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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.
White: white Corton is a natural match for shellfish, fish, poultry in cream sauce, and goat's cheese.
Serving temperature: 12 to 14 °C
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
Burgundy 2018: An ideal vintage
The 2018 vintage was met with a unanimous show of satisfaction from the north of Bourgogne to the south. The exceptional weather, especially during the harvest period, resulted in grapes with perfect health, allowing picking to extend over almost a whole month. Initial tastings ahead of the Hospices de Beaune Wine Auction have given an early idea that 2018 will be a truly great year.
The vines had built up some reserves over winter thanks to some very rainy weather, and the growth cycle began on the late side. When the sun started to show in April, the vines sprang into life, with budburst taking place very rapidly. The mild weather then allowed the plants to make up for lost time, even getting ahead of the average. Frosts in April sent a shudder across the whole region, but damage remained very limited. Flowering and fruit setting took place without hindrance.
Summer saw constant heat and drought, apart from a few hail storms in early July that were of no great consequence. The vines continued to grow at a fast pace until mid-August. Veraison took a little longer in places, the heat and lack of water affecting some of the younger vineyards. Nonetheless, since the hydric reserves had been restocked over winter, most of the vines came to maturity nicely thanks to the ideal weather conditions.
The first grapes were picked in the last 10 days of August. Since the dates of flowering, the rainfall and temperature varied greatly from one area to another, harvesting extended into the last 10 days of September.
The fruit was in extraordinarily good health, and the weather was perfect, allowing each winemaker to harvest at the optimum moment. The mood was serene across the whole wine region, producers enjoying this magnificent vintage that combined quality and quantity. Many think this will be one of the best vintages in many years.
Vinification of the whites went without a problem, the grapes having retained a good level of acidity despite the heat.
The reds required a little more attention during vinification due to the relatively high level of potential alcohol.
In 2018, the aromatic complexity of the white wines is incredible. They are explosive on the nose, with an amazing diversity that reflects each terroir. The wines have a certain crispness and good minerality. In the mouth, they are rounded and generous, balanced with a nice tension.
The 2018 reds have a seductive intense color. They are already well structured and powerful, with nicely- integrated tannins and good concentration of fruit. These exceptional wines are perfectly balanced, and are already tasting well in their first flush of youth.
This is a delicious vintage with splendid maturity.
Crémant de Bourgogne
This is a benchmark year, with expressive aromas that vary from one varietal to another, promising balanced and aromatic base wines. The Pinot Noirs are generous, with notes of cherry and rose, resulting in balanced wines with a pleasant freshness. The Chardonnays are powerful, with moderate acidity, making them well- rounded. The fruit aromas reveal some exotic notes, nuanced by fragrances of apple and peach. The Gamays have delicate aromas of raspberry and strawberry, underscored by citrus touches (clementine, lemon). The Aligotés are sharp and lemony, as usual, with good length in the mouth.