Tasting T1.5 Cotes de Beaune Blanc

In tasting T1.4 we covered Cotes de Beaune Red’s from Louis Jadot, all Premier Cru. In this tasting T1.5 we will cover the same area but in white wines, from many growers.

The Cote de Beaune produces some of the greatest iterations of the Chardonnay grape and certainly some of the most expensive.

The most expensive of wines are based around Grand Cru vineyards of Chassagne and Puligny-Montrachet. Those we will taste later in T1.6.

Today we will taste some of the best value for money offerings, but don’t think these are cheap.

Wines from Pernand-Vergelesses, Aloxe-Corton and Beaune in the north of the Cotes de Beaune down to Saint Aubin, Meursault and Puligny-Montrachet in the southern end.

All the wines are Premier Cru and all of the wines are 100% Chardonnay.

What makes Chardonnay so special?

Chardonnay is a green skinned grape variety and it is used in the production of white wine. Originating in Burgundy, it is now grown in every wine region of the world from England to New Zealand.

Chardonnay is quite a neutral grape and as such the flavours that we get from its wines are heavily influenced by both terroir and oak.

Chardonnay is made in various styles, from the crisp, mineral and leaner wines of Chablis, often with no oak. To the New World styles of exotic tropical fruit flavours often with a good dollop of vanilla coming from some new oak barrelling.


This is a French term which derives from the word terre meaning land. In wine terms Terroir is used to describe a group of factors that affect how the wine tastes and develops. It has not always been  universally accepted as it has an imprecise definition. This is often based on traditional belief rather than being backed by rigorous research and data.

For many years in Australia for example their was a common belief that it was simply the French using the term to justify their idea of some wines having an inherent quality based on location. Sometimes however, this missed the point.

On the more natural side, Terroir is a mixture of climate, soil type and Geomorphology. (That’s a long word meaning natural landscape such as mountains, rivers, valley’s plus aspect, elevation, and any organisms locally flora and fauna etc.)

On the more human side, Terroir can include deciding which grape variety to plan in which field, methods of pruning, irrigation and selection when it comes to harvest.

Terroir and the Appellation Controlee system in France, collectively tell the buyer what to expect from a wine and given that good high quality wines from known areas are not cheap, it is quite handy to have a good idea of what to expect.

So, how does terroir influence the Chardonnay wines that we can buy.

In terms of location and style:

Lighter cool climate styles tend to have noticeable acidity and resemble green plum, apple and pear.

In warmer climates like Melbourne and Marlborough, we taste more citrus, peach and melon.

In very warm climates like California, we taste figs and tropical notes like banana and mango.

Within this though, a south facing vineyard gets more sunshine and is therefore fuller and richer.

Many years ago we visited Chateau Fuisse and were treated to an interesting tasting of three vineyards bottled separately from the three different vineyards.

Le Clos – Clay-limestone strata and a south-east facing plot gives complexity to the wine.

Les Brules – A bowed vineyard bathed in sunshine with marl soils. Fresh rich and generous wine.

Les Combettes – Stony and calcerous soil, well drained giving fine, very mineral and particularly racy wines.

All three of these wines are from the same grower using the same grape (Chardonnay) and we tasted them from the same vintage. The difference which was incredibly marked, was down to the differences in the terroir.

All three wines also contributed to a final blend called Chateau Fuisse Vieille Vignes. A wonderful balanced wine with nuances from all of the three plots.

The point of all this is to share just how much Chardonnay can show its different sides, not just by its location in the world but also by its location and terroir between one vineyard and the next.

Malolactic Fermentation

If the wines have been made using malolactic fermentation then they tend to have softer acidity and a more buttery mouthfeel.

If the wines are made without this method, they tend to have fresher, lighter, more crisp styles with lively acidity. A god example of which would be Chablis.

