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Oct 17, 2022

This week’s show covers the southern part of the Côte de Beaune, south of Meursault. In this part of the Côte de Beaune you will find some of the most famed, stunning Chardonnay on earth. We start with a recap of episode 455 to tie these two shows together. Then we work our way through the southern half of the Côte de Beaune and the most famed Chardonnays in the world from the Montrachet family of vineyards. Like the first show, this is quite a download and we try to provide a structure for understanding this study in terroir, which sets us up well to do deeper dives on other parts of Bourgogne so we can understand the villages even better.


As in the first show, we don't need much in the notes besides this wonderful map from the Vins de Bourgogne site, but I'll throw a few things down here just for recap.


Here are the show notes:

  • We discuss the pricing of Burgundy and why wines are so expensive. We talk about the difference between Burgundy and Napa that was sparked by a conversation on Patreon. Here is the podcast I talk about with Laurent Delaunaywhere we address some of the pricing issues. We talk a bit about the negociant system and the secondary market before moving to the communes.



This show covers the southern communes of the Côte de Beaune only, from Blagny to Marange 


Blagny (Blaeh-NE  -- Pinot Noir)

  • Between Puligny-Montrachet and Meursault, Blagny is a small village appellation with red wines exclusively of Pinot Noir. The majority of wine is classified as Premier Cru. Whites are permitted to be Meursault or Puligny-Montrachet, but not Blagny – since white is often better here, Blagny is not well-known because the name is only for red
  • Blagny has steeper vineyards than most spots in Burgundy and they are at higher altitudes 340- 400 metres/1,116 -1,312 ft vineyards. In the past, vignerons didn’t want to make wine in the village because it was too cool, but with climate change it is becoming more popular
  • Blagny’s Pinot is like red fruit, black fruit, sandalwood, and spice. With age which it needs because tannins can be strong, leather, pepper, cocoa, licorice, earthy, gamy notes appear.


St. Aubin: (Pinot Noir and Chardonnay)

  • Aubin is between Chassagne-Montrachet and Puligny-Montrachet, but it does not lie on the main Côte d’Or escarpment, but rather in a valley west of Chassagne. In warmer years, this cooler climate area does well, especially the top Premier cru En Remilly, Murgers des Dents de Chien (means teeth of the dog -due to the sharp stones there) and La Chatenière
  • Aubin grows a majority of white (Chardonnay), and the best sites arecloser to Puligny and Chassagne. Common notes are white flowers, lime, flint, chalk, mineral, almond, hazelnut, orange, mineral, and cinnamon. St. Aubin blanc can be sharp in youth or can be full – depending on vintage, terroir and producer. With age the wine is more like beeswax and honey and marzipan. Whites can age up to 10 years. The Pinot Noir is has black fruit with spice and cocoa notes. The wine can be tannic in youth but becomes softer and more herbal with 5-8 years.



Puligny-Montrachet & Chassagne-Montrachet (with Meursault, termed the "Côte des blancs" or “the slope of the "whites"

Puligny-Montrachet  (Chardonnay and Pinot Noir)

  • A very small vineyard area (95 ha/235 acres) of nearly all Chardonnay –the terroir is complex in Puligny. The hillside has many different limestone, marl, and alluvial soils. The slopes face east and southeast. Four Grands Crus of Montrachet are located in the borders of Puligny.  Top Premiers Crus: Le Cailleret, Les Pucelles, Les Demoiselles, Les Combettes, Folatières
  • The Chardonnay is known for floral, mineral, marzipan, hazelnut, lemongrass, croissant, honey, lemon curd, limeade, peach, and green apple aromas and flavors. Producers traditionally use oak fermentation and aging but the flavors are restrained.
  • We discuss the Grands Crus, all in the southern part of the appellation:
  • Bâtard-Montrachet (10.27 ha/25.38 acres, shared with Chassagne) and Bienvenues-Bâtard-Montrachet (3.43 ha/8.48 acres, all in Puligny) are lower down the hill from Montrachet. The wines are honeyed and minerally, but less rich than Le Montrachet and Chevalier-Montrachet
  • Le Montrachet (9.59 ha/ 23.7 acres, shared with Chassagne) is considered the best white wine on earth. The Grand Cru is from the ideal mid-slope. The wines are (apparently) elegant with powerful fruit, minerality, smoke, toasty aromas and flavors. Bottles start at about US$600/bottle
  • Chevalier-Montrachet (7.48 ha/18.48 acres, only in Puligny) is nearly as good as Le Montrachet, lying at a higher elevation, with less clay

