Wine writing

30 Best Vineyards of Red Burgundy

I recently published 10 Best Villages of Red Burgundy and invited wine experts, industry professionals, wine enthusiasts and just newbies to discuss my research. During the first week, 3,000 people read the article and 150 shared the feedback.

Professionals and experts criticized the very fact of ranking villages. They claim Burgundy being quite a complex region for such a superficial view and it is contraindicated to any kind of measures and ranks.

Wine enthusiasts viewed the study positively. Joyfully shared personal preferences and called favorite villages. They were happy to discuss stylistic differences.

Many newbies gratefully accepted the research as they once lacked landmarks when studying the Burgundy and needed structure to understand the wines of the region and systematize knowledge about them. Burgundy wines are expensive and no one wants to learn the hard way.

I am driven by strong desire of curiosity and strive to find answers to my own questions. These questions are in tune with many readers. Your constructive criticism and kind words inspire me to continue.

Over the decades Burgundy formed and successfully maintained the image of a mystical, inaccessible, incredibly complex region. My goal is not to scare away from Burgundy, but rather invite to study it together.

The result of my work is not dogma or truth in last resort. This is just a point of view on the region, on the current trends. The resulting picture is not static and will change over time. There are a lot of factors that influence and shape new trends, just to name a few:

  • New winemakers
  • Global warming and its impact on specific vineyards/terroir
  • New techniques and approaches to viticulture and vineyard management
  • Land value with vineyards
  • Changing the taste preferences of end consumers.

This research reflects the opinion of the leading experts of the region.

Try to see the trees behind the branches and the forest behind the trees.

I am ready for this research to be questioned. But YOUR answers to these questions are more important. I invite you to the discussion.

Just before I start, I want to share some curious observations and conclusions from the results of communication with readers.

I asked the readers: “Name your Top 3 villages of Red Burgundy.” I got answers from 70 people. Among them were professionals, connoisseurs and experts, newbies.

The “big three” of my research completely coincided with the opinion of readers and by a large margin ahead of all other villages. So did the last 3 places of my chart. Opinions differed slightly in the definition of places from 4 to 7. Volnay and Morey Saint Denis were rated higher than Nuits-Saint-George and Pommard.

My study is based on tens of thousands of wine critics reviews and scores, but the main conclusions are confirmed even on a small sample of readers.

What do these results tell you? What do they testify to?
I believe it reflects the reputation and general interest in the wines of the respective appellation.

Can we influence these results in the future?
Definitely YES! Show your interest in different appellations, attract the attention of wine professionals, engage them in discussion and the exchange of views. This way we’ll increase the number of pro reviews and thus the data for further analysis.

In the second part of the research you are now reading, I focused on the Grand Crus and how some of the Premier Crus relate to them.

Grand Cru sites in Burgundy have their own separate appellations. At the same time, we know specific sites of Premier Crus in the communal appellations, which high reputation is comparable with Grand Cru. Some of them have even been nominated for Grand Cru status and currently wait for the INAO decision.


So, here’s a chart with the results of the study:

Classification of Grand Cru and Premier Cru sites of Côte-de-Nuits
Classification of Grand Cru and Premier Cru sites of Côte-de-Nuits

As a result of the study, several groups are clearly singled out.

I propose to consider these groups separately, and the climats within the group, as equal. Similar to the 1855 classification in Bordeaux. Thus, we form 4 categories or classes of climats.

  • Supreme category. The “Big Three” of the Grand Crus of Red Burgundy is Romanée-Conti, La Tâche (both are Monopoles of the Domaine de la Romanée-Conti) and Chambertin.
  • The First Growth of 10 sites, including 1 Premier Cru and the rest are Grand Crus.
  • The Second Growth is also 10 sites which scores are inferior to the First Growth, but not so different within the group itself.
  • The remaining 8 sites, including 3 Premier and 5 Grand Crus, close the rankings and make up the Third Growth.


Below are the profiles of the vineyards in the same order as in the chart. Background information, soil characteristics, historical data, wine style and recommendations of the best producers.

Romanée-Conti

The vineyard area is 1.77 hectares. The site consists of 1 lieu-dit La Romanée-Conti

This vineyard was named after Prince Conti, who acquired it in 1760 and gave it his heart. Romanée-Conti is one of the wonders of the world and has always remained in the possession of one owner, i.e. has always been a monopoly. True, the owners of the vineyard throughout its history were different. It is now owned by Domaine de la Romanée-Conti.

