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The Story

The Hill of Corton lies in the midst of a cluster of famous wine-growing villages - Ladoix- Serrigny, Aloxe-Corton, Pernand-Vergelesses and Savigny-lès-Beaune - with, to the north, the southern end of the Côte de Nuits where vineyards mingle with stone quarries (Comblanchien limestone). The vineyards lie at heights of 250-330 metres and form a kind of amphitheatre not found elsewhere in the Côte. The Hill of Corton produces white Corton-Charlemagne and (mainly) red Corton, described by Camille Rodier as " le roi des bons-vivants " (or " the king of the bon vivants "). Corton Grand Cru received its AOC status on 31 July, 1937. A small quantity of white wine is grown but only the reds have the right to add the name of their " Climat " to that of the appellation.

Exposure is south-east/south-west (not an arrangement frequently found in the Côte). The hillside offers a text-book cut-away illustration of the local geology. The Oxfordian Jurassic limestone lying between Ladoix and Meursault is younger (145 million years) here than elsewhere along the Côte. At mid-slope the gradient is gentle and the soil reddish and pebbly, derived from brown limestone and rich deposits of marl with a high potassium content. The Pinot Noir grape is pampered here. The Chardonnay grape (which gives us the Corton-Charlemagne) occupies the top of the slope. 


The extensive area covered by this Grand Cru and the large number of different " Climats " (named plots) it contains explain the observable differences in character among the wines grown here. The rare whites (grown mainly in the Climats of Vergennes and Languettes) have a keeping potential of 4-10 years. Colour: pale gold with green highlights. Mineral aromas (flint) blend with butter, baked apple, bracken, cinnamon and honey. Elegant and highly-bred, supple and well rounded, this unusual Chardonnay has much in common with Corton-Charlemagne. The Corton reds are an intense velvety crimson, darkening towards magenta. Their generous aromatic expression is of fruit notes (blueberry, gooseberry, kirsch cherry) or flowers (violet),evolving towards underbrush, animal, leather, fur, pepper and liquorice. On the palate this wine is well-built, powerful and muscular and the chewy body comes to the fore.Firm, frank and fat, it requires time (4-12 years) to reach its peak.

Red: solid and opulent, Corton is a Burgundy's iconic - highly complex, impressively mouth-filling in a way that is at once sensual and structured. For this reason, strong soft-centred cheeses and blue cheeses are needed to tame it. But, without question, its closest companions are highly-flavoured meats that match its powerful flavours and intense aromas. Indeed this wine is sublime with roast or grilled beef, or any and all game (furred or feathered) roasted, braised or - naturally - in sauce.Serving temperature: 14 to 16 °C

White: white Corton is a natural match for shellfish, fish, poultry in cream sauce, and goat's cheese.
Serving temperature: 12 to 14 °C


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Written Notes

So there I was, in balmy weather at the end of August on the shores of Lake Erie, facing four vintages – 2005, 2002, 1999, and 1996 – of the best that Jean-Francois Coche-Dury and his son Raphael have to offer. They own 34 ares, enough for five casks in a normal vintage, and the vines could not be better placed. By the time the wine emerges from the pipe-line at the retail level it is frighteningly high priced, and you may be tempted into wondering whether it is worth it.

On the basis of my recent experience, the answer is yes. The 2005 is an infant. Leave it alone until 2020 or later. The 2002 I adore. What concentration! What energy! Again is still needs to be held. The 1999 approaches its zenith; ample, succulent, surprisingly youthful for a wine of 15 years age, and showing absolutely no trace of the high volumes produced in this vintage (though not by the Messrs Coche, I'm sure). Finally the 1996. Here we can appreciate a fully mature wine, with a richness and a depth of impressive proportions.

In all, a privilege. Long live great wine and the chance to enjoy them in the company of good friends and fine food.



Beaune, Burgundy

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