Before the addition of Marsannay in 1987, Fixin (pronounced by most as ‘Fiss-in’ or ‘Fee-sin’) made up the most northerly appellation of the Côte d’Or.
Actually ‘Fixin’ is taken together with the wines of it’s near neighbour Fixey (the two churches are only 5 minutes walk apart). Considering Fixin/Fixy’s proximity to Dijon it’s a relatively quiet and unspoilt backwater.
Spend some time walking through the village and you will find the usual mix of grand and humbler dwellings, but the emphasis tends more to the grander and the average appearance is very smart – perhaps it’s the perfect bolt-hole from a job in Dijon! In Fixey you will find the 10th century church – of Saint-Antoine – which is certainly worth looking around. I can only think of Aloxe-Corton being equally as restful.
At the very top of the village is a useful parking area that allows you to walk downhill to explore the village, or uphill with walks into the Parc Noisot for cooling you down on hot summer days. The park was established by Claude Noisot who, according to the road signs, was the surgeon to the Emperor Napoléon. It was Claude who re-christened the vines he owned in Les Cheosots as ‘Clos Napoléon’ in hommage to his Emperor, and established the mini museum in the park with a copy of the Emperor’s house on Elba, and commissioned the bronze of Napoléon by the Dijon artist Rude.
Most believe that the Romans introduced viticulture into the Côte d’Or, but the remains of a tomb found near the village imply that Fixin was already inhabited ~2,000 B.C. – of course, there’s nothing to say that wine was also produced at that time. Fixin was also a regular stopping point for the Duke’s of Burgundy, indeed the buildings of the Domaine de la Perrière were once their hunting lodge.
The Fixin appellation which became official in 1936, produces both village and premier cru labels that be both red or white wine. Fixin is separated from Gevrey by the commune of Brochon – which labels its wines as Gevrey-Chambertin.
Fixin sits mainly on an east, south-east facing hillside looking across to the flat Saone valley. The premier crus are mainly above the houses of the village, protected from the worst weather by a wood at the top of the hill. Among all the communes of the Côte d’Or, Fixin’s position seems to be blessed in such a way that it is rarely visited by hail.
The vines of the commune of Fixin also include Côte de Nuits-Villages to compliment the Fixin villages and premier cru labels, actually the villages Fixin can always take the Côte de Nuits Villages label if the producer prefers.
Production is almost exclusively red wines, though a little white of both village and premier cru level is also produced – you find fine village examples from Domaine Lucie et Auguste Lignier, Maison Alex Gambal and from Maison JC Boisset. The vines on lower lying ground – i.e. below the village centre – tend to have deeper soils that are a mixture of limestone and marl, these produce the village appellation wines.
The premier cru plots tend to be on reasonably homogenous, well-drained clay (brown) soils at 350 to 380 metres of altitude. They are rather over-representative of ‘monopoles’ as we have a much higher than usual incidence of ‘single ownership’ for these 1er crus.
The eight potential premier crus are:
- Les Meix Bas, may be (and in practice always is!) labelled as Les Hervelets
- Les Arvelets, which to keep things interesting may also be sold as Hervelets!
- Les Hervelets which cannot be sold as Les Arvelets or Les Meix Bas! This tends to have a little more marl in the soil. Look out for bottles from Jérôme Galeyrand and recent bottles from Domaine Bart and Domaine du Clos Saint-Louis.
- Clos Napoléon is a 1.8 hectare monopole of Domaine Pierre Gelin. It only fully took on that name in the late 1950’s, before it was called ‘Aux Cheusots or Clos Napoléon’. The name was taken in honour of the sculpture called ‘Napoleon’s Awakening’ by the Burgundian sculptor ‘Rude’ (the same man responsible for the l’Arc de Triomphe) which sits in the woods just at the top of the village.
- Clos du Chapitre is a 4.78 hectare monopole of Domaine Guy Dufouleur, itself part of the rather larget (41 ha) Maison Dufouleur Père et Fils which has recently been acquired by Antonin Rodet. This wine is little reviewed by the main critics, but bottles I’ve tasted (2003 & 2004) have made a very good impression.
- Clos de la Perrière 4 hectare monopole of the Domaine de la Perrière – see this report, it is the only source I’ve seen of 1er cru Fixin blanc.
- En Suchot, which is incorporated into the Clos de la Perrière
- Queue de Hareng, which is also incorporated into the Clos de la Perrière
Interesting ‘villages’ wines include the Clos Marion of Fougeray de Beauclair which most years matches the 1ers for quality, and the wines of Bernard Coillot, Philippe Naddef and Domaine Denis Mortet – though the latter are expensive for Fixin!
Premier cru or village, you can expect meaty, even burly wines in their youth. The softening of their tannins takes a little time, but with that time comes moderation and even a partial acknowledgement of elegance. There is rarely the class of the better wines of Gevrey, but they can be quite comparable to a villages Gevrey. Fixin’s premier crus can certainly compete with the average premier cru labelled Gevrey.
Area under production in 2003 :
- Reds : 89 ha, 14.6 ha being Premier Cru
- Whites : 3.2 ha, 0.5 ha being Premier Cru
Average annual yield (2000-2004):
- Reds : 4,080 hl
- Whites : 130 hl