Red wine accounts for more than 70% of the production in the Hautes Côtes. It is the Hautes Côtes de Beaune that bests the Hautes Côtes de Nuits in terms of production volumes – a little over 60:40 is the proportion in its favour.
Historically the Hautes Côtes have been a marginal location for fully ripening pinot, though this is becoming rarer and rarer – the most recent instances of less than 11 degrees of potential alcohol in October being the vintages of 2013 and 2008!
In the most recent vintages, i.e. all those between 2015 and 2019, these vineyard locations have been a positive advantage versus the heat of the Côte d’Or, enabling the production of wines that are ripe but retain their finesse. Something that had an extra emphasis in the 2018 vintage.
Annual production in hectolitres
|Bourgogne Hautes Côtes de Beaune Red||32,557||34,932||26,920|
|Bourgogne Hautes Côtes de Nuits Red||25,946||27,536||21,462|
With rare exceptions, these wines were generous and completely drinkable – but they were also balanced and fresh – there is no rush to drink them. I would say many great ‘Bourgognes’ were produced in the Hautes Côtes in 2018 – probably more-so than in the Côte d’Or. It turned out that my favourite three (pictured below) were all from the Hautes Côtes de Nuits – and they were three wines of very different styles too!
Let’s start the tasting with the Bourgognes Hautes Côtes de Beaunes:
2018 Lebreuil, Bourgogne Hautes Côtes de Beaune ‘Mont Battois’
An unbranded plastic Nomacorc-style seal.
Medium-plus colour. A deep, modestly reductive nose. Mouth-filling, sweet – a little dissolved gas too. Concentrated, very ripe but fresh. Finishing nicely clean. Good wine that will benefit from decanting.
Quite a long DIAM5.
A deeper colour. This nose is ripely-fruited but retains a good freshness. A little structural but also with concentrated, indeed layered, flavour. The finish hold tenaciously – this is really great Bourgogne and excellent wine ignoring the label. Show a little patience if you can.
2018 Sires de Vergy, Bourgogne Hautes Côtes de Beaune
A ‘domaine’ wine. Sealed with an unbranded cork.
Modest colour – medium, medium-plus colour. Higher tones mix with a leathery-style of fruit though swirling does release some more attractive floral anecdotes. Sits well in the mouth with a sweeter red fruit, slightly roast in style – which (for me) is better than over-ripe. The finish is the best part, wide with good complexity and quite tasty. So, a wine that’s good in parts…
2018 Moillard, Bourgogne Hautes Côtes de Beaune ‘Les Allouettes’
Medium-plus colour. A more attractive, slightly spiced aromatic. Fresh, quite structural wine with a strong burst of flavour as you head into the finish. The last notes are attractive – but in the context of the vintage this is just a little austere and would benefit from a little patience.
Unbranded cork seal.
Lots of colour. This has a punchy aromatic of concentrated, ripe, but not too ripe fruit – just edged with a modest floral component. Feels mobile and fresh in the mouth – nicely shaped and structured. Freshly finishing with a peak of flavour. The oak is showing just a little – but I have to say currently – attractively so. Excellent wine, great Bourgogne.
2018 Bourgogne-Devaux, Bourgogne Hautes Côtes de Beaune ‘La Perrière’
Unbranded cork seal.
Paler than it’s stablemate, the previous wine. More floral, more saline – not as powerful a nose – but I like this more. Mouth-filling, open, retaining a lighter feel than ‘Le Clou’ and the oak is hardly visible here. A fine, mouth-watering finish. If you are patient, the Clou is probably the better wine to cellar – this is nicer today. Excellent!
2018 Bourgogne-Devaux, Bourgogne Hautes Côtes de Beaune ‘Pussey’
Perhaps an homage to Honor Blackman? Unbranded cork seal.
Another with a lighter colour. A wide, easy, faintly spiced Côte de Beaune fruit – nice. A more saline attack from this wine – with just an accent to the texture from the tannin – but barely any grain. Nicely finishing with herby and saline components. Excellent Bourgogne again.
2018 Château de Laborde, Bourgogne Hautes Côtes de Beaune ‘En Cuillery’
A decent length of unsigned DIAM5 seels this bottle.
Modest colour for the vintage – medium, medium-plus colour. High-toned red fruit and a little oak greats the nose. Fresh – a wine with good energy. The flavours are mobile, slightly mineral and lip-smacking. Far from the ripe vernacular of the vintage. A very good wine, indeed an excellent Bourgogne.
2018 Labry, Bourgogne Hautes Côtes de Beaune
A very modest length of ‘technical’ cork, but domaine-branded.
Medium-plus colour. Hmm, now that’s an intriguing nose – high-toned, floral, indeed perfumed – but a little non-standard. Wide, flavour that matches the nose – a smoky, almost minty, creamy accent to the fruit – it must be from the barrels – yet it is very tasty indeed. I would even say delicious, but it’s certainly an individual!
Not very long, but a domaine-branded cork to seal the bottle.
Here is plenty of colour. A nose that’s fresh, even a little floral, but a little narrow – it goes deep – so more a vertical nose. Mouth-filling, a little lush and certainly attractive. Not facile though, behind the easy fruit is some proper structure and a little growing presence of tannin. A super finish that hold very well indeed. This is a great Bourgogne – but also one to be patient with, if looking for the full reward.
