Last week, we started looking at the areas included in Burgundy, and discussed Chablis. Moving South, we now hit what is arguably one of the most important wine producing regions in the world- the Cotes d'Or. The word "Cotes" loosely translated means "slope", and this aptly describes the "Slope of Gold" where these fantastic wines come from. The Cotes d'Or is broken into two smaller sections, Cotes de Nuits, and Cotes de Beaune. We will be looking at Cotes de Nuits briefly today, and the Cotes de Beaune next week.
When looking at the Cotes de Nuits, the first thing to notice is that it produces nearly exclusively red wines. One easy way to remember this is that "nuits" can mean "dark"- thus, it makes dark wine. The wines that come out of this region are absolutely stunning. They have a range of flavors varying from dusty cherry to licorice to tobacco to barnyard. It really is amazing to see how the wines from individual vineyards can all be made of Pinot Noir grapes, yet taste so vastly different. Since we are just looking briefly at the area, we will just mention the major ones. The easiest way to tell how good of a wine a vineyard will produce is to look at where it lies on the hillside. Essentially, the vineyards toward the top of the slope are better, as they have much more drainable soil and sun contact. Most of these vineyards are first recognized by the villages that they are near. The villages with Grand Cru vineyards are:
Flagey-Echezeaux (which contains the remarkable Echezeaux vineyard)
Vosne-Romanee (which contains the Romanee-Conti vineyard, often one of the most expensive wines in the world)
Remember that a Village wine often has a hyphen in the name, whereas a Grand Cru wine sometimes will, sometimes not. It's confusing trying to know that a Gevrey-Chambertin is a village, and that Charmes-Chambertin is a vineyard, I know. At least you don't have to memorize it for a test!
So, there you have it- a brief overview of some of the top red wines you can possibly buy. Go buy one, and toast on Christmas!