Photo Credit: BIVB 

Chassagne (Chardonnay and Pinot Noir)

  • Chassagne is one of the largest communes in the Cote d’Or with 761 acres/308 ha – Chardonnay is 70% of production and Pinot Noir is 30%.
  • With complex soils, there is a range of quality and flavor in the village wines. The Chardonnay has pronounced mineral, white flower (verbena, honeysuckle), toasted almonds, toast (from oak), and fresh butter. The wine can be like peach in riper years. They are full but always have a backbone of acidity. The Pinots are fruity with black fruit, strawberry briar, and earth notes. It is soft but has tannin and needs time to mellow.
  • There are 55 Premier crus of varying quality, since most of the steep slopes are for Premier Crus and Grands Crus of Chardonnay, much of the Village wine on the flatter areas is Pinot Noir
  • Grands Crus: Shared with Puligny: Bâtard Montrachet, Le Montrachet
    • Criots-Bâtard-Montrachet: 100% in Chassagne -- 1.57 ha/3.88 acres, very small production


From the Bourgogne Website: To remember their names, here is the story they offer:

The Seigneur of Montrachet set off on a crusade, entrusting his virgin daughter to his favorite Chevalier (knight). In his absence, what happened, happened, and a child was born illegitimately. On his return from the Crusades, the Seigneur discovered this Bâtard (bastard), who started to cry when he saw him. The Seigneur then said: “Criots-Bâtard!” (The bastard cries!). But he was a good man, and welcomed the child into the family with these words: “Bienvenues-Bâtard-Montrachet” (Welcome, Bastard of Montrachet).



Santenay  (Pinot Noir and Chardonnay)

  • This is the last major village of the Côte d’Or and makes nearly all red wine, only 1/8 is Chardonnay. The orientation is still eastern and southern but here there is a shift to more southerly facing vineyards, still with limestone and clay.
  • Santenay’s Pinot Noir is earthy, with dark flower notes like rose petals, violet, red fruit and licorice. It can have lighter tannin, is acidic, and is a great intro to Burgundy that we can sort of afford. The Chardonnay is minerally and floral with great acidity, and a trace of nuts and spice.


Maranges MAHR-ohnjhze (Pinot Noir and Chardonnay)

  • This is where a total shift takes place and the Côte de Beaune terroir changes. In Maranges, the hills face south and southwest and the slopes become gentler, soils break down and become more of a patchwork. Gentler slopes, more heat and heavy clay lead to dark, rich wines (they were used as vins de médecin, to beef up the wines of the Côte de Nuits in bad years, so they never focused much on their own quality). Maranges is located in a different administrative department, Saône-et-Loire, where the Côte Chalonnaise lies. It’s made up of three villages of Cheilly-lès-Maranges, Dezize lès-Maranges and Sampigny-lès-Maranges
  • The Pinot Noir is fuller and darker with red preserves, black cherry, earth, licorice, pepper, and less nuance. The wines have smooth tannin, medium acidity and are similar to those of the Côte Chalonnaise. The Chardonnay is floral with minerals and honey, it is an easy drinking wine.


We hope you enjoyed the two part series on the Côte de Beaune. Lots to learn and this is just the start.


Photo Credit: BIVB 


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