A long, domaine-branded cork.
Medium-plus colour. Hmm – that’s an invitation; open, faintly spiced, almost cushioned red fruit. A little gas in this one. Mouth-filling a little structural but the flavour filling all the cracks and spaces. A lovely finish. Have a little patience, but this is another great Bourgogne.
Unbranded cork seal.
Medium, medium-plus colour. A faint undertow of oak but the top notes on this nose are finely floral. Mouth-filling, nice energy and a mouth-watering style. The finish is completely delicious – juicy even. Bravo. Such a great Bourgogne.
Bourgognes Hautes Côtes de Nuits:
2018 Moillard, Bourgogne Hautes Côtes de Nuits ‘Les Vignes Hautes’
Not a deep colour for the vintage, more medium, medium-plus. The nose is modest intensity with a little spice to the red fruit – it’s a good invitation to take a sip. Supple, mouth-filling, a little touch of tannin but with practically no grain. A little floral lift to the finishing flavour – and it’s quite long too. Not overtly structural so easy, tasty with good depth of flavour. That’s a fine Bourgogne.
Noted as ‘monopole.’ A longer domaine-branded cork.
Deeper coloured – more the 2018 vernacular of colour here. Directly, this is an impressive nose of darker fruit and much floral complexity. More structural in shape, the fruit favours are higher-toned, darker and floral inflected. There’s a little youth to this wine – it will certainly be better with a little patience but this is already a great drink for a Bourgogne – fresh, complex and deliciously flavoured – a great, open, florality in the finish too. Bravo!
2018 Thevenot-Le Brun, Bourgogne Hautes Côtes de Nuits ‘Clos du Vignon’
A longer, domaine-branded, DIAM5 Origine!
A colour that’s intermediate to the previous two wines. Much redder fruit than the Michel Gros wine and almost candied – certainly a ‘sweeter’ impression. Hmm, that’s rather nice, sweeter, starting silky before a little tannin makes a ‘velvet modification’ to the texture. The middle flavours have good intensity and a slight herb to them. Long, but narrower finishing than the last. Good characterful Bourgogne.
Medium-plus colour. Ooh – this is different; a faint funkiness, probably some whole-cluster fermentation here, becoming more and more (rose) floral with aeration – I like! Red-fruited, some energy that’s exacerbated by a little prickle of CO2 – slowly you get to see a nice texture – more velvet than silk, but the tiny grain to the tannin is completely ripe. Wide, complex, finishing. I love the whole-cluster complexity that this wine delivers – but it will certainly repay a couple of years patience in the cellar. Bravo!
A domaine-branded cork amalgam seal.
Medium-plus colour. The brighter purity of destemmed fruit – red and very attractive. A tiny touch of CO2, modest tannin too – the line of flavour being fresh and direct before opening and becoming more complex and floral in the finish. Another really great Bourgogne from 2018!
2018 Michel Gros, Bourgogne Hautes Côtes de Nuits
A longer domaine-branded cork.
Not as deeply coloured as their Fontaine Saint Martin – but not far behind. A little less aromatic impact than that wine too, but still there’s a beautiful floral component the darker-coloured fruit here. Open and fresh – a lovely open and energetic character to this wine. A little more herbed and saline in the finish – but long and interesting. Simply excellent wine.
A domaine wine, sealed with an unbranded DIAM5.
Plenty of colour, but not a deep colour for the vintage or versus a few of these others. This nose needs some air to open in the glass, but it’s worth your patience – complex, faintly floral, I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s a little whole-cluster in this perfumed wine – but it’s not obvious. Mouth-filling, beautifully textured – just a faint velvet to the tannin – holding very well too, beautifully flavoured. Great Bourgogne that you can certainly keep if you wish!
2018 Château de Laborde, Bourgogne Hautes Côtes de Nuits ‘K’
Certainly an ‘ambitiously weighted’ bottle. The seal is an unbranded DIAM5.
Medium-plus colour. A higher-toned aromatic than most – swirling makes this more attractive and floral. Wide on the palate with freshness and energy. Depth of darker-fruited flavour and a little herb complexity in that depth too. Holding a long finish. Excellent Bourgogne.
2018 Michel Gros, Bourgogne Hautes Côtes de Nuits ‘Au Vallon’
A longer domaine-branded cork.
Again, lots of depth to the colour. The nose is much higher-toned, of dark fruit and almost suggesting volatility – I don’t find delicate flowers here. Mouth-filling, sweeter. The texture modestly accented by the ripe tannin. It’s a super finish – rather complex and textural. Overall a riper and more 2018 Côte d’Or style of presentation. I much prefer the other two wines presented by this domaine.
2018 Louis Max, Bourgogne Hautes Côtes de Nuits
Modest length cork-agglomerate seal.
A faint reduction fades with swirling – it’s still a compact nose but of floral freshness. Round, red-fruited, even layered flavour. The ripe tannin is just an anecdote – hardly any grain. The finish is both complex and just a little floral. This, more than most, will benefit from a little cellar time. Very good Bourgogne.