-bodied wines with strong tannins, which are long-lived even at the village level; many négociants have their offices here; home of Pinot Gouges, a white-skinned mutation of Pinot Noir

Ladoix-Serrigny: area of significant soil changes > type of limestone changes as well as appearance of Oxfordian marl; some wines are bottled as Aloxe-Corton; supple, soft reds

Pernand-Vergelesses: mostly red, though whites also produced; dry, tannic, structured reds

Aloxe-Corton: Grand Cru Corton makes up 1/3 vineyard area; vineyards’ fame dates to the days of Charlemagne (late 700s); earthy, mineral reds

Savigny-lès-Beaune: lighter-bodied, elegant wines

Chorey-lès-Beaune: no Grand Cru or 1er Cru vineyards; mostly sold as Cotes de Beaune Villages

Beaune: large proportion of vineyards are 1er Cru level; very large appellation producing mostly reds

Pommard: powerful, sturdy, structured reds; contains Chateau de Pommard, the largest monopole in Burgundy; higher clay content in soil > explains more rustic character of wines

Volnay: elegant, fragrant reds; some of the best wines of the Côte de Beaune

Meursault: home to opulent, rich white wines; very large appellation

Blagny: appellation that overlaps Meursault and Puligny; whites bottled as Meursault or Puligny-Montrachet, depending on location; reds are well-structured

Puligny-Montrachet: higher-acid, finely-structured white wines; home of 4 well-known white wine Grand Crus

Chassagne-Montrachet: historically known for red wine production, but whites now dominate; shares 3 Grand Crus with Puligny; almond notes found in whites

Monthélie: physically close to Volnay, though wines are not generally as structured; good value wine

Auxey-Duresses: red and white produced; reds are good value alternative to Volnay

St.-Romain: no 1er Cru vineyards; higher-altitude vineyards that most other villages > more difficulty ripening

Saint-Aubin: area of change and investment; white-heavy plantings which are of high-quality and becoming increasingly well-regarded

Santenay: rustic, relatively tannic reds; drainage can be a problem in rainy vintages

Maranges: recently (1989) united as one appellation from three townships: Cheilly, Dezize, and Sampigny; mostly red wine produced; deeply-colored wines that often have a animal/wild component to them

Why Should We Care? Burgundy is one of the classic wine regions of the world, an area where early wine growers really delineated the differences in soil condition and the subtleties of Mother Nature at work.  Burgundy is terroir embodied.  Burgundy is also home to one of the largest numbers of wine appellations in all of France, therefore it can be a bit intimidating to keep all of these different areas straight.  I hope that this list (less than exhaustive, I know) can be of help to wine students and wine consumers alike.  This is such a great wine region that really should be explored by every wine lover!  Do any of you have any favorite wine of the Côte d’Or?  I always love hearing about new discoveries in these vast and varied vine-covered slopes.

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