The Côte de Nuits forms the northern half of the Côte d’Or, running from the outskirts of Dijon, through seven famous communes,
to the villages of Prémeaux and Corgoloin, south of Nuits-Saint-Georges.
The region is around 20 kilometres long and between 200 and 800 metres wide. It covers 3,600 hectares. Driving south from Dijon, looking to the right,
you will see slopes adorned with vineyards, broken up periodically by barren, rocky outcrops and, at its southern end, limestone quarries.
The Côte de Nuits, with few exceptions, is red wine country. It is, quite simply, home to some of the greatest Pinot Noirs in the world.
The Chéron and Hammel families were joint owners of Domaine des Varoilles, in Gevrey-Chambertin.
In July 2020, following the retirement of Gilbert Hammel, the majority of the Domaine des Varoilles holdings was absorbed into Philippe Chéron’s Domaine du Couvent. The wines are therefore now labelled as Domaine du Couvent.
In October 2021, we met Philippe Chéron for the first time in his cellars in the centre of Nuits-Saint-Georges. Tall and rangy in workman’s overalls, with a dry sense of humour and an obvious love of wine, we liked him immediately. He told us that his father had worked in the Varoilles vines since the 1970s, so there is clearly good knowledge of the terroirs within the familys.
After Vougeot, Morey-Saint-Denis is the smallest village of the Côte de Nuits, with just 150 hectares of vines. Perhaps less well known than its neighbours, Gevrey-Chambertin to the north and Chambolle-Musigny to the south, it displays some of the power of Gevrey, as well as a kinship with Bonnes-Mares, which starts just beyond the southern wall of Clos de Tart.
The grands crus here are Clos des Lambrays, Clos de la Roche, Clos Saint-Denis and Clos de Tart. The abundance of walled vineyards echoes the self-contained nature of this alluring but enigmatic village.
With its six grands crus, plus the Échezeaux vineyards in the neighbouring commune of Flagey-Échezeaux, Vosne-Romanée could reasonably claim to be the apogee of the Côte de Nuits (not that it would dream of doing something so tactless). Aside from a gently salubrious air, there is little in the understated village square to give away the vinous greatness of the slopes beyond.
La Romanée-Conti is the bull’s-eye, surrounded by a cluster of famous grands crus, including La Tâche, Les Gaudichots, La Grande Rue, La Romanée, Les Richebourgs and Romanée-Saint-Vivant. To the north lies Flagey-Échezeaux and beyond it, the Clos de Vougeot.
Nuits-Saint-Georges is the most southerly of the famous Côte de Nuits appellations. As is the way in Burgundy, the town of Nuits appended the name of the best-known local vineyard, the premier cru Les Saint-Georges. Being the region’s largest urban centre, it is also the town from which the Côte de Nuits takes its name.
Nuits-Saint-Georges has extremely varied soils and aspects, comprising a substantial 300 hectares of vines, 142 of which are premiers crus. This is an appellation without grands crus, perhaps surprisingly. Known for red wines, there are in fact seven hectares dedicated to white wine production.