Cotes de Beaune Wines
If Pinot Noir is king of the Cote de Nuits, then Chardonnay is without doubt the undisputed empress of the Cote de Beaune. Stretching south of Nuits St Georges, from the northernmost village of Pernand-Vergelesses to Santenay in the south of the region, the vineyards occupy a narrow strip of land, at most 5km wide, based on a limestone soil, which is so favourable to the production of top class Chardonnays.
About Cotes De Beaune Wines
This is the land on which the stuff of dreams is made, in terms of the very pinnacle of white wine quality and complexity, culminating in the single vineyard, revered, almost mystical, Le Montrachet. Puligny-Montrachet, Chassagne-Montrachet and Meursault are other world famous white Burgundy names that are housed in this tiny region.
Maybe surprisingly, given the international status of these white wines, over 75% of the Cote de Beaune production, is actually red, and once again, all from the Pinot Noir grape. The red soils, and slopes are less intense than the Cote de Nuits, and in general the reds have a more immediate, softer charm than the Nuits wines, but without the intense power. There is only one red Grand Cru in the area, Corton.
Cotes De Beaune Sub-Regions
Hautes Cotes De Beaune & Cotes De Beaune Villages
The structure of these 2 appellations mirrors that of the Hautes Cotes de Nuits and Cote de Nuits Villages. The Haut Cotes de Beaune covers the wines produced on the higher slopes of the west of the region, and over 80% of the production is red, with a tiny amount of rose, and the remainder Chardonnay. Due to the higher altitude and the cooler climate, the grapes struggle to ripen more, and the reds are generally lighter, and less concentrated than those of the Cotes de Beaune Villages, but can offer good value. Production is about 5 million bottles per year.
Cote de Beaune wines can be made from one of the 16 accredited villages in the Cote de Beaune, and again cover red, white and rose, although red dominates. Yields and regulations are stricter than for straight Bourgogne red and white, but the ultimate quality level, will yet again come down to the producer or the negociant.
One of the most northern villages, and lying very close to the world famous Corton vineyard, this is one of the least know Burgundy appellations, producing reds, which are closer in character to the fuller reds of the Cote de Nuits, than to the more ethereal, lighter reds found further south in the Cote de Beaune. Having said this, they often lack structure and depth, and can often be quite hollow.
These vineyards lie west of Meursault and produce about two thirds red, one third white. Much of the production is sold under the Cotes de Beaune Villages appellation, but the area does have a number of premier cru vineyards, and the wines are generally consistent and reliable in quality, with the reds offering a more straightforward, fruity version of the Volnay style, and the whites not dissimilar, but less concentrated than Meursault.
This is a little known and often overlooked area, west of Auxey-Duresses, occupying a higher altitude site. Because of this, some of the Pinot struggles to ripen, and reds can be thin, or under ripe. However, Chardonnay grows well here, and there is some very good quality, creamy whites, which offer great and consistent value.
There are no Premier Cru vineyards here, therefore it is important to rely on quality producers.