The northern part of the “Golden Hill”
Historically, it is believed that the best wines of Burgundy are produced in the north of the region, more precisely – in the “Golden Hill” area, which the French themselves call the Côte d’Or. The climatic conditions, the unique terroir, the skills of the monks, who created vine plantations already in the Middle Ages, old winemaking families – all this together forms the value of this region. The Côte d’Or, on the other hand, consists of two parts: in the north, the Côte de Nuits, centered in Noy-Saint-Georges, and in the south, the Côte de Beaune, which is located around the city of Beaune, which is unofficially called the capital of all Burgundy.
The vineyards of the Côte de Nuits and Hautes Côtes de Nuits start from the northern appellation of Marsannay, just eight kilometers from Dijon, where the famous D974 road, known in the wine world as the Grand Cru road, winds its way. This road leads through picturesque landscapes, vineyards included in the UNESCO World Heritage List. Due to the huge concentration of Grand Cru vineyards (24 vineyards out of all 33 Grand Crus), the local wines have the highest possible reputation. That is why the north of Burgundy is often called the Champs-Élysées. This comparison is further strengthened by the fact that there is an excellent terroir between Dijon and Corgolund, where the vines are planted in a hilly area on a narrow strip – about 20 kilometers long, but only 200 meters wide in places. The red grape variety Pinot Noir is mainly grown here, but a small amount of refined white wines from Chardonnay and very little from Aligote are also produced.
Similar to beads strung on a thread, charming villages are located just a few kilometers apart among the dense rows of vineyards on the hills, giving
Côte de Nuits regional wines names: Chambolle-Musigny, Côte de Nuits-Village, Fixin, Gevrey-Chambertin, Marsannay, Morey-Saint-Denis, Nuits-Saint-Georges, Vosne-Romanée, Vougeot.
These villages, clustered around their Gothic churches, sometimes also built in the Romanesque style, with fountains and washing dishes, are the symbol of Burgundy. When you go for a walk around the area, you will see typical architecture with beautiful houses made of limestone and patterned tile roofs. More often they are wineries built in the 18th or 19th century, almost all of which have old cellars hidden from prying eyes. But all you have to do is make friends with their owners, and the wonderful world of wines will become available to true connoisseurs.
Each wine of this appellation has its own style and its own palette of flavors: the energetic Fixin wines, the juicy reds and rosés of Marsannay, the airiness of Gevrey-Chambertin, the juicy flavor of Chambolle-Musigny, the sophistication of Vosne-Romanée and the firmness of Vougeot wines. Along with the Grand Cru vineyards, we must mention the significant Premier Cru fields, of which there are really many here.
Deviating from the main road, you will find yourself in the vineyards of the Hautes Côtes de Nuits, which also produce strong wines with individual character. Here, grapevines are grown on two plateaus at an altitude of 300-400 meters above sea level, so in an “elevated” area, hence the name given to this part of the region, which means “high” Côtes de Nuits in French. In the shadow of its famous neighbors, the local wines were almost forced out of the consumer market, but the local winemakers put up a patient and courageous campaign for survival and, starting in the 1950s, the Hautes Côtes de Nuits experienced a real renaissance. It should be noted that the local sparkling wines are endowed with excellent storage potential and are also reasonably priced.
The gastronomy of the Nordic wines is almost unlimited. Due to their refined character and at the same time rich taste, such wines are quite universal. Red wines pair wonderfully with beef dishes of all kinds, including steaks, ribs, stews and beef in wine sauce. Somewhat unexpectedly, these wines also pair very well with sweet and sour dishes, such as duck with orange sauce or exotic dishes cooked in a Moroccan tagine. The white wines of the region are ideal for fish, veal and white meat dishes.
Noble Wine reccommends
We offer a small insight into Burgundy wines with a Nordic character, created by small family winemakers in the Côte de Nuits that we know personally. Their work once inspired our team and we want to offer you to taste their wines as well.
Start your acquaintance with Marsannay and taste the wines of Domaine Charles Audoin. We recommend tasting this winemaker’s top wine from old vines from five different fields, Marsannay – Cuvée Marie Ragonneau, named in honor of a great-grandmother who continued her husband’s work in the field of wine when he died during the First World War.
To experience the true depth of the Nuits-Saint-Georges terroir, it is worth mentioning the wines of Domaine Henri Gouges. For more than 100 years, the family has specialized exclusively in the vineyards of this appellation. Every wine from this producer is a mirror of the local terroir and a standard of traditional winemaking.
If you find yourself in Chambolle-Musigny, Domaine Gille wine from 1er Cru vineyards can be a great buy. Only manual labor has been invested in the production of this wine, the harvest being obtained from three small plots belonging to an ancient family of winemakers – the Gille. Low yield, careful approach to production and velvety taste are the calling card of this wine.
Gevrey-Chambertin wines of a stricter and more traditional style can be traced back to the ancient winery Domaine Tortochot. This approach to winemaking allows for a wine with enormous storage potential, revealing the potential of a mature Pinot Noir. For example, the 2018 Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru “Lavaux St. Jacques” was highly appreciated by wine critics, who believe that its “star hour” will come in 10-15 years, and it is important to note that this is by no means the ultimate limit of such a wine.
The pearl of northern Burgundy is the Vosnee-Romanée appellation. It can take a long time to admire the subtleties and multifaceted flavors of the local wine bouquet, but you should try the exquisite Pinot Noir from Vosnee-Romanée at least once. But it is even better to compare the two styles of this production area, offered by representatives of the Gros wine dynasty – Michel Gros and his cousin Anne-François Gros:
For a full insight, you need to taste the wines from the production areas of less famous names, especially when it comes to the ancient production methods typical of Burgundy, implemented by Château de Villars Fontaine in the Hautes-Côtes de Nuits. Look out for the 2017 red wine Le Domaine de Montmain Hautes-Côtes de Nuits.
Despite this brilliant application of Côte de Nuits wines, one should not stop at exploring these northern Burgundy wines. Be sure to dive in and explore the wonderful wine depths of the Côte de Beaune, where a myriad of unprecedented gastronomic discoveries await you.