Here’s another Burgundian village appellation that has always remained in the shadow of a more famous neighbor, in this case Gevrey-Chambertin. Fixin is known locally as the village to go to for solid yet affordable cru burgundy with the structure, concentration, and complexity similar to Gevrey-Chambertin’s wine, as well as the bright fruit and accessibility of its other neighbor, Marsannay. Besides its reputation for value, it is also famous locally as the hometown of Captain-Grenadier Claude Noisot, a fanatical loyalist to Napoleon who stood by his side until the bitter end. After Napoleon’s demise, Noisot built a park in Fixin dedicated to his hero, with statues, a museum, and native Corsican Laricio pine trees. Upon his deathbed, he asked to be buried in uniform, upright and at attention, saber drawn, facing Napoleon’s grave. Alas, the impenetrable limestone rock under Fixin prevented his wish from ever being realized. That samelimestone might explain the appeal of Fixin’s Pinot Noir.
Régis Bouvier in Marsannay achieves a rare hat trick in Burgundy, the mastering of all three colors–red, white and rosé, through reasonable yields and high quality terroirs. Bouvier makes the best Burgundian rosé that we have ever tasted, his whites are delicious, with their own particular character completely unlike other Chardonnays from Burgundy, and his reds are his crowning achievement, managing to be wild and exciting while refined and elegant at the same time.
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.
Trust the great winemakers, trust the great vineyards. Your wine merchant might even be trustworthy. In the long run, that vintage strip may be the least important guide to quality on your bottle of wine.—Kermit Lynch
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