Romanée-Conti is located on brown limestone soils. The soil is a fine-grained sand-clay mixture with a low sand content, brown in color and mixed with pebbles and limestone. In most of the vineyard, this mixture is based on the limestone soil of the Bathonian period (166–168 million years). In the lower part there is a mergel formed by deposits of small fossilized oysters (marnes à ostrea acuminate). The depth of the topsoil barely reaches 50 centimeters before bumping into a bare rock.

Since 1985, the vineyard has been cultivated according to the principles of biodynamics.
Wine has long topped the ranking of the most expensive wines in the world (average market value of 18,000 euros per bottle)

The gold standard of Pinot Noir.

La Tâche


The vineyard area is 5.08 hectares. The site consists of two lieux-dita: La Tâche and Les Gaudichots.

The vineyard is located south of Romanée-Conti and La Romanée and runs parallel to these two sites, separated only by the newest Grand Cru La Grande Rue.

Located at an altitude of 255 to 300 meters above sea level, steeper at the top, more even at the bottom, but nevertheless with good drainage. Includes a number of different soil structures: the decomposed limestone of the lower Bathonian period at the top, thinly covered with pebbles and limestone fragments. A deeper layer of clay soil is down the slope, partially mixed with fossilized oyster deposits.

The name Tâche (from Lat. Taxa — payment, payment for work) dates back to the 11th century, when the farmer was obliged to pay tax to the landowner on the profits received from this site. Tâcheron in French is an employee who receives a flat fee for caring for the vines entrusted to him.

The wine of La Tâche is the same classic, but if Romanée-Conti is a silk, it is a velvet.
Like two relatives of Lafite and Mouton Rothschild of Bordeaux.

The average market value is 4,300 euros per bottle.

Chambertin

Chambertin Grand Cru map and vineyard owners
Chambertin Grand Cru map and vineyard owners

The vineyard area is 13.62 hectares. The site consists of 1 lieu-dit Chambertin

Chambertin is located above the Grand Cru route, between Latricières and Clos de Bèze, hidden near Montagne de la Comb Grisar, at an altitude of between 275 and 300 meters.
The soil is the limestone of the Bathonian period. In some places, especially in the southern and upper part of the slope, vines grow on white slabs (marnes blanch). Elsewhere, the ground is brown and mixed with clay and pebbles. The proportion of fine earth to rocks and pebbles (68% to 32%) identical to Montrachet.

At the top of Chambertin there is a small strip next to the forest. There are branches hanging over the upper rows of vineyards and drop a shadow. Trees are not cut down, because they are believed to protect against hail. Grapes on the southern sides of the slope are usually harvested a little later because of the cool breeze from Combe de Grisar.

The history of the name Chambertin goes into folklore. Allegedly the owner of this land by the name of Bertin decided to change crops on his field (Fr. Champ) from cereals to vines, had been inspired with a success of monks and high quality of their wines from the nearby, already known at that time, the Clos de Beze site.

Chambertin’s style is characterized by most pronounced tannins among the “Big Three” wines. Chambertins in youth are quite austere and firm, structured and fleshy. Taste of black fruits, liquorice and coffee beans. Mature Chambertins become softer and melt, turning into something rich, concentrated, generous and warm-hearted. The best wines sometimes need at least a decade to become softer.

Among the best producers: Leroy, Armand Rousseau, Perrot-Minot, Dugat-Py, Denis Mortet, Olivier Bernstein, Trapet, Dujac.

The “Big Three” of the Supreme Category of Grand Cru sites is followed by the First Growths of 10 Vineyards, of which there is one Premier Cru. Each of these sites is beautiful and unique in its own way. Despite the microscopic differences in the values of the rating, I propose to consider them all as equals.

However, the first among the equals is Musigny.

Musigny

Musigny Grand Cru map
Musigny Grand Cru map

The vineyard area is 10.11 hectares (Pinot Noir) and 0.66 hectares (Chardonnay). The site consists of 3 lieux-dits: La Combe d’Orveau, Les Musigny and Les Petits Musigny.

Le Musigny is one of the greatest sites throughout the Cote d’Or. The vineyard has always consisted of two sections, separated by a road. The northern part, a little bigger, is Les Musigny. Southern, in the plural, is Les Petits Musigny, wholly owned by Comtes Georges de Vogue. By the way, they also own the lion’s share of Les Musigny. A small piece of La Combe d’Orveau was annexed in 1929, and then slightly further expanded in 1989. The whole belongs to Jacques Prieur.

Musigny is located at an altitude of 260 to 300 meters, tilting from 8 to 14 degrees.