Oak Ageing

Oak ageing in Chardonnay is very common as the grape’s neutrality lends itself to many different expressions of the variety through careful and judicious use of oak in its ageing. This is then where a winemakers skill and desire come into play. They decide whether to use a wide ranging choice from a small amount of old oak ageing which will impart little flavour. Or to head in the direction of a few years in new oak, which will add a deep vanilla flavour to the wine.

At its worse though there were some places adding bags of oak sawdust into tanked wines and stirring it in to cheaply try to add that flavour. This turned a lot of people off oaked chardonnay and started a movement known as ABC. Anything But Chardonnay!

Finding the word ‘Unoaked’ on the label of a bottle of Chardonnay became very fashionable in the New World mainly as a backlash against those too cheap heavily oaked Chardonnay’s that used to be in abundance.

I would add that those days are long gone and you can get excellent examples of both oaked and non-oaked Chardonnay from pretty much anywhere in the world now. The really good ones are also worth paying a little bit extra for.

To the Domaines….

Domaine Jean-Jacques Girard

Founded in the early 15th Century, Jean-Jacques Girard’s family has been growing grapes in Savigny-Les-Beaune since 1529. This makes them one of the oldest Domaine’s in Burgundy.

Seven generations later and Jean-Jacques Girard created his own estate. In 2008 his son Vincent joined him. They currently have 40 – 50 acres and have holdings from Savigny-les-Beaune to Aloxe-Corton, Volnay, Pommard and Corton Charlemagne to name but a few.

Domaine Bouchard Pere et Fils

Arguably one of the most well-known and impressive Domaine’s in Burgundy if not the world.

Founded in 1731 by Michel Bouchard in Beaune, 9 generations of family have worked in this incredible company. It was in 1755 that Joseph (Michel’s son) acquired his first vineyards in Volnay and after that the rest is history.

Today the estate boasts 130 hectares of vines, 12 of which are Grand Cru and 74 Premier Cru.

Domaine Marc Colin

Founded towards the end of the 1970’s by Marc Colin, they started with 6 hectares of vignes in Chassagne-Montrachet and Saint-Aubin.

Now the Domaine is run by Marc and Michele’s son and daughter Caroline and Damien. They have since purchased many more vineyards. Currently they operate 12 hectares of vignes within 26 appellations including Saint-Aubin, Chassagne-Montrachet, Puligny-Montrachet and Santenay.

Domaine Philippe Bouzereau

Bouzereau is a very common name in Meursault, shockingly they are all cousins! All have been involved with vines and for many many generations.

Philippe and his brother Charles currently own about 17 hectares of vines from Chassagne-Montrachet to Aloxe, however he is principally in Meursault.

Dad and I have been visiting this Domaine for quite some time. We find his Meursault’s to be fantastic whilst affordable. Not something to be taken lightly!

Domaine Jean Chartron

Founded in 1859, currently the 5th generation in Jean-Michel and Anne-Laure run this classic Domaine.

They currently operate 14,50 hectares of vignes in Puligny-Montrachet and have arguably mastered their craft. All vignes are roughly 40 years old with intricate harvesting and poignant wine making at the core of their Domaine. Vineyards throughout Puligny are Premier Cru and Grand Cru with some villages.

Domaine Chandon de Briailles

Founded in 1834, the Domaine currently belongs to the Count and Countess Aymard-Claude de Nicolay and their children (try saying that after this tasting!). The Count’s grandmother, whom he inherited it from, is herself related to the famous Champagne house Moet et Chandon.

The Domaine has over 13.7 hectares shared equally between Savigny-les-Beaune , Pernand-Vergelesses and Aloxe Corton.

To the wines…

This evenings tasting will be conducted by myself and Harry, with able (or not) assistance lent by Kim and Jen. 

Quick disclaimer! In our haste to start this tasting we forgot to take individual photos so I do apologise!!!

1st up is…

Pernand-Vergelesses 1er Cru Sous Fretilles 2016

Nose: Yellow colour on first viewing. Stone fruits, butter and honey. Lovely vanilla notes also present.

