Just south of Dijon, the Côte d’Or comprises the Côte de Nuits — where 80 per cent of grapes are Pinot Noir — and its southerly neighbour, the Chardonnay-dominated Côte de Beaune. With cold winters, hot and short summers, and notoriously unpredictable weather around harvest time, Burgundy is among the most difficult wine regions, but also one of the most rewarding in merciful vintages. All of Burgundy’s Grand Crus (save for Chablis) are in the Côte d’Or; it is the home of the region’s most acclaimed and collectible bottles, though many relative bargains lie in wait.
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Ambling south through the Côte d’Or, I have chosen five wines that illustrate the complexity and elegance that great Burgundy can bring to Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. These bottles and other fine selections can be found in Christie’s Wine Online Autumn Auction.
The Saintly Patch
Domaine Fourrier, Gevrey-Chambertin Clos St Jacques 2003
Overseen by the pious stone eyes of its namesake statue marking the area’s importance as a rest stop on The Way Of St. James — and trampled by pilgrims’ weary feet — the renowned 1er Cru vineyard of Clos St Jacques offers vivid wines with more feminine, approachable flavours than typical Gevrey. Domaine Fourrier's is a rich and ripe example packed full of redcurrant, rose and cherry; nonetheless, this wine has plenty of energy and precision.
The Northern Rival
Domaine Dugat-Py, Mazis-Chambertin 2003
A worthy rival to its august Grand Cru neighbours Chambertin and Chambertin-Clos de Bèze. Mazis is an underrated gem. Wild and earthy, this example is a sensual cup of brambles and chocolate, with freshening elements of spicy oak and herbs. Age smiles benevolently on Mazis, stirring up deep currant and prune aromas.
A Vestal Vintage
Louis Jadot, Bonnes Mares 2000
Picture a group of shrouded medieval Cistercian nuns, habits flowing among grapevines in the September heat, their hands calloused and sticky from picking tight clusters of Pinot Noir. These ‘Good Women’ (Bonnes Mères) tended the vines and for centuries produced the wines of Bonnes Mares, which straddles the communes of Chambolle-Musigny and Morey-Saint-Denis. Ironically, the nuns’ legacy is a masculine style of wine: Robust and rounded, dark fruit abounds, with a firm and full finish. Warm baking spices lift the nose, and a wild rose note adds vivacity to the palette.
Mixed Burgundy inc Vosne-Romanée Les Suchots, Bouchard 2005, offered in Christie’s Wine Online Autumn Auction
Fruit of the Stumps
Mixed Burgundy inc Vosne-Romanée Les Suchots, Bouchard 2005
Twisted and gnarled as witches’ fingers pointing maliciously at the oncoming hail are the ‘old stumps’ (suchots) in this famed 1er Cru plot of Vosne-Romanée. The wines are vibrant, with a sense of heft delivered by coffee and mocha notes; a cloak of blueberry and strawberry overlays the palate. Drawn from the twisted and gnarled Burgundian ‘old stumps’ reaching deep into the marly clay soil, these wines are plump and lush.
A Fight to Thrive
Meursault Perrières, Joseph Drouhin 2000
The most heralded 1er Cru in Meursault, Perrières (Old French for ‘quarries’) has mother rock of limestone and scree, which forces the vines’ roots deep underground in search of a watery drop. Striving to flourish in the Burgundian sun, the berries battle for sunlight and water, producing small grapes with concentrated flavours. The wine is rich as apricot jam on a warm brioche roll, refined as clarified butter sinking into a semolina pudding.
Find these bottles among an extensive selection of Burgundies and other fine wines in Christie’s Wine Online Autumn Auction. Place your bids online now until October 6.