The upper part is on porous oolith limestone, while the lower part is on the harder marble Comblanchien, where the water must find its way through the cracks in the rock. From above, the clay-rich soil is full of small stones, which also contributes to drainage. There is more clay in the soil, with less active chalk and magnesium, than other Grand Crus. At the bottom of the rows the soil is noticeably red. The whitish mergel is located at the top, where Domaine de Vogue chose to plant its Chardonnay on a parcel of 2/3 hectare. In 1999, young vines were planted on this site and until 2014 the wine was sold as Bourgogne Blanc. Now that the winemaker believes that the vines have reached the right age, the wine has become in line with its Grand Cru status. This is the only Grand Cru, with the exception of Corton, which can be both white and red.

Musigny was joined by the phrase “iron fist in a velvet glove.” The style of the best Musigny wines can be described in bright color, exquisitely harmonious, complex, deep bouquet, blissful balance between tannins, acidity and intense aroma of a variety of red berries. Incomparable breed, depth, originality and purity at the finish.

Among the best producers: Leroy, Georges and Christophe Roumier, Jacques-Frederic Mugnier, Vougeraie, Comte Georges de Vogue.

What is the cost to expect when choosing a quality Musigny? Answer: 1000 euros.

La Romanée

La Romanée Grand Cru map
La Romanée Grand Cru map

The vineyard area is 0.85 hectares. The site consists of 1 lie di La Romane

The smallest appellation in France! It is located up the hill directly above the Romanée-Conti and is separated from it by a small path.

Altitude swayed from 275 to 300 meters, and a slope of 12 degrees. Further up the hill is Premier Cru Aux Reignots.

The structure of the soil is similar to the eminent neighbor, but the depth of the topsoil is much smaller.

La Romanée is a Monopoly Domaine Du Comte Liger Belair. The site has been owned by the family since the early 19th century. However, until 2002, the vineyard was managed by Domaine Forey. They were also responsible for the vinification. After malolactic-lactic fermentation, the wine was transferred to Bouchard Pere and Fils for the elevage and bottled under their label. Since 2002, Liger Belair has regained full control over the vineyard and the entiere winemaking process. Since 2005 the wine has been produced under their label.

The style of wine is similar in aroma to Romanée-Conti, but it had neither the aristocratic intensity of Romanée-Conti, nor the sumptuousness of Richebourg. A rather austere wine in youth, and always feel a lot of potential, even when it is fully mature. Since 2002, La Romane has become more aristocratic.

Average market value: 4,700 euros.

Chambertin-Clos de Bèze

Gevrey-Chambertin Grand Crus map
Gevrey-Chambertin Grand Crus map

The vineyard area is 14.67 hectares. The site consists of 1 lieu-dit Clos de Bèze

Together with Chambertin, Clos de Bèze forms a rectangle of more than 28 hectares. Located on one slab of the Bathonian period. Unlike Chambertin, the slope at Clos de Bèze is steeper. In the upper layer of soil this site has a little more small stones. In wetter years, wines from this site can produce better results due to better drainage and the soil dries up a little faster. The main differences are the deeper topsoil, in some places the rock protrudes to the surface, and the absence of marnes blanches.

Chronologically, the history of Clos de Bèze begins much earlier and dates back to the beginning of the 7th century, when the vineyards were transferred to the property of the monastery of Bèze, located north of Dijon.

Despite the larger size of the site than Chambertin, the number of owners here is smaller.

Stylistically, Clos de Bèze differs from that of Chambertin and is more complex, more classic and delicate.

Among the best producers: Armand Rousseau, Faiveley, Perrot-Minot, Olivier Bernstein, Louis Jadot, Lucien Le Moine, Robert Groffier, Bruno Clair, Ponsot, Duroche.

Bonnes-Mares

Bonnes-Mares Grand Cru map
Bonnes-Mares Grand Cru map

The vineyard area is 14.72 hectares. The site consists of 1 lieu-dit Bonnes-Mares

One and a half hectares of the vineyard are located in the village of Morey-St.-Denis, and the main part in Chambolle-Musigny. A diagonal line runs through the vineyard, which divides it into two parts. The lower part, conventionally terres rouges, with a large content of clay, brown hue. Upper, large in area — terres blanches, rich in white marble and shell.

The Style of Bonnes-Mares wines is hardly Chambolle-Musigny. The texture is velvety, not silky lace. The wine is full-bodied, firm, needs time. There is depth and richness, but lacks nuance and sometimes breed. The power of tannins can sometimes be too much.

Wines of terres rouges are more powerful. Dense and angular. The wines of terres blanche are softer.

Some winemakers own plots in both parts, such as Rumier. By the way, they vinify these wines separately and make the assemblage after a year of aging. The result is superior than each of the wines individually.

