The Cote d’Or’s natural escarpment is split into the Cote de Nuits and the Cote de Beaune. Much like its northern counterpart, the southerly Cote de Beaune is home to many great Burgundian wines. And as this article will explore, the Cote de Beaune produces world-renowned Chardonnays in greater numbers than in the Cote de Nuits, as well as outstanding Pinot Noirs.
Soft, ethereal reds and powerhouse whites
The Cote de Beaune is named after the town of Beaune and stretches South towards the river Dheune. Although roughly the same size as the Cote de Nuits, the thin strip of vineyards that make up the Cote de Beaune have a more spacious feel as the slopes are much gentler. At the northern end, exceptional Pinot Noir is grown in Pommard and Volnay, among other appellations, where many producers create soft red wines with finesse. Some excellent examples of Chardonnay can be found on the Corton hill (Corton and Corton-Charlemagne), however it is not until one moves further South that Chardonnay becomes more prevalent, with appellations such as Batard-Montrachet, Meursault and Chassagne-Montrachet producing whites that are known for being some of the most full bodied and age-worthy in the world.
The Premier and Grand Cru levels vineyards can be found where the slopes are more prominent, which give greater protection from extremes of weather, as well as better drainage and exposure to the sun – this tends to be at elevations between 820 and 980ft. As with the Cote de Nuits, the climate here is continental however the Cote de Beaune experiences slightly higher temperatures and heavier rainfall.
The Cote de Beaune’s limestone soils, remnants of the Jurassic period, are excellent for growing vines. Clay and marl are also found in this area. Organic and biodynamic methods are becoming increasingly popular and are used by many of the area’s great producers.
Focus Producer: Marc Colin
One such domaine is that of Marc Colin. Founded on just 6 hectares in the late 1970s, Domaine Marc Colin is now run by two of his children, Caroline and Damien, who have doubled the domaine’s holdings to 12 hectares spread over 26 appellations in Saint Aubin, Chassagne-Montrachet, Puligny-Montrachet and Santenay. The domaine uses part biodynamic methods and part culture raisonée manage to avoid the use of pesticides in their vines. Domaine Marc Colin produces wines of all levels right up to Grand Cru and produces on average 80,000 bottles per year – 90% of which is white wine and 10% red. Damien and Caroline focus on producing white wines with great freshness, rather than richness, which has in recent years established the domaine’s reputation as a top producer of white wine in the Cote de Beaune.
Focus Producer: Comte Armand
Conversely, one of the top red wine producers in the Cote de Beaune is Domaine Comte Armand. Dating back to 1828, the domaine started with a small Premier Cru monopole, which is now considered to be one of the best vineyards in Pommard: Clos des Epeneaux. Expansion in 1994 brought vineyards in Volnay and Auxey-Duresses into the Comte Armand fold.
Since 2014 winemaker Paul Zinetti has focused on producing wines from across the domaine’s 9 hectares that are reflective of their terroir. The domaine has practiced organic farming methods since 1999 and uses gentle extraction along with a long maceration to create a selection of outstanding Pinot Noirs.