France: Burgundy

Côte de Nuits

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

This Guide was last updated on 26 April 2011
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Main wine styles


Renowned for its red wines, the Côte de Nuits can be said to be the home of Pinot Noir. The wines are some of the richest and best structured of Burgundy showing finesse and concentration - when young many of the fine reds can be robust, vegetal and unyielding. But given some age, they become rich, concentrated and full-bodied with a velvety texture. Reds are usually matured in small barrels known generally in Burgundy as fûts (228l as opposed to 225l in Bordeaux) for 9-24 months, with age of barrels varying considerably according to producer. They are amongst the most longest-lived of Pinot Noir wines, ageing in a good year for 10-20 years or more.


Although the Côte de Nuits is best known for its red wines, the whites made here are fine. They are almost always fermented in oak (only a small percentage of new oak), undergo malolactic fermentation and then barrel ageing which adds to the complexity and ageing potential, They can be spicy, fat and rich and develop well for 5-10 years or more.


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. Burgundy rosés are normally dry and light with the exception of Marsannay, which is renowned for being a fuller-bodied dry rosé with some ageing potential.

Sparkling Wines

Little sparkling wine is made in the Côte de Nuits. 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.

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