Palate: Honeyed stone fruits, gorgeous body and well rounded. Vanilla and butter pronounced towards the finish. A full bodied wine with high acidity and a medium – full length finish. This is a fantastic representation of Pernand-Vergelesses.

Bouchard Pere et Fils Beaune du Chateau 1er Cru 2016

Nose: Yellow colour on first viewing. Intense nose with richer stone fruits and good minerality. Again the notes of butter and vanilla coming through as well.

Palate: The richer and deep stone fruit aromas translate perfectly onto the palate. Hints of orange blossom and floral notes bring together the buttery sensation. A classic Beaune de Château in my opinion and gorgeous at that. Full bodied with high acidity and a very long finish. Sitting extremely pretty.

Marc Colin Saint-Aubin 1er Cru En Remilly 2016

Nose: Yellow colour on first viewing. Straight off the mark with linear minerality and white stone fruits. An elegant nose.

Palate: The butter and vanilla not overpowering rather working with the fruit to create a beautifully balanced wine with perfect structure. The minerality shows perfect purity and this is just a gorgeous wine. Medium bodied with moderate – high acidity and a full-length finish. This is a cracking wine.

Philippe Bouzereau Meursault 1er Cru Genevrieres 2014

Nose: Gold colour on first viewing. Deep, rich nose with white stone fruits, honeysuckle and marmalade.

Palate: Orange blossom and marmalade really pronounced. A beautifully crafted wine with a full body, high acidity and full length finish. The mouthfeel is elegant whilst not holding back, tertiary characteristics primarily at the forefront. This is just singing and I would highly recommend to anyone. Something to buy recent vintages of and lay down in my opinion.

Jean Chartron Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru Caillerets 2014

Nose: Yellow colour on first viewing. Extremely mineral with flint and wet slates. Floral aromas as well with butter and lemon coming through.

Palate: Minerality again very pronounced on the palate, floral notes of orange blossom as well. Hints of marmalade and brioche but this baby still has lots to give. I can’t believe I’m saying it but this will continue to age for quite some time. It is gorgeous at the moment but this will give pleasurable drinking for a long time.

Domaine Chandon de Briailles Corton Blanc Grand Cru 2016

Nose: Yellow colour on first viewing. Sweet fruit with peach and apricot very intense. Almost a pink lemonade aroma with the citrus and brioche notes combining.

Palate: Minerality is ever present with purpose and direction a clear indicator of how good this wine is. Sweet fruit notes with butter and brioche again very prominent. A structured and balanced full bodied wine with high acidity. This has a very long life ahead of it. This will continue to age for a good 8 years+ and if anyone has any it is drinking beautifully now and age will only turn this wine into greatness. Nicely fitting the incredible appellation it is from. 


So admittedly this was a tasting that all four of us were very excited for. For at least 3 of us, Burgundy white wines are our favourite wines to drink. So naturally you (the reader) would assume that we would be biased. I must admit that is quite possible, however I must stress how simply elegant and yet powerful these wines truly are. In my humble opinion no other region in the world can make white wines like Burgundy can.

Most of these wines tasted were admittedly also at the top of their range. As such they are not cheap, which I am sure you already figured out. However, you will be able to find many good white wines from Burgundy that are extremely similar to the ones tasted above. I can assure you that you will find great pleasure in some of the more affordable wines that are produced.

The scores:

Pernand-Vergelesses 1er Cru 2016 – 94 Points

Beaune du Chateau 1er Cru 2016 – 93 Points

St-Aubin 1er Cru 2016 – 96 Points

Meursault 1er Cru 2014 – 97 Points

Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru 2014 – 98 Points

Corton Grand Cru 2016 – 97 Points

All wines were excellent and thoroughly enjoyable. I would say the last three were just impeccable but realistically all of them were intrinsically different and fantastic. An impressive line up which completely delivered beautiful and sound wines.

As always thank you for reading and see you next week !!

David & Harry

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