Our knowledge about the different terroirs and climates of Burgundy is to a large degree determined by the producers. If fine terroir is owned by relatively unknown producers, then the qualities of the terroir will often be forgotten by the market, just as a hyped producer can put the spotlight on otherwise forgotten climates.
This is why turning to the historic sources is a good idea in Burgundy as there are a lot of hidden gems in the old books and maps.
The case of Fixin
Fixin is not very highly regarded by todays Burgundy collectors, but going 150 years back to Lavalle the top vineyards of Fixin was as higher regarded than many of the Grand Crus of Gevrey Chambertin today.
Take the 1861 classification map from Comite d’Agriculture de Beaune1 – here we have a large area of Fixin classified as 1eres Cuvée (pink area) – see map below (click on the map to enlarge).
If one take the same classification for Gevrey Chambertin only the climates Chambertin and Chambertin Clos de Beze were classified as 1eres Cuvée and the lower part of Mazis-Chambertin and Charmes was only classified as 3mes(green) just like most village climates in Vosne-Romanee – see map below (click on the map to enlarge).
This is confirmed by Lavalle2 who render a top classification (Tête de Cuvée) to the Fixin Clos de la Perrière . The climates La Chapitre, Les Arvelets, La Tremble, Echéseaux et Clos Napoleon (Aux Cheusots) are classified as Premiére Cuvée by Lavalle
I’m not saying that this part of Fixin is better than most of the Grand Crus of Gevrey Chambertin, but merely indicating that this area is worth exploring, especially now that new generations are producing wines of a less rustic nature.
Interesting terroirs mentioned by Henri Jayer
One of the greatest vignerons in Burgundy is no doubt Henri Jayer, and while he mainly produced wines in Vosne-Romanee and Nuits-Saint-Georges .. he also had a good eye for the quality of other Burgundian terroirs.
In Jacky Rigeaux’s3 fine book about Henri Jayer – “A tribute to the great wines of Burgundy” – Henri Jayer mention the following terroirs when speaking about the 1er crus in the classification – some well known others rather unknown even for a geek like me.
- Fixin, Clos Napoleon (Aux Cheusots)
- Gevrey-Chambertin Les Cazetieres
- Morey-Saint-Denis, Les Sorbets
- Chambolle Musigny, Les Amoureuses
- Vougeot, Blanc
- Vosne-Romanee, Les Brülees
- Nuis-Saint-Georges, Les Vaucrains
This goes to show, that our perception of the terroirs is limited and mainly controlled by our choise of producers. This makes sense to some degree – but using the terroirs as guide to new wines and new producers is in my view another fine way to explore Burgundy.
Firstly the standard of many relatively unknown producers is much higher than 20 years ago secondly the climate changes have more or less eliminated poor vintages. So there is a large number of good and very good wines waiting to be explored at fairly reasonable prices.
References & Sources:
- Batault-Morot, E. Plan statistique des vignobles produisant les grands vins de Bourgogne. (1861)
- Jules Lavalle, Histoire et Statistique de la Vignes et Des Grands Vins de la Côte d’Or (1855)
- Jacky Rigaux, A tribute to the great wines of Burgundy – Henry Jayer (2009) p. 65.