The secrets of la Côte Chalonnaise

vue chateau

Many people who come to the Burgundy wine region only visit the iconic villages in the Côtes de Beaune or Côtes de Nuits districts. They are, of course, the most famous villages from which the most reputed and equally most expensive Pinots and Chardonnays come from. Once budding wine amateurs and curiosity victimes have gotten over the tiny size of the estates, the lack of Grand Crus to taste and the relatively high prices of most of the wines, the inevitable question is asked: “Why are all Burgundy wines so expensive and the top estates difficult to visit?” I reply quite simply: “If you want great value for money and friendly wine makers in Burgundy then take a look a little further south…there you’ll find your Eldorado”

So heading south from Beaune, we enter the third district called la Cote Chalonnaise, (the Chalon hillside), named after it’s mother city of Chalon and home to glass manufacture and the birthplace of photography. The city lies on the Saône river.
The côte Châlonnaise covers 25 km (16 miles), from Chagny, south of Beaune to Saint Vallerin. The vineyards can be found on the east facing hills, but there is more farm land around than in the Cotes de Beaune. It has five main appellations: Bouzeron, Rully, Mercurey, Givry and Montagny.
On the northern tip, the village of Rully produces both Pinot noir and Chardonnay that are light and fruity as well as the famous sparkling: Crémant de Bourgogne. Bouzeron is the village that produces the best Aligoté white (the alternative in Burgundy to Chardonnay ). Going south, the villages of Mercurey and Givry produce mainly Pinot Noirs which often rival those of the Cotes de Beaune. Right at the south is the village of Montagny with its more powerful Chardonnay, often compared to Pouilly-Fuissé.

Domaine Desvignes - Givry

Domaine Desvignes – Givry

Bouzeron.
Varietal: Aligoté
Surface area: 47 hectares (117 acres)
Production: 385,000 bottles (32,100 cases)
Characteristics: Aligoté is a pale yellow color with a greenish hue. It has a silky taste and a floral bouquet. Vanilla aromas are also present.

Rully.
Varietal: Pinot noir and Chardonnay
Appellations: villages and 23 plots are premier Cru.
Surface area: 224 hectares of Chardonnay (560 acres) of which 59 (147 acres) are premier Cru
133 hectares (332 acres) are Pinot noir of which 37 (92 acres) are premier Cru
Production: 1,510,600 bottles of Chardonnay of which 449,000 bottles are premier Cru.
The Pinot Noirs produce 543,000 bottles of which 158,000 bottles are premier Cru.
Characteristics: the Rully white has a golden colour and is very elegant. It has a complex range of aromas going from hazlenut to violet flower, through spices and candied fruit.

Mercurey.
Varietal: Pinot noir and Chardonnay
Appellations: village and 31 premier Cru plots
Surface area: 535 hectares of Pinot (1338 acres) of which 133 (332 acres) are premier Cru. 111 hectares of Chardonnay (227 acres) of which 30 (75 acres) are premier Cru.
Production: 3,156,000 bottles of Pinot noir (810,000 bottles of which are premier Cru). 553,500 bottles are Chardonnay of which 110,000 bottles are premier Cru.
Characteristics: the Pinots are generally well structured, full-bodied with strong yet smooth tannins. Notes of cherry, spice and liquorice are quite common.
The chardonnay possesses similar qualities to those found in Beaune, including plenty of yellow fruits.

Givry.
Varietal: Pinot noir and Chardonnay
Appellations: village and 26 premier Cru plots
Surface area: 224 hectares of Pinot (560 acres) of which 97 (242 acres) are premier Cru. 45.5 hectares of Chardonnay (114 acres) of which 9.5 (24 acres) are premier Cru.
Production: 1,434,000 bottles of Pinot noir (623,000 bottles of which are premier Cru). 327,334 bottles are Chardonnay of which 69,334 bottles are premier Cru.
Characteristics: the Pinots are elegant with smooth tannins. Lots of dark fruit, tending on the jammy side. Often compared to Volnay.
The chardonnay possesses a certain minerality, almost flinty yet elegant and ages well. Little produced but often some great surprises especially as an alternative for lovers of Chablis.

Montagny.
Varietal: Chardonnay
Appellations: village and 49 premier Cru plots
Surface area: 311 hectares (778 acres) of which 201 (502 acres) are premier Cru.
Production: 2,438,000 bottles are Chardonnay of which 1,611,000 bottles are premier Cru.
Characteristics: The chardonnay has a beautiful golden-green hue and offers a bouquet of both hazlenut and fern and a saline taste mixed with fruits such as pear and banana. A fresh and very enjoyable Chardonnay especially with seafood.

Clos du Roi - Chateau Chamirey

Clos du Roi – Chateau Chamirey

All in all, this district has to be discovered, not just for the quality of its wines, but also for the beauty of its landscapes and the kind and warm welcome of its estate owners.

This is also the region where you’ll find the best “Aligoté” – the alternative to Chardonnay and partner to the blackcurrant liquor in the cocktail known as Kir.

You will also find excellent sparkling under the appellation name of “Cremant de Bourgogne”. This is a great value local “sparkler” at around 10€ the bottle.

Who to look out for….
Vincent Lumpp in Givry – excellent Pinots

Domaine Desvignes in Givry – great premier crus

Domaine du Clos Salomon in Givry – especially Clos Salomon premier Cru 2012 monopoly
Domaine Saint-Jacques in Rully – excellent premier crus Marissou and La Fosse in both red and white.
Chateau de Chamirey in Mercurey – all their wines!!
Domaine de Suremain in Mercurey – premier crus red La Bondue and Clos l’Eveque
Domaine Chanzy in Bouzeron – the village white Clos de la Fortune
Stephane Aladame in Montagny – especially his premier Cru vielles vignes.
And there are many more…

 

 

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One Response to The secrets of la Côte Chalonnaise

  1. Pingback: ワインの本場フランスの魅力凝縮!ブルゴーニュ地方おすすめ観光地 厳選

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