Haute Cotes de Beaune

Haute Cotes de Beaune is the high slopes above Burgundy’s main Cote d’Or. Traditionally it was way too cold to ripen grapes with any consistency. But that is changing. And some sites are making stunning wines. The Haute Cotes de Beaune style is often a leaner, more elegant take on Burgundy. However, in the right year, the richness of the sun can come through into your glass. This might be where we are sourcing the great wines of Burgundy in 50-100 years from now.


The classic part of Burgundy known as the Cote d’Or (the slope of gold) is essentially one vineyard that is 60km long and maybe 5km at its widest. From this limestone ridge, some of the most complex, long-lived and aromatic wines are produced from Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. The Cistercian monks who owned the land codified the entire region and so each small plot has a name.


The grape that you can plant anywhere, in any climate and do anything to and it will still taste like an OK wine. When people hit the sweet spot of site, climate, cropping and winemaking, Chardonnay becomes a magical wine that will age gracefully but charm you at any age. Chardonnays can range from cool-climate lean and citrusy to warmer climate tropical and overt. Oak and lees can add flavouring as can malolactic fermentation.

Pinot Noir

This is the most elusive grape. It is relatively early ripening and extremely sensitive to terroir. Its perfect place on earth is the Cote d’Or in Burgundy. So haunting are great red Burgundy’s charms that growers everywhere try to emulate them. Pinot Noir is not just a one-trick pony, it can make great reds, rosé, sparkling and even sweet wines, whites on occasion and I’ve tasted a decent fortified Pinot Noir too.

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