What is the Corton appellation?

Corton is the grand cru appellation which covers the slopes of the Corton mountain in the Côte de Beaune in Burgundy. It is the largest grand cru vineyard of Burgundy and one of the only two where the wines are made from pinot noir and chardonnay (the other being the Musigny vineyard). The wines of Corton were a favourite of Emperor Charlemagne, who gave his name to the white wines made on the west side of the hill. Corton received its status of grand cru in 1937, about the same time as most other famous sites in the Grand Cru of Burgundy.

 

  • The vineyard of Corton

The vineyard extends over 145 hectares through the communes of Aloxe-Corton, Ladoix-Serrigny and Pernand-Vergelesses, which surround the hill. As in the vineyard of Grand Cru de Chablis, any mention of the title Corton on a label is almost always followed by the name of the specific Climat where the wine comes from. With the variations in the terroir around the Corton hill, the differences between these Climats are noticeable. The Perrières vineyard is renowned for its fine reds, Les Vergennes for its flinty whites and the reds of Clos du Roi for their balance of power and elegance.

The hill of Corton is itself a large limestone outcrop, slightly apart from the main escarpment of the Côte d'Or. It marks the northern end of the Côte de Beaune and the arrival of the plain sown with vines that flows north of Beaune. The top of the diamond-shaped hill is covered by a dense forest called the Bois de Corton. Rumours have recently surfaced that the wood will be sold for the planting of new vineyards, alarming many producers who believe that this could radically change the mesoclimate on the hill.

The vines occupy the slopes of the hill for almost all of its circumference, although the grand cru slope covers only the southern half, sweeping majestically from east to west. On the west side, the limestone soils are closer to the surface, which is reflected in the essentially white wines made from these vineyards. The eastern side is slightly warmer - more exposed to the morning sun - and richer in marl, which is so well suited to Pinot Noir.

 

  • Wines of the appellation Corton

The classic Corton red wine is rich and relatively tannic, which means that it is quite austere in its youth but develops well with age. Tasting notes of Corton often refer to aromas of violets, forest berries, leather and earthy notes. Corton-Charlemagne is considered one of the best white wines in Burgundy and is renowned for its combination of fruit flavours (figs and baked pears) and mineral character (flint) - the latter being particularly common in wines from the colder western slopes. The wines of Corton are highly respected and can reach high prices, although they are not as prestigious as the wines of Montrachet or Romanée-Conti.

The vines of Corton had been maintained by the monasteries of the region since the Middle Ages and a large part of the vineyard had been confiscated during the French Revolution and sold. Today, the vineyard is owned by several renowned producers, including Louis Latour, the largest landowner, as well as Bonneau du Martray, Bouchard Père et Fils and the Hospices de Beaune .

The producers of Corton advise ageing between 4 and 12 years so that it can develop favourably, and to benefit from its qualities in terms of fat and firmness. White Cortons are said to be elegant and racy. Their notes of flowers and citrus fruits is mixed with mineral, buttery, honeyed notes, and notes of baked apple, fern and cinnamon.
 

Corton producers not to be missed: Maison Louis LatourDominique Laurent - Vieilles VignesDidier Meuneveaux

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