The Cote de Nuits by Yak Shaya
The Cote de Nuits comprises the northern part of the Cote d'Or. From the (not so
important) communes of Fixin and Marsannay near the southern outskirts of Dijon, down
to Nuits-St. Georges. Almost 100% of the wine here is red, including some of the best in
The northern-most (very) important and largest commune of the Cote de Nuits.
About 100,000 cases of varied quality. Only a small percentage (from good years and good
producers) shows the basic characteristics of Gevrey: firm, deep colored, bouquet of fruit
and spice, meaty taste with long velvet finish.
Best at 4-8 years after the vintage.
About 20,000 cases of very good to superb wine from 25 different vineyards in
Gevrey-Chambertin. The best of which are actually of Grand Cru quality. At the top level
we find the Clos St.-Jacques followed closely by Les Cazetiers and Lavaux
St.-Jacques. Then there are Les Veroilles, Combe aux Moines, Fontanay, Les
Corbeaux and the lighter Aux Combottes. Then there are the rest.
Best at 7-13 years.
The Grand Cru wines of Gevrey-Chambertin are, at their best, the epitome of what Burgundy
is all about. Full and complex yet delicate and elegant. Perfumed and ethery yet earthy
and well structured.
About 5,000 cases. One of the best-known French wines. Should be (but not always is) one
of the greatest wines on earth. Clear and deep color, striking yet delicate bouquet,
intense (but not heavy) flavor with finesse and harmony in the aftertaste. Best at 12-20
years.My favorite Chambertin is made by Rousseau.
Chambertin-Clos de Beze:
About 4,500 cases. A continuation of the Chambertin vineyard and of similar
stature. Actually Clos de Beze may call itself Chambertin but not the other way around. It
is as good and in practice is often better than Chambertin. Same keeping qualities
as Chambertin. L. Jadot (as well as others) makes beautiful wine here.
About 4,200 cases. Considered the best Grand Cru of the second group, after
Chambertin and Clos de Beze. A lot of finesse and perfect balance. Best at
6-12 years. I particularly like the Mazis of Faiveley.
About 2,000 cases. Extremely fine though less vigorous than Chambertin. A most delicate if
not as weighty wine. Best at 8-10 years
Charmes-Chambertin (and Mazoyeres-Chambertin):
About 12,500 cases. The largest of the Grand Cru vineyards of gevrey. Fine, supple red
wine of varied quality. Can be excellent, but some are only so-so. Best at 6-12 years.
About 800 cases. Beautiful deep, velvety color. A Grand Cru with its own 'personality'
quite different from the rest. Best at 8-13 years. I love Ponsot and Drouhin rendition of
About 3,000 cases. A masculine Grand Cru, yet lacking the delicacy of Chambertin.
Best at 10-15 years.
About 1200 cases. Rich and delicate, yet firm and long lasting. Best at 8-15 years.
Excellent examples from Rousseau, Roumier and Mugneret.
Faiveley, Esmonin, Drouhin, Jadot, Dujac, P. Leclerc, R. Leclerc, A. Rousseau,
Leroy, Roty, G. Mugneret, Roumier.
A small commune, situated between Gevrey-Chambertin and Chambolle-Musigny. Amazing number
of Grands Cru.
About 2000 cases. One of the most reliable 'villages' wines of the Cote d'Or. Usually
better (and cheaper) than their counterparts from Gevrey-Chambertin or even Vosne-Romanee.
The wine should have good full color, intense bouquet, fruity taste and smooth finish. In
good vintages, they should be cellared for at least six years.
About 1400 cases. There are more than 20 different Premiers Cru in Morey-St. Denis, though
they tend to be overshadowed by the five Grands Cru, and by the relative quality of the
'Villages' wine. They are more robust yet elegant and velvety than the 'Villages'. The few
well known 1er Cru are Clos des Ormes, Les Sorbet, Les Fremieres, Les Charmes and
Le Clos de la Boussiere. They are at their best at 7-10 years.
Four Grands Cru are fully within the commune's boundaries. A fifth (Bonnes Mares) lies
mostly in Chambolle-Musigny, though a small part is in Morey. It will be discussed under
Clos de la Roche:
About 5800 cases. Arguably the finest Grand Cru of Morey and one of the best reds in
Bourgogne. Powerful wine with great depth and elegance. While its superlative fruit
bouquet is apparent quite early, the wine is at its best at 8-15 years. My favorite is the
Clos de la Roche made by Ponsot in this domaine's good years. Drouhin too does a
good job here.
Clos St. Denis:
About 2000 cases. Lighter, more subtle but less intense than Clos de la Roche. Although
the commune of Morey availed itself of this wine's name some 70 years ago, today it is
considered the lesser of the Grands Cru. Best at 7-12 years. Excellent example is made by Dujac.
Clos des Lambrays:
About 3000 cases. This used to be a problematic wine. The vineyard has always been
considered one of the potentially best in the Cote, yet the neglect of the former owners
led to indifferent wine in the last few decades. As of the early eighties, the Saier
brothers took over the practically monopole (a term used in Bourgogne to denote the very
rare one-owner vineyard), and their wine from 1985 and on is highly praised nowadays.
