Second part of our trip, we dedicated one day to the vineyards of the Cote de Beaune. Driving from Nuits de Saint George you find a hill (which here they call “the mountain” not for the altitude for sure!), the hill of Corton, a semicircle topped with juniper and boxwood where you have 3 very important communes of the CdB (cote de Beaune).
Ladoix-Serrigny, the first one you find driving south, 170 hectares of vineyard from village to Grand Cru, they produce both white and red wines but some producers prefer to sell their wines as Aloxe-Corton Premier Cru rather than using this appellation. The wines are very different in styles but in general we can say they are a little bit more rustic compared with the other communes.
Aloxe-Corton, the biggest and most important of the three communes, here there are some of the best Grand Cru of the hill. This appellation have 250 hectares of vineyards from which 120 are Grand Cru, the most famous are Clos du Roi, Bressandes and Renardes.
At the bottom of the hill, bit hidden and west facing is Pernard-Vergelesses, 220 hectares from villages to Grand Cru, each one with a very specific location. The southern part, at the border with Savigny is where we find mostly reds (and the premier cru les Vergelesses). The north-east part, sloping down hill is more white vocate. Here wines are usually more austere than other parts of the CdB, especially for the exposition which gives a cooler micro-climate.
Than we have Savigny les Beaunes, from which we tried a chardonnay village on our first night in Beaune. From Simon Bize et Fils the Savigny les Beaune chardonnay was a great village in our opinion, Patrick decided to plant more chardonnay in 1996 which was considered crazy at that time but after ten years his intuition was fully paid back. We had the 2012 and was an incredible wine with great acidity and minerality which we have paired perfectly with a Terrine de campagne, very typical dish from Burgundy made with pork liver.
Pommard, 320 hectares from which more than a third are Premier Cru. Here is an area for red wines, and it’s usually always compared with the closest Volnay. The pinot noir from Pommard is usually a bit severe and austere, with strong tannin structure and less roundness. While the characteristic of PN in Volnay is the elegance, their wines have been considered the best wines of Burgundy for centuries, more transparent, less colored and very graceful. Here we stopped by in a lovely wine bar into the town of Volnay, where we tasted a Volnay Vieilles Vignes 2015 from Joseph Voillot. Very elegant and thin, with flower notes, a little bit of spiciness and extremely vertical in the mouth, absolutely one of the best PN we had in our vacation. It was perfectly paired with a light lunch at Le Cellier Volaysien, outdoor of course.
We arrived than in Mersault, an expanse of chardonnay vineyards from where the most famous white wines of the world come from. There are no grand crus in this commune but 17 Premier Cru and the peculiarity of Mersault is for sure the high quality of its villages. Here wines are floral and very mineral with an impressive longevity. The most famous premier cru, Les Perrieres is considered from most of the Burgundy experts like a grand cru.
Puligny-Montrachet is where you can find the most famous white grand cru of Burgundy, Bienvenues-Batard-Montrachet and Chevalier-Montrachet. The first have are more structured whites, more dense, while the Chevalier comes from a cooler area, higher altitudes and different soil composition. Here wines are more nervous, fresh and mineral. And than the famous climat of Montrachet which is part in the Puligny commune and part in the Chassagne commune. Following the words of Armando Castagno, the Montrachet of Puligny is more into the acidity while in Chassagne is more mineral.
Saint-Aubin is the area where you can find the best quality/price wines, maybe less complex in the nose compared to Puligny and Chassagne but always very mineral and with a good acidity.
Chassagne-Montrachet, now the 80% of the 15 climats of this commune are white wines but untile the 70’s it has been completely the opposite. Nowadays reds from Chassagne are a bit tannic and very austere while their whites are one of the best expressions of chardonnay in Burgundy. Wines here are intense, with more notes of flowers and ripened fruit and cereals, with a lot of minerality and an incredible persistence.
Santenay Maranges is the border of the Cote d’Or, the last commune of this appellation and from there it starts the Cote Chalonnaise. Here now most of the production is for austere red wines, while there is a small portion of very good white wines which we have tasted one on our first night in Beaune. If you do not remember from the first article about Cote de Nuits, here is the wine, Santenay from Maison en Belles Lies, a bio-dynamic wine, very complex in the nose with notes of quince, pineapple, dried apricot and jam, but also herbaceous notes and a little spiciness, in the mouth a good structure and acidity with amazing notes of fruit.
On our last night we slept in Beaune city centre, at the hotel Hostellerie Cedre, a five star hotel with a very good price for quality of services and rooms. I loved so much their breakfast outdoor in the garden. We did not have the chance to try their restaurant (also if I am sure was pretty good) because we decided to have one of our favourite pairings, Asian food and Premier Cru! so we went to a Japanese restaurant on our last night.
Japanese food here is pretty serious so we had a tasting menu of both fish and meat, we stayed at the bar and the wine was Eu Remilly Saint-Aubin Premier Cru from Hubert Lamy, another incredible producer with low intervention in the vineyards. This wines from Saint Aubin I told you before are the best quality/price chardonnay, well I have to say it was not a super cheap wine but the result was great, we loved it, a very fresh and mineral wine while in the mouth super large and with an intense aroma in the mouth to be perfectly paired with this food.
So our amazing educational trip to Burgundy ends here, the morning after we visited a producer before leaving for our 9hours drive to Montalcino, which is Domaine Ballorin et Fils. I have to say it was a very quick visit, we tasted his wine from 20 different barriques to better understand his wine making process and techniques (he is bio-dynamic producer) and to understand a very important concept of Burgundy, each producer have usually vineyards in different parcels in various appellations among the region; he showed us his vineyards on a map, that are kilometers far away from each other, but it is very rare that a producer has all is vines together in the same appellation. He has vineyards from Marsannay to Nuits de Saint Georges and down in the Haute Cote. You can imagine the hard work beyond all this fragmented parcels. At the end we did not tasted any wine as he said he is already sold out and cannot open a bottle for tastings, but very generously gifted us with a bottle of Marsannay, as we said we have a wolf dog so he gifted us with his wine which represents a wolf in the label (French guys always surprise me somehow :))
I cannot wait to come back already, Burgundy, you have a piece of my heart!