Get to grips with the confusing layout of Corton-Charlemagne, and you’ll find one of Burgundy’s greatest whites, says Stephen Brook. At its heart lies one of the great Burgundy domaines – Bonneau du Martray

Get to grips with the confusing layout of Corton-Charlemagne, and you’ll find one of Burgundy’s greatest whites, says Stephen Brook. At its heart lies one of the great Burgundy domaines – Bonneau du Martray

Corton-Charlemagne: a grand name for a grand wine. Legend has it that the great emperor himself noted how the snow melted early on the hill of Corton and deduced it would be an excellent spot for grape-growing. Would that it was so simple…

The hierarchical layering of vineyard sites in Burgundy (grand cru, premier cru, village) is a model of clarity, but can come unstuck. Corton is a model of confusion, and nobody seems clear about what can be grown where and under what name.

The grand cru appellation of Corton curls around the hill just north of Beaune, crossing communal boundaries as it does so. It departs from Ladoix-Serrigny, spans south-facing slopes in Aloxe-Corton, and retreats around the hill to face Pernand-Vergelesses.