In recent years the top wines from the Côte d’Or, the heartland of Burgundy, have outperformed Bordeaux in auction houses and throughout the global market. The Côte d’Or’s greatest wines are notoriously difficult to understand, have tiny productions and are hard to source.
Burgundy does not classify wine by producer, as is the case in Bordeaux, instead by individual vineyards such as the Grand Cru vineyards Le Montrachet and Chambertin, or by their villages Puligny-Montrachet and Gevrey-Chambertin. Unlike Bordeaux’s straight forward Grand Cru pyramid, Burgundy is extremely complicated and divided into classes; Grand Cru, Premier Cru and Village. The prized Grand Cru vineyards are found on marl and limestone outcrops which run through the middle of each vineyard. The Cote d’Or is split into two halves, those to the south of N uit-St-George known as the Côte de Beaune, predominating in Chardonnay. To the north is the Cote de Nuit, which is mostly Pinot Noir, this is where we find the extraordinary villages of Gevrey-Chambertin and Vosne Romanée. Burgundy sits on the same latitude as Seattle (Washington), located inland and therefore has a continental climate, meaning it experiences cold winters and very hot, sunny summers. Frost, hail and rain are common, as is variable weather; as a result this region sees significant vintage variation.
There is a large fragmentation of vineyard plots throughout Burgundy due to the Napoleonic law of succession, which required land owners to divide their holdings equally amongst their sons; the vineyard of Le Montrachet – reputably the greatest white wine vineyard in the world – shares 18 owners and 26 producers.