Clos de Tart:
About 2500 cases. A walled vineyard that, like Clos de Vougeot, have been the same
for many hundreds of years. Unlike Clos de Vougeot (which is divided among more than 70
owners), the Clos de Tart is again a monopole. It belongs today to the famous
negociant Mommessin. The wine quality is varied. At best it is a rich wine, more intense
than Clos St. Denis, but perhaps not as rich as Clos de la Roche. In best
vintages Clos de Tart may reach the level of its potential.
George Lignier, Ponsot, Serveau, Dujac, Roumier, Armand Rousseau.
A very well known commune just south of Morey-St. Denis. Mostly red (and very little
white) wine from chalky soil makes the communes' wine, on every level, marked in finesse
rather than weight.
About 55000 cases. At best, charming, elegant, "feminine" wines, sometimes compared with
Volnay. They should never lack the underlying backbone of the Cote de Nuits, thus showing
deliciously harmonious fruit and texture. Many times though, due to sloppy winemaking,
they are just too heavy and alcoholic. Best at 5-10 years.
About 20000 cases. There are 19 Premiers Crus in Chambolle-Musigny, though most of them
are never sold under their vineyard name. More often than not, Chambolle 1er Cru is a
blend of few 1er Cru vineyards. The noted exceptions are Les Charmes and
Les Amoureuses. Les Amoureuses is (rightly!) one of the most sought-after wines in
Bourgogne. From a good year and a good producer, this wine easily rivals many Grands Crus
(in taste and in price). It is a deep wine with concentrated fruit bouquet and
delicate yet forceful and striking taste. Best at 6-12 years, much more for great vintages.
Chambolle-Musigny is lucky to have within its boundaries two of the best Grands Crus in
Bourgogne. Namely Musigny and Bonnes Mares (the later vineyard spills over to
About 3300 cases. There is a tiny quantity of very expensive and good white Musigny
made by Comte de Vogue. Red Musigny is almost without equal in Bourgogne. Its
perfect color and delicate, silky, velvety flavor make it the utmost elegant wine. almost
impossible to imagine a wine more fine. Very rare and very expensive. Needs 10-12 years
and can last 20. Best from Vogue, Mugnier, Drouhin and Jadot.
About 5000 cases. While this great wine retains the charming and feminine qualities
usually associated with Chambolle, its richness, depth and power make it seem almost
tannic in comparison to Les Amoureuses or Musigny. A great Bonnes Mares is
on par with Chambertin, Musigny and Corton. It has a great capacity
for ageing and needs 15-20 years to soften. It may last much longer. Best examples from
Vogue, Roumier, Groffier, Jadot and the old bottles from Clair-Dau.
Comte de Vogue, Jadot, Leroy, Dujac, Mugnier, Drouhin, Roumier, Clerget
A tiny and forgotten commune, world famous for its Clos de Vougeot Grand Cru historical
vineyard, enclosed by walls and having the same area for more than 600 years. This Grand
Cru (by statute if not by quality) vineyard produces three times as much wine as produced
from the 'Village' and the 1er Crus appellations combined.
About 1700 cases. Totally undistinguished red and some white wine.
About 4000 cases. There are three Premier Cru in Vougeot. One, Le Clos Blanc is a
monopole that produces a mediocre white wine. The other two, Les Cras and Les Petits
Vougeots are middle-of-the-road Cote de Nuits reds without much personality or finesse.
Clos de Vougeot:
About 18000 cases. The enormity of the vineyard (50 ha.), the varied soil and
micro-climate from the top of the hill down to the main road, and the more than 75
owners(!) - all combine to validate the fact that when one speaks of Clos de
Vougeot, one is actually referring to many different wines. Most of the Clos de
Vougeot produced is not worthy of the Grand Cru pedigree. Here, more than anywhere in
the Cote, the vinification accounts for more than the location. However, when this wine is
made by a competent producer of grapes from the top of the slope, it can be one of the
greatest (B)! It should have a fine ruby color, a slightly reticent floral bouquet with
firmness and length of flavor. Unfortunately this is not the case 90% of the time. At best
between 7 and 15 years.
Rene Engel, Jadot, Lescure, Meo-Camuzet, Mongeard-Mugneret, G. Mugneret, D. Rion, Jean
Gros, Gros Frere & Seur, Leroy, G. Roumier, J. Grivot.
Certainly the most celebrated commune in the Cote de Nuits (Bourgogne? the world?).
No superlatives can do justice to the great Grand Crus that are within the boundaries of
this lucky commune. Names like Romanee Conti, La Tache, Richebourg are without doubt the
most evocative names in Bourgogne (and IMHO - in the whole world). Even the 'lesser' Grand
Crus are among the greatest red (B). Lucky is the place where such wines as Grands Echezeaux,
Echezeaux, La Romanee, Romanee-St. Vivant are considered second best...
