Sunday, June 20, 2021

The Hill of Corton, White Wines

 Burgundy is widely regarded as the most complex wine region in the world. However, all you have to initially understand are three principles about its structure. One, it is vineyard based (as opposed to winery based). Two, there are distinct subregions, displaying quite distinct characteristics. Three, there is a hierarchy of wines, starting from grand cru and going down. What makes it complicated for non French people is the labelling, but let us just ignore this here.

However, within Burgundy, there is one region which is really complicated, and this is the Hill of Corton. The following map shows its terroir. As can be seen, vineyards can point in all directions other than North. There are also major differences in altitude.


Corton is the largest grand cru area in Burgundy. The white wines are mostly labelled Corton-Charlemagne. I will review three of those wines here. The first is the 2010 Louis Jadot Domaine des Héritiers Corton-Charlemagne.

Louis Jadot has a negociant business with varying quality. This wine, from a south facing owned vineyard, is excellent. It has the hallmarks of a white grand cru: good fruit weight, good length, and power. Yet it starts with a fragrant nose, but then builds on the palate via intense fruit flavours and minerality to a lasting finish.

Score: 95/+++

The second wine, the 2012 Henri Boillot Corton-Charlemagne, is vastly different.

This wine is two years younger, yet the colour is more advanced and golden. Primary fruit is not the prominent feature here any more. The flavours are creamy, with nougat and hazelnut on top of wet stone minerality. This wine has a big mouthfeel (like Meursault) and good intensity.

Score: 94/+++

The third wine is the 2015 Buisson-Charles Corton-Charlemagne. This wine is the total opposite to the last wine. This is a delicate wine, despite hailing from a very warm vintage. The colour is quite pale.
Pineapple and passion fruit flavours dance lightly on the palate. The wine has good drive, but is perhaps a little thin on the back palate.

Score: 93/++

Conclusion: We have three wines here from the same subregion, yet they are totally different: the Jadot a grand cru classic, the Henri-Boillot a big and ripe wine, and the Buisson-Charles delicate and light. 

Let me come back to my introduction. The Burgundy principles are not that hard, but the key to understand and appreciate it, is to understand the producer. If you had tasted one of these wines, and you thought you knew what Corton tastes like, you could not have been more wrong. And this is what makes the Hill of Corton particularly difficult. The range of expressions here is probably wider than anywhere else in Burgundy.  



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