Among the best producers: Leroy Domaine d’Auvenay, Georges and Christophe Roumier, Lucien Le Moine, Dujac, Vougeraie, Comte Georges de Vogue, Robert Groffier, Louis Jadot, Arlaud.

Romanée Saint-Vivant

Romanée Saint-Vivant Grand Cru map and vineyards owners
Romanée Saint-Vivant Grand Cru map and vineyards owners

The vineyard area is 8.37 hectares. The site consists of 1 lieu-dit Romanée Saint-Vivant

The slope here is flat, the altitude is between 265 and 250 meters and the exposition is to the east. The soil is heavier than up the slope in Richebourg and Romanée-Conti, and there is more of it (up to 90 cm deep): a brown clay-limestone mixture with pebbles based on Bathonian mergel.

Romanée-Saint-Vivan is the lightest, most gentle and most feminine of the Grand Crus of Vosne-Romanée. There are similarities with Musigny. At its best, it is an exquisite perfumed wine, silkier than the velvet Richebourg, but no less rich and beautiful.

Among the best producers: Leroy, Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, Alain Hudelot-Noellat, Dujac, Sylvain Cathiard, Arnoux-Lachaux.

Clos de Tart

Clos de Tart Grand Cru map and soil types
Clos de Tart Grand Cru map and soil types

The vineyard area is 7.31 hectares. The site consists of 2 lieux-dits: Clos de Tart, Les Bonnes Mares

The vineyard is located 270 m above sea level on the border of the village Morey-St.-Denis. The “village” vineyards of Morey are adjacent to the site, at an altitude of about 300 meters — there is no intermediate Premier Cru. It’s a real “clos” being completely within the old wall. The land is rocky with a limestone base, the clay content in the vineyard increases as you descend down the hill — the color of the earth is much lighter up the hill. In the upper third of the vineyard it is quite steep — a slope of almost 20%. Unlike neighboring vineyards, vines are planted in the north-south direction, this orientation is great for slowing erosion, which clogs the soil at the bottom of the slope, but requires modification of the tractor — otherwise it can tip over. Planting from north to south provides the sun on one side of the vine in the morning, and on the other hand — in the afternoon, and allows you to get very ripe grapes.

The vineyard has long time adopted the principles of organic farming, and from 2019 is officially certified biodynamic.

Curiously, grapes from soils of different types are vinified separately. The main wine of Grand Cru is always a blend of the best wines. Unused wines are declassified to Morey-St-Denis 1er Cru La Forge du Tart, in the manner of a second wine in Bordeaux estates.

Clos de Tart (Monopole Domaine du Clos de Tart) was sold to Artemis Group, a holding entity owned by the owner of Chateau Latour, Francois Pinault. By the way, Pinault already owns d’Eugenie in Vosne-Romanée and seems to continue to expand his wine business.

The transaction amounted to €200 million, which is twice as much as previously paid for the neighbor in the village Morey St. Denis, Grand Cru Clos des Lambrays.

Recall that the lucky owner of Clos des Lambrays is now LVMH

Richebourg

Richebourg Grand Cru map and vineyard owners
Richebourg Grand Cru map and vineyard owners

The vineyard area is 7.68 hectares. The site consists of 2 lieux-dits: Les Richebourgs, Les Verroilles

Richebourg is located just north of La Romanée and Romanée-Conti and towers over Romanée-Saint-Vivant. While Romanée-Conti is deployed to the east, Richebourg deviates slightly to the north, at its top.

Height between 280 and 260 meters above sea level, the slope is the same as that of Romanée-Conti, as well as the structure of the soil, pebble-clay-sand mixture with low sand content, mixed with limestone fragments, lying on the pink rocks of the Premoux lower Bathonian period. The layer of soil to the foot of the slope becomes deeper and can reach 1.50 meters.

Richebourg, for most connoisseurs, is the best of the non-monopole vineyards of Vosne. It is fuller, more lush, richer, more intense and more generous, but at the same time more masculine than, for example, Romanée-Saint-Vivant. At its best, it showcases a real burst of flavors: coffee and chocolate when young, violets when mature, all in the velvet texture of an abundance of black and red berries.

Today, the vineyard has 11 domain owners, the largest of which is DRC (3.51 hectares). Wines produced by negociants are much less common.

Among the best producers: Leroy, Jean Grivot, DRC, Alain Hudelot-Noellat, Meo-Camuzet, Thibault Liger-Belair, Anne Gros, A.F. Gros.

