Blink and you’d miss it if it were not for the massive hill of Corton looming above the tiny hamlet of Aloxe (pronounced Alosse). Located in Burgundy’s illustrious Cote de Beaune, this village may be small (<200 inhabitants) but its reputation is colossal in the wine world. Surrounded tightly by vineyards in all directions, Aloxe cannot grow much as the possibilities to build new housing are long gone---no one would ever consider ripping out a single vine in one of Burgundy’s most prized districts, referred to as Aloxe-Corton.
So what’s so special about Aloxe-Corton? Everything. This area produces, in my opinion, the epitome of both reds and whites. For Burgundy, this means the crème de la crème of Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays. The reds outnumber the whites by nearly 50 to 1, however, Chardonnay was not planted until the 19th century.
The entire village has been granted Grand Cru status. Most Pinots are called “Corton,” the Chars mainly are referred to as “Corton-Charlemagne” (named after Emperor Charlemagne who granted the original lands for the vineyards in the 8th century). This quiet little is village is the only one in all of Burgundy that produces Grand Cru reds and whites. Need I say more?
How does a Corton or Corton-Charlemagne differ from other Grand Cru Pinots and Chars from other districts of Burgundy? The thing I most remember about the red Cortons that have passed through these lips is their silky texture, gorgeous complexity and elegant length of finish. The Corton-Charlemagnes offer an intense fruit-mineral flavor profile and an exceptional “souvenir” (finish). Regardless of wine, I lean toward red typically and the red Corton is no exception. It would definitely be a contender for my “last meal.”