Beaune wine is produced in the commune of Beaune. The commune, at 12 square miles, is one of the largest in the Côte d'Or, and as a result over 1,000 acres of vineyards exist in Beaune. This is a massive amount by Burgundian standards, and in fact, Beaune is the most expansive AOC in the Côte d'Or. It is not to be confused with the other Beaune appellations, such as Hautes-Côtes de Beaune or Côte de Beaune-Villages, which refer to the entire Beaune slope.
A major tourist attraction, Beaune is well known for its beautiful landscape and rustic architecture. And a number of these buildings house large wine négociants, with Drouhin being a prime example, and as a result Beaune has acquired a reputation as one of the important physical areas for wine, if not one of the best areas for wine growing. On the north end of the slope its equivalent is Nuits-St-Georges.
With a whopping 42 Premiers Crus, Beaune is no less important for the wine it actually grows. There are no Grands Crus, but several of the Premiers Crus are very famous. Keep in mind, however, that almost 4/5 of the AOC wine from here is designated as Premier Cru, devaluing the name. As a result is necessary to pick out one of the more outstanding of the Premiers Crus. Most of the wine produced is red Pinot Noir, but there are a few famous examples of luscious white wine from Chardonnay.
The commune of Beaune itself enjoys an extraordinarily long history. In the 1440s the Chancellor to the Duchy of Bourgogne founded the philanthropic Hospices de Beaune there. Now, the organization is best known for their charitable annual wine auction.
As an appellation for wine, Beaune has existed since AOC has—it belonged to a batch of the first AOCs in 1936. Since then, a number of its Premiers Crus—notably Clos des Mouches—have risen to a cult status. The large production makes Beaune wine easy to find, and the versatile, diverse wines can often be well-priced. As a result, Beaune is now one of the most important wine AOCs in the Côte de Beaune.
Climate and Viticulture
There is so much diversity among the Beaune vineyards that it is hard even here to summarize Beaune's climate and viticulture. Even in the Premiers Crus vineyards, some of the more Pommard-like territory produces excellent red wine. At the same time, there are less concentrated areas with poor viticulture conditions.
Many of the best vineyards are marked by "Clos", meaning they are literally closed in. This makes them less susceptible to wind conditions and often makes for reliable, excellent wine. Clos de Mouches is a prime example.
- Pinot Noir: Clos des Mouches excepted, Pinot Noir still produces the most well-known of the wine in Beaune, such as Jadot's Clos des Ursules. The reds are light and approachable but rarely too simple to show a complex character of red fruits and firm but reserved tannins. The more expensive the Pinot, the more powerful it usually is. But that's not to say that inexpensive village level wines can't provide easy-drinking pleasure and some remarkable complexity.
- Chardonnay: Chardonnay is still comparatively rare in Beaune, but Clos des Mouches has raised its popularity and encouraged other growers to imitate its style of creamy, soft richness. The wines age for as much as 10 years, but are good for early drinking due to their roundness.
Unlike other villages in the Côte de Beaune, Beaune itself does not have négociants that sell reliable, inexpensive, but non-outstanding wines. In fact, the négociants sometimes concentrate their best efforts in Beaune, which their operations are often based in. As a result, the négociants are typically the leaders here, although some exceptions exist in the list of a dozen leaders below. The wine made by these producers is discussed under subregions below.
- Bouchard Pere et Fils
- Chanson Pere et Fils
- Domaine des Croix
- Joseph Faiveley
- Maison Camille Giroud
- Domaine Michel Lafarge
- Domaine de Montille
- Domaine Albert Morot
- Nicolas Potel
- Domaine Tollot Beaut
While there are no Grands Crus in Beaune, this omission is more than made up for by a knockout 42 Premiers Crus. In fact, nearly 4/5 of the vineyards of Beaune are designated as Premiers Crus, leading to a severe lack of quality control that doesn't jibe with some of the better Côte de Beaune appellations. As a result, it is necessary to simply pick out the best of the Premiers Crus by hand. Those that stand out are given special mention in the list below.
