The Great Domaines of Burgundy leads off by noting that geographically the Cote d’Or is subdivided into some 25 different villages or communes, in effect, small parishes. Those comprising the northerly sector (about 10 miles), from Marsannay to Corgoloin, are collectively known as the Cote de Nuits. Surrounding each village is an area of vineyard, which is relatively small and heavily divided into individually named sites. For example, clos (a walled vineyard) de Vought has some 82 individual owners.
“The vineyards themselves differ significantly in quality potential, a fact reflected in the Appellation Controlee system, which grades each vineyard into one of four catagories: in ascending order,” Regional (labels will simply read Borgone), Village (by example Gevrey Chambertin), Premier Cru and Grand Cru. Unlike, by example, California wines, you will find no mention of the variety of grape such as Pinot Noir, the thin-skinned, fragile and capricious grape from which all red Burgundy is made.
Debbie and I have biked, walked or driven by car through all of the tiny wine villages of the Cote de Nuits and will return this fall for another “on the ground” research trip. After many years, visits and hundreds of hours of reading, as well as a not insignificant amount of tasting, I now consider myself to have risen to the level of perhaps a sixth grade education in the understanding of the complexities of French red Burgundy from the Cote de Nuits. The word complex is an understatement in the realm of understanding French Burgundy. In that my interest is primarily red and not Burgundy’s world class white wine made from Chardonnay grapes, I have spent somewhat less time in the southern half of the Cote de Or, the Cote de Beaune.
From the dozen or so little wine communes in the Cote de Nuits, I have narrowed my focus to seven villages. In order of importance, my list includes Vosne-Romanee, Flagey-Echezeaux, Chambolle-Musigny, Morey-St. Denis, Gevrey-Chambertin, Fixin, and Marsannay (coincidentally listed from south to north).
To get started with a first class initial understanding of the renowned red Burgundy of the Cote de Nuits, I would concentrate on not only these seven communes, but also wines imported by Kermitt Lynch, Rosenthal or The Sorting Table. There are other excellent importers, but my long experience with these three allows me comfort in advising each for you.
As for a retailer for “in shop buying” or UPS delivery, I rely on my friends Jacques Cariot and his well-informed sons Clement and Kevin at Blue Provence in Naples, Florida, and Maria Chiancola and her first rate team at Newport Wine Cellar, Newport, RI.
There are far too many Cote de Nuits growers for me to even touch the surface in terms of broad-based initial recommendations for you, but here is a handful of names that I seek out with devotion. The list includes Harmand-Geoffroy, Armand Rousseau, Arlaud, Dujac, Ponsot, Georges Roumier, Ghislaine Barthod, Comte Georges de Vogue, Anne Gros, Michel Gros, Liger-Belair, Leroy, Meo-Camuzet, Georges Mugneret-Gibourg, and Bruno Clair.