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Corton


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The lower vineyards of the Corton hill are mostly classified as Corton AOC, the only Grand Cru for red Pinot Noir in the Côte de Beaune. While world-famous villages such as Pommard and Volnay undoubtedly produce great Pinot, only the Corton vineyards are allowed to be classified as Grand Cru. As a result, Corton is often thought of as the Côte de Beaune's best red wine area. Ideally, the wines combine power with luscious aromas and flavors, making for some of the best Pinot, and it can age for 20+ years.

Over 360 acres of vineyards in Corton produce in excess of 30,000 cases a year. While only on the level of a Bordeaux first growth such as Lafite-Rothschild, this is amazingly high for a Burgundy Grand Cru. In fact, Corton is the largest Grand Cru of Burgundy.

This, and the fact that climats within Corton are so diverse, makes the use of lieux-dits necessary to further distinguish the wine for the benefit of the consumer. The vineyards in question do not always produce wine of a Grand Cru status, and there are many qualitative and geological differences among them.

Though reputation has largely set Corton as a red wine Grand Cru, it is also legal to classify white wine under its auspices. This Chardonnay-based white is very obscure, but can often be less expensive than the Corton-Charlemagne and sometimes equally good.

History

Like the other hill AOCs, the Corton appellation was founded in 1937. Before that, it did not have a particularly long or notable history.

Climate and Viticulture

The Corton appellation provides some of the best Pinot Noirs in the world due to its hilly climate. While white grapes do better higher up on the hill, making wine of a minerally richness distinct from the other famous Côte de Beaune Grands Crus, Pinot Noir takes the concentrated limestone vineyards in a more intense, but equally balanced and elegant, direction.

The climate of Corton, and the microclimates of the very diverse individual vineyards, are of course highly optimized. And the low yields of the great producers makes for even better wine. In short, Corton is for whatever mysterious reason, one of those areas where all of Pinot Noir's finicky conditions are met and the grape just thrives.

Grape Varieties

Major Producers

Lucien Le Moine is our favorite producer of Chardonnay-based white Corton.

As for the red wine producers, there are a number of them. Most Corton wines are above average, but not all are excellent or worth the price. A list of all those expected to be outstanding are found here. All négociants not mentioned in this list also produce reliable, if not absolutely leading, red Corton. The below list contains 17 of the best producers.

Subregions

Following is a list of the 32 lieux-dits of Corton. Some of these--the more famous ones in general--will on occasion be listed, hyphenated, right after Corton, such as Corton-Bressandes for Les Bressandes. Predecessing words such as Les are dropped in these cases. Keep in mind that they are the same as simply listing the lieu-dit on another line as Corton.