Clos de la Roche

Clos de la Roche Grand Cru map and lieux-dits
Clos de la Roche Grand Cru map and lieux-dits

The vineyard area is 16.84 hectares. The plot consists of 8 lieux-dits: (1) Clos de la Roche, (2) Les Chabiots, (3) Les Fremieres, (4) Les Froichots, (5) Les Mochamps, (6) Monts Luisants, (7) Les Genevrieres, (8)

Clos de la Roche originally covered only 4.57 hectares. For a little over a century, up to 1971, neighboring areas were attached to it and today the vineyard is located on 8 lieux-dits with total area of 16.84 hectares.

The whole of Grand Cru is relatively homogeneous in geology and exposure from north to south, and at the top of the slope are the Premoux limestone outlets, which bring limestone to the marble soils further down: at the bottom of the slope the vines sit on the more solid rhinoid limestone.

The top layer of soil is less than half a meter, the rock is located here close to the surface, which makes the vineyard difficult for farming.

The cooling airflow created by Combe de Grisar, a gap in the hills separating Clos de la Roche and Latricières-Chambertin, means that the Clos de la Roche part of the Monts Luisants matures a little slower than the rest of The Grand Cru.

The style is distinguished by a lush structure. It has neither the rigor of Chambertin nor the muscularity of Bonnes-Mares. The fruit has an element of exotic, with a magnificent seductive aroma of blueberries, cranberries, sometimes black cherries, violets or truffles. Luxury and chic.

Among the best producers: Leroy, Ponsot, Dujac, Hubert Lignier, Armand Rousseau, Arlaud, Francois Feuillet, Lucien Le Moine, Benjamin Leroux, Olivier Bernstein, Louis Jadot, Lecheneaut.

Mazis-Chambertin

Mazis-Chambertin Grand Cru map
Mazis-Chambertin Grand Cru map

The vineyard area is 8.27 hectares. The site consists of 2 lieux-dits: Les Mazis-Bas, Les Mazis-Haut

Mazis-Chambertin (sometimes spelled Mazy) is located under the Ruchottes, between Clos de Bèze and the village of Gevrey, above the Route des Grands Crus, and is divided into Mazis-Haut and Mazis-Bas. Since 1855, it has absorbed part of Le Corbo, increasing its area by about 0.60 hectares.

Mazis-Bas has a slightly deeper soil. The soil is mostly brown with a small number of stones. The underlying rock is a slab with cracks through which roots can penetrate. Mazis-Haut topsoil is noticeably smaller and more similar to Ruchottes-Chambertin.

The nature of the wines is wilder, the structure is more firm. Tannins are noticeable, notes of leather, liquorice, menthol. Aromatics are complex.

Among the best producers: Leroy Domaine d’Auvenay, Dugat-Py, Olivier Bernstein, Lucien Le Moine, Armand Rousseau, Faiveley, Denis Mortet, Confuron-Cotetidot, Harmand-Geoffroy, Perrot-Minot, Leroy, Maume by Domaine Tawse.

Cros Parantoux 1er Cru, Vosne-Romanee

Cros Parantoux 1er Cru, Vosne-Romanee map
Cros Parantoux 1er Cru, Vosne-Romanee map

The vineyard area is 1.01 hectares. The site consists of 1 lieu-dit Cros Parentoux

This little Premier cru is located above Richebourg and side by side with that part of Richebourg known as Les Véroilles. During the war, the vineyard was replanted by the great Henri Jayer. He owned most of it (0.72 hectares). The rest belongs to Meo-Camuzet, the house with which he had a share cropping agreement with (rent farming, when part of the crop is given to the owner as payment).

Now Henri Jayer’s vines have been inherited by his heir and nephew, Emmanuel Rouget.
This wine level is among the best of Grand Crus: full-bodied, powerful, rich, with notes of oak and superbly concentrated. Essence of wine: hard and mineral in youth and velvety-soft and exotic in maturity.

Among the best producers: Emmanuel Rouget, Meo-Camuzet, Henri Jayer.


In the following parts we will talk about the remaining categories of red Grand Cru Burgundy.

Reference

  • ‘Inside Burgundy’ — Jasper Morris MW
  • ‘The Climats and Lieux-dits of the Great Vineyards of Burgundy’ — Marie-Helene Landrieu-Lussigny, Sylvain Pitiot.
  • ‘The Wines of Burgundy’ — Clive Coates MW
  • ‘My Favourite Burgundies’ — Clive Coates MW
  • ‘Great Domaines of Burgundy’ — Remington Norman, Charles Taylor MW
  • burgundy-report.com by Bill Nanson
  • wine-searcher.com
  • burghound.com by Allen Meadows
  • winehog.org by Steen Ohman
  • Feng Tao maps
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