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2009 Cotes de Nuits, La Robignotte, Gilles-Jourdan
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Pinot Noir is probably the most frustrating, and at times infuriating, wine grape in the world. However when it is successful, it can produce some of the most sublime wines known to man. This thin-skinned grape which grows in small, tight bunches performs well on well-drained, deepish limestone based subsoils as are found on Burgundy's Côte d'Or.
Pinot Noir is more susceptible than other varieties to over cropping - concentration and varietal character disappear rapidly if yields are excessive and yields as little as 25hl/ha are the norm for some climats of the Côte d`Or.
Because of the thinness of the skins, Pinot Noir wines are lighter in colour, body and tannins. However the best wines have grip, complexity and an intensity of fruit seldom found in wine from other grapes. Young Pinot Noir can smell almost sweet, redolent with freshly crushed raspberries, cherries and redcurrants. When mature, the best wines develop a sensuous, silky mouth feel with the fruit flavours deepening and gamey "sous-bois" nuances emerging.
The best examples are still found in Burgundy, although Pinot Noir`s key role in Champagne should not be forgotten. It is grown throughout the world with notable success in the Carneros and Russian River Valley districts of California, and the Martinborough and Central Otago regions of New Zealand.
Named after its principal village Nuits St Georges, the Côte de Nuits forms the northern half of Burgundy’s legendary Côte d’Or (‘golden slope’).It is a compact 20km strip running south from Dijon to Nuits St Georges with the best vineyards (Premiers Crus and Grands Crus) situated halfway up its slopes where the drainage, exposure and soils are at their best.
With 22 of the region’s 23 red Grand Crus, this is Pinot Noir country; most of Burgundy’s (and indeed the world’s) great Pinot Noirs are made here, along with a small number of high quality Chardonnays, including one tiny Grand Cru (Musigny). Quantities are minute, certainly compared with Bordeaux, and prices for the very best wines are thus high. Quantitatively however, the wines account for less than five percent of the region’s production.It is the most northerly region in Europe making great red wines, and for that reason getting the Pinot Noir grape to ripen before the wet autumn sets in is always a challenge. In addition, the region is often hit by vicious hail and heavy rain during the growing season that can cause dilution and rot.
Along with the Côte de Beaune, it is the most elaborate classification in the world, where the influence of terroir is most keenly felt. It is also the most fragmented: Clos de Vougeot’s 50ha, for example, is split between more than 90 growers.
The wines express many different styles but in general are weightier, firmer and more deeply-coloured than their Côte de Beaune counterparts. Gevrey-Chambertin, Vougeot and Nuits St Georges tend to produce more robust, masculine wines, while Chambolle-Musigny and Vosne-Romanée are all finesse and elegance.
Côte de Nuit Villages wines can be made from a small number of villages, mostly in the far north and south of the Côte. They are usually red in colour, and are often good value. Hautes Côtes de Nuits is also mostly red and produced in the hinterland to the southwest of Nuits St Georges.