Is Corton-Charlemagne a grand cru?

Answered by James Smith

Corton-Charlemagne is indeed a Grand Cru in the Burgundy region of France. The term “Grand Cru” is a classification given to the highest quality vineyard sites in Burgundy, indicating their superior terroir and potential for producing exceptional wines. Corton-Charlemagne is one of the most renowned and prestigious Grand Cru vineyards in Burgundy.

The vineyard is located on the Corton hill in the Côte de Beaune subregion, specifically in the communes of Aloxe-Corton, Pernand-Vergelesses, and Ladoix-Serrigny. It is named after the historical figure Charlemagne, the Holy Roman Emperor who owned vineyards in the area during the 8th century.

Corton-Charlemagne is primarily known for its white wines, which are made from Chardonnay grapes. The vineyard covers a total area of approximately 52 hectares, making it one of the largest Grand Cru vineyards in Burgundy. The soils in Corton-Charlemagne are diverse, with a mixture of limestone, clay, and marl, providing depth and complexity to the wines.

The wines produced from Corton-Charlemagne are typically characterized by their power, richness, and complexity. They often exhibit a combination of ripe orchard fruit flavors, such as apples and pears, along with citrus notes, like lemon and grapefruit. These fruit flavors are often complemented by hints of toasted nuts, white flowers, and a subtle influence of new oak.

In terms of structure, Corton-Charlemagne wines are full-bodied and ample, with a generous mouthfeel. They have a good level of acidity, which helps to balance the richness and adds freshness to the wines. The wines can age gracefully, developing additional layers of complexity and tertiary aromas over time.

As a sommelier, I have had the pleasure of tasting several vintages of Corton-Charlemagne. One particular experience that stands out is a tasting of the 2010 Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru. The wine had a beautiful golden color and a captivating nose filled with aromas of ripe apples, honey, and a touch of vanilla from the oak aging. On the palate, it was rich and creamy, with a perfect balance between the fruit flavors and the vibrant acidity. The long, lingering finish left a lasting impression.

Corton-Charlemagne is undoubtedly a Grand Cru that showcases the exceptional quality and character of the vineyards in Burgundy. Its reputation as a top-tier is well-deserved, and it continues to captivate wine enthusiasts with its power, complexity, and ability to age gracefully. Whether enjoyed on its own or paired with a delicious meal, Corton-Charlemagne is a wine that truly exemplifies the beauty and elegance of the Burgundy region.