The Côte de Nuits is the northern half of the Côte d’Or , running from the southern outskirts of Dijon, through Prémeaux and Corgoloin south of Nuits-Saint-Georges. This, with very few exceptions, is red wine country with the best producers creating long-lived, very fine and seductive Burgundy.
The Côte de Nuits is a strip of land comprising some 1,200 hectares spread over seven communes and fifteen miles: Fixin, Gevrey-Chambertin, Morey-Saint-Denis, Chambolle-Musigny, Vougeot, Vosne-Romanée and Nuits-Saint-Georges. On paper this appears to be simply a list of place names, but from such vineyards emerge the world’s greatest Pinot Noir.
The soils of the Côte de Nuits are predominantly sandy-limestone based, fossil and mineral-rich, covered with slope-wash silt. The soil is thin so that the vines benefit from rather fractured, limestone bedrock, where they dig deeply to find water.
The climate is essentially continental with cold winters and fairly hot, sunny summers. The Burgundian paradox is that it produces the finest Pinot Noir in the world yet the region is pretty marginal in terms of Pinot Noir production, being so far north. Ripening before the often wet autumn weather sets in has often been a challenge, as are the continual, often related worries over disease. The continental nature of the climate also means that hail is a perennial concern as entire crops can be annihilated in one storm.
The slopes are varied but are mainly easterly facing – orientale – hence the Côte d’Or . Indents and combes between the slopes allow some more north-easterly and south-easterly aspects and the vines are planted at between 225m and 350m altitude.
As is so often the case in Burgundy , we owe a great debt to monastic tradition. It was in fact the monks who really boosted viticulture in Burgundy and this is turn aided the spread of Christianity across western Europe. Clos de Tart, Romanée-Saint-Vivant, Clos de Vougeot and Clos de Bèze are just a few examples where the names resonate with their ecclesiastical past. There is no doubting that these monks had an eye for terroir .