Today I am starting on the most daunting project of them all – the mighty Corton hill.
This unique and complex vineyard is a lifelong study, and presumably one would have to start all over in the midst of the project, as owners and vignerons would have changed.
So, in reality, I will never finish. But that isn’t my purpose. This is a continuing project that I can expand and develop over time as I get older (I am now 55). I plan to give a status report when I (hopefully) reach 60, 65, 70, 75 … and perhaps even older.
Why, you ask? Let’s face it: The Corton vineyard is not naturally a cradle of hedonistic joy. Yet more and more producers are finding ways to express its fine energy and emotional pleasures. This demands hard work.
Let me give you a couple of examples of the emotions, hedonistic joy and pleasure that the Corton wines can give if well made.
I have to mention the Domaine Moron-Garcia Corton Cuvée Baie-par-Baie, which reached tremendous hedonistic levels in 2017, 2018, and, especially, 2019.
On the white side, there are perhaps more examples. Producers like de Montille and Domaine Faiveley are challenging the hedonistic boundaries of the Corton hill – alongside Coche-Dury and other more classic stars.
White Cortons are apparently easier to make, yet sadly not many producers have the ability to unleash their true potential.
The reds need both more hard work, and more creativity, to reveal the hill’s potential.
The Corton hill – size
The Corton hill is large and very complex, and to fully comprehend the wines and structures of the magnificent hill one needs to start from the beginning.
The Corton hill contains in total 150.55 ha of grand cru vineyards – 57.70 ha of Corton-Charlemagne, 88.68 ha of red Corton and 4.17 ha of white Corton, according to the BIVB (figures from 2018).
Nothing, however, is simple regarding Corton. Jasper Morris quotes the area as 160.19 ha in total – almost 10 ha larger than the BIVB figures. But we’ll dig deeper into the numbers as we move on.
The Corton, Corton-Charlemagne, and little-used Charlemagne appellations include three villages – Aloxe-Corton, Ladoix-Serrigny and Pernand-Vergelesses.
The Corton hill features numerous climats in its three appellations (note that some climats are both grand and 1er cru).
And since a given vineyard can be both white and red, the surface-area figures are somewhat dynamic. That said, one would imagine that the total area of the hill would be pretty constant!
The area has been expanded from time to time. Approximately 10 ha were added to the Pernand end in 1966, and in 1978, Les Grandes Lolières, Mourottes, and parts of Hautes and Basses Mourottes were promoted to grand cru status.
There are 32 different climats included in the Corton vineyard – some known, some unknown, some partly grand cru, others completely grand cru.
Le Clos du Roi
Le Meix Lallemand
Clos des Meix
La Vigne au Saint
|Le Rognet et Corton|
Clos des Cortons Faiveley
Les Grandes Lolières
La Toppe au Vert
|Ile des Vergelesses|
Les Basses Vergelesses
|Creux de la Net|
|Les Plantes des Champs **|
Sous Les Clos Berthet
All collectors of Corton can of course recite these 32 names from memory – or perhaps not.
The appellations – understanding the white and the reds
A Corton-Charlemagne and a Charlemagne can only be white, while red wines made from vineyards in these traditionally white areas will always be called Corton.
A white Corton made outside the Corton-Charlemagne or Charlemagne area will be labelled as white Corton.
Not many white Cortons are made, but a few can be found. One prominent example is Domaine Chandon de Briailles’ Corton Blanc, which comes from 0.60 ha (85% Bressandes, 15% Corton Chaumes) and is a delightful wine.
The Corton Journey
As mentioned above, approaching and researching Corton should be done with respect and patience.
One can attack the hill in many different ways, and I will. But in the end, it is a question of producers and plots, and I will start exploring Corton with what I feel are the most interesting and prominent producers on this mighty hill.
What can I say? Let’s go Corton crazy!
Articles about the Corton Hill
- Terroir Insight: Domaine Michel Mallard Corton-Charlemagne December 29, 2020
- Terroir Insight: Chantereves Corton-Charlemagne December 18, 2020
- Terroir Insight: Domaine Simon Bize Corton-Charlemagne December 9, 2020
- Terroir Insight: Domaine Michel Gaunoux Corton Renardes December 2, 2020
- Terroir Insight: Domaine des Croix Corton-Charlemagne November 22, 2020
- Terroir Insight: Domaine des Croix Corton Les Grèves November 21, 2020
- Terroir Insight: Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Corton-Charlemagne November 15, 2020
- Terroir Insight: Domaine de Montille Corton Clos du Roi October 30, 2020
- Terroir Insight: Louis Latour – Corton Clos de la Vigne au Saint October 27, 2020
- Terroir Insight: Bouchard Père et Fils Le Corton October 22, 2020
- Terroir Insight: Domaine de Montille Corton Pougets – or is it Charlemagne? October 21, 2020
- Terroir Insight: Bouchard Père et Fils Corton-Charlemagne October 19, 2020
- Terroir Insight: Domaine Meo-Camuzet – Corton La Vigne au Saint October 16, 2020
- Terroir Insight: Domaine des Croix – Corton La Vigne au Saint October 15, 2020
- Terroir Insight: Domaine Coche-Dury Corton-Charlemagne October 9, 2020
- Terroir Insight: Domaine Leroy Corton-Charlemagne October 8, 2020