The idea of “value Burgundy” may seem like an oxymoron, and indeed, with low yields and high prices in the region’s most prestigious villages, many consumers have had little choice but to look elsewhere. Yet, there are exceptions to every rule, and Burgundy fanatics would do well to follow the age-old mantra to “look where no one else is looking”—or at least, where nobody is looking right now. The Hautes-Côtes may well be Burgundy’s future, and a number of top producers have already made investments in this curious appellation. Consisting of vineyards at the very top of the slope that makes up the Côte de Beaune and Côte de Nuits, it was long deemed too cold to produce wines of any quality. Add extremely poor, stony soils to the equation, and there was really no reason for a vigneronne to break her back to make an insipidly lean, thin wine. But in today’s warmer climate, these late-ripening sites have suddenly taken on immense value. The cost of land is a pleasant contrast to the exorbitantly priced parcels on the Côte, and those who had the foresight to plant here are already reaping the rewards of this as of yet unheralded appellation. Among these is Domaine Méo-Camuzet, the historic Vosne-Romanée estate with such a prestigious array of premier cru and grand cru holdings to its name that its Hautes-Côtes de Nuits parcel stands apart as the humble outlier. But, sitting at altitude directly above the grand cru Echezaux, the Clos Saint Philibert is just a stone’s throw from some of the most prestigious terroir in all of Burgundy. Sensing this potential, the domaine planted this monopole to Chardonnay in the early 1990s. The vineyard has since affirmed its character, consistently producing a white Burgundy of slicing vivaciousness. While such a cool, rocky terroir certainly favors freshness and minerality in spades, the abundant white limestone also reflects sunshine onto the grapes, endowing the wine with a delightful expression of ripe, fleshy fruit. Value, approachability, and undeniable pedigree—you’ll see exactly why the Hautes-Côtes is being hailed as Burgundy’s future shining star.
Méo-Camuzet is one of the most celebrated domaines of the Côte d’Or, located in the heart of prestigious Vosne-Romanée. The domaine boasts fourteen hectares of land in some of the most spectacular appellations and crus of Burgundy. Méo-Camuzet bottles four astounding grands crus, ten premier crus, several village wines, one Bourgogne Rouge, and only one white. Vigneron Jean-Nicolas Méo aims for balance and purity of fruit, which he accomplishes with terrific success. Though delicate and fine, even in their youth, the paradoxical concentration and intensity of these wines make them ideal for long cellar aging.
In eastern central France, Burgundy is nestled between the wine regions of Champagne to the north, the Jura to the east, the Loire to the west, and the Rhône to the south. This is the terroir par excellence for producing world-class Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.
The southeast-facing hillside between Dijon in the north and Maranges in the south is known as the Côte d’Or or “golden slope.” The Côte d’Or comprises two main sections, both composed of limestone and clay soils: the Côte de Nuits in the northern sector, and the Côte de Beaune in the south. Both areas produce magnificent whites and reds, although the Côte de Beaune produces more white wine and the Côte de Nuits more red.
Chablis is Burgundy’s northern outpost, known for its flinty and age-worthy Chardonnays planted in Kimmeridgian limestone on an ancient seabed. Vézelay is a smaller area south of Chablis with similar qualities, although the limestone there is not Kimmeridgian.
To the south of the Côte de Beaune, the Côte Chalonnaise extends from Chagny on its northern end, down past Chalon-sur-Saône and encompasses the appellations of Bouzeron in the north, followed by Rully, Mercurey, Givry, and Montagny.
Directly south of the Chalonnaise begins the Côte Mâconnais, which extends south past Mâcon to the hamlets of Fuissé, Vinzelles, Chaintré, and Saint-Véran. The Mâconnais is prime Chardonnay country and contains an incredible diversity of soils.
Let the brett nerds retire into protective bubbles, and whenever they thirst for wine it can be passed in to them through a sterile filter. Those of us on the outside can continue to enjoy complex, natural, living wines.
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