Along with Aloxe-Corton and Ladoix-Serrigny, Pernand-Vergelesses is one of the three Côte de Beaune villages that makes up the Corton hill. Famous for its deep, complex reds and elegant whites, the Corton hill is home to three Grands Crus and hundreds of the most prestigious wines in the world. The Pernand village, which encompasses 2.16 square miles and about 334 acres of vineyards, has its own Premier Cru wines, albeit somewhat obscure.
There are nine Premier Cru vineyards, three of which are used for white wine only. They make up about half of all Pernand-Vergelesses land. The white wine, which is satisfactorily made in a "mini-Corton-Charlemagne" style, is often some of the most well-priced Côte de Beaune wine. The red wine, which is similar to Corton but much less complex, is less of a value, but still reliable. Nowadays about 15,000 cases are produced, split between red and white.
Pernand-Vergelesses was recognized as AOC along with several of the other second-wave appellations, in 1970. No less than 42 years had passed since Aloxe-Corton, a very similar village, had been recognized. White production has been steadily increasing, now making up almost half of overall production.
Climate and Viticulture
Like Aloxe-Corton's, Pernand-Vergelesses' vineyards are located at the base of a hill. The benefit of this is the shelter from wind and horizontal rain, but the problem is that the land is flat. Corton-Charlemagne and Corton make for richer, more complex wines due to their high elevation and the better slope of the land. As a result, there are great differences in character between Pernand-Vergelesses' wines and the ones with Grand Cru distinction.
Still, the Premier Cru vineyards are just as worthy as any, and a number of weather and soil conditions are shared between Pernand-Vergelesses and the Grand Cru appellations. For consumers who are neither ultra-wealthy nor obsessed with viticultural minutiae, Pernand-Vergelesses is still a place for great red and white wine.
- Pinot Noir: These reds, which are exclusively made from the Pinot Noir grape, have a pleasant earthy core of red fruit and soil, but vary in depth and intensity depending on which producer you purchase from. Although simple in style, they are fairly elegant and boast great balance for a red wine. The best thing about these wines is the price; as well as costing less than the similarly rated neighbors in Aloxe-Corton, these Pinot Noirs are often better. Despite a few somewhat feminine characteristics, they are also built for aging: five years will bring out better flavors, and only after 10-12 years will the best wines begin to fade.
- Chardonnay: The Chardonnays sold here are even less expensive than that of Aloxe-Corton, which is itself considered to be a bargain zone for white wine. The Chardonnays lack the explosive richness that characterizes great Corton-Charlemagne, but they have a solid core of fruit that is very similar. They often cost under $50, which on relative terms is better even than the red wine. About three years of aging is the best; after five or so they will start fading quickly.
There are not so many clearly leading producers in Pernand-Vergelesses, and the relative obscurity of the region means that expert opinions are rather difficult to find. Clearly, the producers must be divided into two sections: one for red wine, and one for white wine. All their wines are discussed in the below subregions section.
Here is a list of the five best Pinot Noir producers of Pernand-Vergelesses.
- Domaine Chandon de Briailles
- Domaine Marius Delarche
- Domaine Laleure-Piot
- Domaine Jean-Marc Pavelot
There are few enough Chardonnays in Pernand-Vergelesses for most of them to be fairly good; the eminently available four are mentioned here.
- Domaine Chandon de Briailles
- Maison Deux Montilles
- Domaine Rapet Pere et Fils
- Domaine Rollin Pere et Fils
Pernand-Vergelesses has a significant share of the Corton hill, so the three Grands Crus Charlemagne, Corton, and Corton-Charlemagne all are part of Pernand-Vergelesses. Learn about these three vineyards on the Corton areas page.
The Pernand-Vergelesses commune is home to nine Premiers Crus.
- Clos Berthet: White wine only from this Premier Cru. Rapet is an important producer here.
- Clos du Village: This is also Chardonnay only. Rapet is a leader here.
- Creux de la Net
- En Caradeux
- Les Fichots
- Île des Vergelesses: The best Premier Cru vineyard in Pernand-Vergelesses overlaps Corton, where it is labeled as a lieu-dit. Mainly red wines are produced here, although Chandon de Briailles' simple-minded but pleasant and inexpensive Chardonnay is made in this vineyard. The same domaine makes great reds here, with firm intensity along with an intriguing earthiness. Marius-Delarche's round wines and Laleure-Piot's classical good values round out the offerings.
- Sous Frétille: The most common white wine appellation in Pernand-Vergelesses allows Chardonnay only. Rapet makes some good ones, but the best are the round, spicy Maison Deux Montilles examples.
- Les Vergelesses: There are a number of producers at this common Premier Cru; the leading ones are Chandon de Briailles (although their Île de Vergelesses is better), Laleure-Piot, and Pavelot. The latter two are remarkably concentrated and intense, indicating a period of aging would be prudent.