About 45000 cases. The straight Vosne wines are firmer than those of Chambolle, lighter
than Gevrey, less concentrated but more elegant than Nuits. They should be delicate with
well-defined bouquet, but unless they come from such illustrious sources as Leroy, Jayer,
Jean Gros, Meo-Camuzet and Faiveley - the are not always up to standard. They are
certainly not cheap, and are at their best at 7-12 years.
About 15000 cases. There are nine 1er Crus in Vosne Romanee - all of them are excellent to
superb! Situated around the Grand Crus vineyards, they are all very famous. From a good
source and a good year they are guaranteed to give pleasure. The Premier Cru of Vosne
Romanee are: Les Beaumonts, Les Brulees, Les Suchots, Les Malconsorts, Clos des Reas,
Les Chaumes, Les Reignos, Les Petits Monts and the rarely seen Les Gaudichots.
Fairly expensive but for a reason. Best at 8-15 years.
650 cases only. The most expensive red wine in the world (around $600 on release)!
This famous 1.8 ha monopole of DRC (Domaine de la Romanee Conti) is without doubt the most
prestigious red (B) and probably the most sought-after red wine in the world. As I have
never tasted it, I can only quote others. "extraordinary elegance, purity of tone,
complexity and sheer class of wine...". 10 years should be the earliest for opening a
Romanee Conti, it is better at 15, and may last twice as much.
2000 cases. Another monopole of DRC. Some tasters, fortunate enough to have drunk both,
prefer La Tache to Romanee Conti. Beautiful color, subtle and enticing bouquet, silky and
seductive taste with a totally satisfying finish. Perfection at 10-20 years, will last
2500 cases. The richest, most voluptuous and overpowering of all Grands Crus. Deep color,
explosive floral-spicy bouquet, great warmth and generous concentration. The efforts of
Jean Gros, Leroy, Henri Jayer, Meo-Camuzet and again of course - DRC, are all divine
nectars. Should be drunk at 12-20 years, more for great vintages.
350 cases. At 0.84 ha. this is the smallest Appellation Controlee in France. A monopole of
the Ligier-Belair family. The wine is currently bottled and distributed by Bouchard
P&F. This wine is not worth (IMHO) the $180+ a bottle price tag.
2500 cases. Almost "affordable" Vosne Grand Cru ($100-150). Should have perfect balance,
initial lightness with great finesse, oriental touch, breeding and length. Best from DRC,
Leroy, R. Arnoux and even Moillard and Latour. Should be drunk at 8-15 years.
About 3000 cases. A really affordable and excellent Grand Cru ($75-110). Rich ruby color
and fine bouquet though lacking the 'oriental' spiciness of its bigger brothers. Firm and
velvety on the palate. Great examples come from DRC, Mongeard-Mugneret, Engel, Sirugue and
Drouhin. Best at 10-16 years.
About 10000 cases. Lighter, less concentrated than Grands Echezeaux. Should really be
declassified as a good Premier Cru (it is even cheaper than the best 1er Crus). Good examples
from DRC, Mongeard-Mugneret, Faiveley, Dujac, Engel, Jayer. Best at 7-13 years.
La Grand Rue:
A monopole of the Lamarche family, this vineyard was recently upgraded from Premier Cru status
after years of legal litigations. Sandwiched between Romanee Conti and La Tach, this is
potentially a sublime vineyard though in practice the result in the bottle can never be
compared to its neighbors.
DRC, Leroy, Henri Jayer, Rene Engel, Meo-Camuzet, Mongeard-Mugneret, G. Mugneret, R. Arnoux,
Jean Gros, Moillard, Jadot, Drouhin, Faiveley.
The last commune of the Cote de Nuits. The name "Nuits" has always been associated with
the better known wines of Bourgogne, even though there are no Grands Crus here. The
reputation is totally undeserved, and is derived from two facts that have nothing to do
with quality. First, like Pommard, "Nuits" always was a very easy name to
remember. The second reason for the old established demand for Nuits is the simple fact
that before the laws of appellations in Bourgogne, all of what we call today 'Villages'
wine, and even some of the 1er Crus, were sold through the market places of near-by
towns. The tiny commune of Vosne-Romanee, for example, did not have a market of its own.
Thus all but its most well known wines was sold as "Nuits" from the town's market.
About 130000 cases. Despite their word-wide reputation, the straight Nuits-St Georges is
often disappointing. Even the good examples are sturdy and strong, lacking the finesse of
Chambolle-Musigny or the style of Vosne-Romanee. The majority are downright coarse. In any
event they require many years to begin to show well. Unlike many other (B), they are
really hard to enjoy young.
About 15000 cases. There are more than 30 1er Crus in Nuits-St. Georges (together with the
1er Crus of the neighboring Premeaux). They vary a lot in their characteristics and quality
depending on their location: north or south of town. There are only a few really good
Nuits. The best are Les St. Georges, Les Vaucarains, and Les Argillieres. Other very
good examples are Clos de la Marechale, Aux Boudots and Les Damodes. One should wait
at least ten years before approaching these wines.
Faiveley, Jayer-Gilles, Leroy, Meo Camuzet, D. Rion, Chevillon, J. Grivot, R. Arnoux.
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Jacob "Yak" Shaya.