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Bourgogne IV - from Côte de Beaune to Côte de Nuits - Aloxe - Corton/Charlemagne

Updated: Dec 4, 2020

The heat wave was still very intense when we drove from Beaune to Gevrey-Chambertin for an appointment with Domain Drouhin- Laroze.

Through the rue de gran Crus D974 we planned to be in Gevrey-Chambertin in 35 minutes. But as we drove through the end of the cote de Beaune we passed near Aloxe-Corton and we decided to stop to quickly visit the quaint medieval hamlet and possibly try some of its great wines ... after all we had plenty of time for our original appointment.


Linking the Côte de Nuits with the Côte de Beaune, the hill of Corton signals a change in the landscape. Towards Beaune the land becomes more rounded, its sharp contours yielding to gentle valleys. Like its neighbours Ladoix-Serrigny and Pernand-Vergelesses, Aloxe-Corton (pronounced "Alosse") enjoys a perfect wine-growing location and forms as it were a guard of honour on the approach to the" prestigious appellations Grands Crus Corton and Corton-Charlemagne. The Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée dates back to 1938.

The town has a population of 200 people. Of course 100% dedicated to their wine production.

Corton- Charlemagne is situated almost on the border between the Côte de Nuits and the Côte de Beaune, and at altitudes between 280 and 300 meters much of the CortonCharlemagne appellation faces south-west (which is uncommon in these parts). The Hill of Corton, high and rounded, has vineyards on three sides corresponding to the three villages of Aloxe-Corton (Climat: Le Charlemagne), Pernand-Vergelesses (Climat: En Charlemagne) and Ladoix-Serrigny {Climats: part or all of Pougets, Corton, Languettes).These vineyards were a gift of the Emperor Charlemagne to the religious community of Saint-Andoche de Saulieu in the year 775. It remained in their possession for a thousand years, and today still celebrates, at least in name, their illustrious benefactor. The appellation is made up of two Climats, Charlemagne and En Charlemagne, plus some neighbouring plots. Unlike the Corton appellation, the name of the Climat is not mentioned on the label. Its Grand Cru appellation dates from July 31, 1937.

The soil Of Alox-Corton.

A cross section of the Corton hill reveals a classic geological picture. At altitudes of between 200 and 300 metres, the soil is reddish brown with flint and limestone debris (known as "chaillots") mixed in, and is rich in potassium and phosphoric acid. The vines face due east Wines from the Northern end are more tender and fruity while those from the Southern end are firmer and more complex. Pebbly soil' favours supple, highty-bred wines, while clay and marl breeds firmness and complexity.

The Corton Charlemagne appellation occupies the highest portion of the Hill of Corton where the gradients are steep (20-23%). The hill itself offers an exemplary geological section through the younger (145 million years) Jurassic strata which lie between Ladoix-Serrigny and Meursault. The colour of the clayrich marly soils varies from yellow through ochre to brown. Limestone alternates with marls beneath a thin cover of rendzinas. At mid-slope the mainly red wines of the Corton appellation grow on soils appreciably different in character.

Appellation Village of the Côte de Beaune région (Côte-d'Or).

This appellation includes 14 Premiers Crus Climats.

Producing communes: Aloxe-Corton, Ladoix-Serrigny.

On the label, the appellation ALOXE-CORTON and ALOXE-CORTON PREMIER CRU may be followed by the name of a specific Climat.

The reds are quite dark in colour, their shades varying from deep ruby through crimson to garnet. While young, the wine's aroma suggests a spring garden with small red fruits (raspberry, strawberry) and black fruits (blackcurrant, blackberry). These intensify with age and evolve into peony and jasmine, preserved and brandied fruits, pistachio, prune, leather, truffle, mushroom and cinnamon.

The deep soil begets a vigorous, full-bodied Pinot Noir, robust yet refined. Tender and fruity, this wine reaches its peak after 3 to 5 years in the cellar, revealing a firm and well-built body, richly chewy and with pleasing tannìns.

Aloxe-Corton whites are very rare. However Corton- Charlemagne is right around the corner and its one of the white Gran Crus. We drove only few minutes up to the hill to find the iconic vineyards.

Appellation Grand Cru of the Côte de Beaune région (Côte-d'Or).

The production area of the CORTON-CHARLEMAGNE appellation includes the area of the CHARLEMAGNE appellation, which, however, is not currently in use.

Producing communes:

CORTON-CHARLEMAGNE : Aloxe-Corton, Ladoix-Semgny, PernandVergelesses.

CHARLEMAGNE: Aloxe-Corton, Pernand-Vergelesses.

Some of the parcels, depending on whether they are planted with Pinot Noir or Chardonnay grapes, may, at the grower's discretion, claim the appellation CORTON for red wines or CORTON-CHARLEMAGNE for whites. On the label, the words GRAND CRU must appear immediately below the name of the appellation.

The wines of Corton Charlemagne

When young, Corton-Charlemagne is pale gold in colour with green highlights. As it ages, the colour shifts towards yellow or amber. The bouquet, delicate in the extreme, features buttery notes of baked apple, citrus fruits, pineapple, lime, bracken, juniper, cinnamon, and flint. Honeyed notes are frequently present. The older vintages (25-30 years) reveal leather and truffles. Both the glass and the palate are filled with its powerful exhalations. CortonChariemagne is an astonishing demonstration of what the Chardonnay grape is capable of in terms of richness, power, concentration, distinction and balance. Rarely do we see such a perfect synthesis between grape variety and terroir.

As we finally tasted the unbelievable nectar of the Alox- Corton wines we drove around the appellation for a few minutes, enjoying the views of the famous vineyards from the top of the hill where Charlemagne vineyard was located. People were working on the fields with the vines already in full bloom, we realized that our appointment in Gevrey-Chambertin was only in 20 minutes so we went back on D 974. This to the next blog when we will dive in the most iconic appellation of Côte se Nuit.

Follow is always on the wine voyager.


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