France: Burgundy

Côte de Beaune

Wines from the southern part of the Côte d'Or
By Russell Hone and Jean-Pierre Renard

This Guide was last updated on 27 April 2011
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Main wine styles


The red wines from the Côte de Beaune are often snubbed by drinkers in favour of the Côte de Nuits but the finest from Aloxe-Corton, Pommard, and Volnay, can rival them for concentration, power, and elegance. As for longevity, they can be aged for just as long. Sampled in 2008, a 1864 Pommard Clos des Epeneaux was still in fine condition. The wines are matured in oak barrel of 228 litres (called fûts in Burgundy) and are usually bottled after 12 to 20 months. It is up to the producer as to what proportion of new barrels he or she uses. Most vintages can be drunk from five to fifteen years but nothing should stop you from enjoying them younger or older.


It could be said that the vineyard of Le Montrachet is the greatest in the world and that Le Montrachet produces the best dry white wine in the world; it is certainly true that many winemakers worldwide want to emulate it. When allowed to age, Le Montrachet shows amazing complexity of honeyed, toasty, richness of fruit, is totally dry and a magnificent wine. It is this style that is the benchmark for the whites of the Côte de Beaune but with subtle differences according to the particular vineyards, their soils and their aspects. Nearly all are fermented and aged in oak, with malolactic fermentation usually in the barrel. New oak is sometimes used by the best producers for Grands Crus and some Premiers Crus.


There is very little rosé and it is made by the saigné method – drawing off some of the juice of fermenting red wine which, in turn, helps concentrate the red’s colour. The rosés are normally dry and light.

Sparkling Wines

Little sparkling wine is made in the Côte de Beaune. The white Crémants de Bourgogne vary from dry and light to occasionally full and rich in flavour. They are made predominantly from Chardonnay base wines, but Pinot Noir may be used too. Pinot Noir is used for rosé sparkling wines. They can offer value for money and are worth seeking out.

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