As a young man delving into wine long ago, I read, yet never understood, about certain wines being praised as “earthy” . . . until I tasted Chevillon’s Vieilles Vignes cuvée and the light finally clicked on.
Brothers Bertrand and Denis Chevillon are the fifth generation managers of this property in Nuits-Saint-Georges, which means they work the vines and make the wines. Both brothers bring passion, experience, a tireless work ethic, and intensity to their work at the domaine. Tasting through their palate of Nuits-Saint-Georges premier crus is a venerable tour of the appellation. Their Passetoutgrain, a blend of Pinot and Gamay, is a worthy introduction and their rare (two barrels made) Nuits-Saint-Georges Blanc is an exotic treasure that ages just as long as the domaine’s fabled reds. And their Bourgogne Aligoté, Bourgogne Chardonnay and Bourgogne Rouge are grown and vinified with the same care as their premier crus. It shows.
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.
When buying red Burgundy, I think we should remember:
1. Big wines do not age better than light wine. 2. A so-called great vintage at the outset does not guarantee a great vintage for the duration. 3. A so-called off vintage at the outset does not mean the wines do not have a brilliant future ahead of them. 4. Red Burgundy should not taste like Guigal Côte-Rôtie, even if most wine writers wish it would. 5. Don’t follow leaders; watch yer parking meters.
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