- A l'Ecu
- Les Aigrots: For white wine as well as red, this is one of the most common Premiers Crus. The reds are usually very powerful in nature, while the white is typical white Burgundy without the sophistication or price of top appellations'. The aromatic but austere Morot red is a good example, as is the spicy, exotic Lafarge. Morot and Montille both make good whites.
- Aux Coucherias
- Aux Cras: The austere Giroud and the more average wine from Champy are good examples here.
- Les Avaux: Giroud and Lafarge make sweetish, approachable Pinot in this vineyard.
- Les Bas des Teurons
- Blanches Fleurs
- Les Boucherottes
- Les Bressandes: One of the most commonly seen Premier Cru vineyards in Beaune, this one makes wine of intense yet sufficiently luscious character. Morot and Potel's examples are the most true to this style, while Chanson and Croix make less predictable, but also good, examples.
- Les Cent Vignes: Some of the most expensive Beaunes are found at this vineyard. Many of the better producers have holdings in Les Cent Vignes. Examples range from the silky Morot to Croix's traditional cuvée to the earthier Giroud.
- Champs Pimont: Good wine from Champy here.
- Les Chouacheux
- Clos des Avaux
- Clos de l'Ecu: Approachable, mild wine from Faiveley is good here.
- Clos de la Féguine
- Clos des Mouches: This luscious area for red wine as well as white has a few good producers such as Champy and Potel, but Drouhin's flagship cuvée here is so famous it may as well be a monopole. Drouhin's wines are usually soft bargain-level Burgundies, but his red Clos des Mouches is intense with a richness of flavor rarely found outside Grands Crus. Earthy and exotically rich, with a clear need for aging, the wine should develop well for 15 years. The white is actually more intense than the red, with full, Montrachet-like flavors of yellow fruit.
- Clos de la Mousse: Bouchard is a leader in this slightly obscure Premier Cru.
- Clos du Roi: This is one to keep in mind. Champy and Tollot-Beaut make inexpensive, modest wine here of a good pedigree.
- Clos St-Landry: The home of another good red Bouchard.
- Clos des Ursules: This in turn is the home of Jadot's flagship red Beaune, an earthy and exotic but refined cuvée that can be drunk immediately or aged.
- En Genêt
- En l'Orme
- Les Épenotes
- Les Fèves
- Les Grèves: This very popular Premier Cru, certainly the most common and important in Beaune, is the home of Bouchard's flagship Beaune cuvée, "Vigne de l'Enfant Jesus." Powerful but classy, with red fruit and earth notes, it is one of the best cuvées in Beaune. The Croix, the ambitious Drouhin, the earthy, firm Lafarge, round Montille, earthy Potel, and inexpensive Tollot-Beaut are other good cuvées.
- Les Marconnets: Bouchard's cuvée is good here, but Morot's is by far the best, balancing significant power with pleasant earthy flavors.
- La Mignotte
- Montée Rouge
- Les Montrevenots
- Les Perrières: The minerally, intense Domaine de Montille cuvée is often the best here.
- Pertuisots: Croix's cuvée here provides good value.
- Les Reversées
- Les Sceaux
- Les Seurey
- Les Sizies: The unusual Montille is good here.
- Sur les Grèves
- Sur les Grèves-Clos-St-Anne
- Les Teurons: Teurons is one of the most important and unusual Beaune Premiers Crus, making rich, structured wine hardly similar to typical Burgundies. The main example of this is the powerful Morot, while from Bouchard and Potel the intensity is not as noticeable.
- Les Toussaints: Albert Morot's great cuvée is intense and concentrated in style but still has that nose of exotic fruit typical to Beaune.
- Les Tuvilains
- Les Vignes Franches: Wild but approachable, the Potel is often the best here.