The Hill of Corton sits just north of Beaune, dividing Burgundy’s Côte d’Or in two. Local inhabitants have tended vines here since Roman times. The Emperor Charlemagne (742-814) was a particularly enthusiastic patron of the wines of Corton, and the hill’s most famous whites are still named for him today.
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The Côte d’Or is home to nearly all of Burgundy’s most famous wines. Centuries ago local monks discovered the Côte’s unique combination of soil, exposition, slope, and weather; today it continues to be a near-perfect place to grow Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.
The Domaine Jean Collet in Chablis had a tough 2016. Mother Nature awoke on the wrong side of the bed that year, and the vintage had just about every malady you can think of — hail, frost, mildew, grape maladies, sunburnt fruit, and more. The domaine lost about 60% of the crop, but the fruit that survived was superb.
Châteauneuf-du-Pape is the quintessential winter red wine. Grown under the brilliant Provencal sun, the best examples combine richness and elegance in a way that’s hard to match anywhere in the world.
The Côte de Nuits is a narrow band of vineyards stretching from Beaune to Dijon. Perched along the slope of an east-facing hill, this famous strip of vines produces many of the world’s priciest and most sought-after red wines.
Vines have covered the steep hillsides of the Rhône river for over 2000 years. Sprouting from vertiginous granite slopes, gnarled syrah vines bake in the summer sun and produce intense, concentrated juice that becomes deep and unmistakable red wine.
Of all the white Burgundy we import, none is a purer expression of Chardonnay than Nicolas Maillet’s classic Maconnais cuvées. They’re cool, round, unadulterated Chardonnay with excellent balance and no oak. If the Côte d’Or offers Burgundies of pedigree and refinement, then the Maconnais offers Burgundies of vibrancy and joy.
There’s a sense of ancient history in the south of France. Roman-era towns and crumbling ruins dot the countryside — even the modern highways follow the ancient “Via Agrippa” of the Romans. Winemaking here is just as old, and archeologists have found presses dating back to 400 BC.
For white wines, it doesn’t get much drier than Muscadet. Grown near the mouth of the Loire River, Muscadet is at once brisk and hearty — the essence of the windswept Atlantic coast.
One of cooking’s most intoxicating aromas comes from the Maillard reaction. It’s the flavor associated with browned foods: think a well crusted steak, chocolate, bread crusts, coffee beans, and dark beer. First identified in 1912 by Louis Camille Maillard, the reaction is similar to caramelization, but produces earthier, more complex flavors.
With frigid air arriving this week across the country, the warm sunlight of summer in Provence may seem a long way off. But pour yourself a glass of smooth, cozy Châteauneuf-du-Pape, close your eyes, and you might even forget to check the temperature outside.
Burgundy doesn’t have to be expensive or ageworthy to be delicious. A talented winemaker with excellent terroir can make terrific wine miles from the main drag, and today’s wine is a perfect example.
The monks and farmers of France have spent centuries years identifying the grape varietals that best fit their lands. Most grape-place pairings were settled long ago, and now the happy marriages — Syrah in the Northern Rhône, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay in Burgundy, Sauvignon Blanc in Sancerre — produce many of the world’s finest expressions of each varietal.
The towns of Pommard and Volnay are giants of the Côte de Beaune reds. Though less than a mile apart, the two towns represent opposing profiles – Volnay tending toward elegant and feminine, and Pommard toward sturdy and masculine. As neighbors they provide an excellent example of the microterroirs of Burgundy.