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Bourgogne Hautes Côtes – Rethinking the future of Bourgogne

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Bourgogne Hautes Côtes de Beaune and Bourgogne Hautes Côtes de Nuits stand out as the Régionale AOCs leading the future of one of the world's most iconic wine regions.

Increasingly turning heads among wine buyers and sommeliers worldwide, Bourgogne Hautes Côtes de Beaune and Bourgogne Hautes Côtes de Nuits are emerging from a period of seeming dormancy to become two of the most exciting Bourgogne appellations. Seeking sites that can respond to the challenges – environmental as well as economic – of the future, winemakers from Bourgogne and beyond have found a hotbed of experimentation as well as an invaluable viticultural resource in a changing climate.

Affordable luxury

Although Bourgogne has long earned its place as one of the world’s leading fine wine regions, producing labels with an incredible historical and viticultural pedigree, the region is not limited to its most iconic and pricey appellations. Alongside the renowned Village and Grand Cru AOCs are a number of regional denominations yielding expressive wines that remain affordable against the backdrop of inflation and of the skyrocketing prices of their aristocratic counterparts. Among them are Bourgogne Hautes Côtes de Beaune and Bourgogne Hautes Côtes de Nuits, whose idiosyncrasy and potential for quality has long been recognised by locals but not always fully understood by outsiders. Until now.

Once much more densely planted and prized for the recognisable freshness of the wines, the Hautes Côtes experienced a challenging period following the phylloxera blight and the socio-political hardship of the early 20th century. During this unfortunate time, many vineyards were grubbed up and never replanted. Today, these are rediscovered ‘lands of opportunity’ offering the rare possibility for further plantings. As such, the Bourgogne Hautes Côtes de Beaune and Bourgogne Hautes Côtes de Nuits are dynamic appellations straddling the past and the future with ease. This is largely thanks to a vibrant community of growers and winemakers who are willing to explore the untapped potential of these terroirs.

Echevronne in the Côtes de Beaune region of Bourgogne

Echevronne in the Côtes de Beaune – © BIVB/Michel Joly

Future resilience

The vineyards of Hautes Côtes de Beaune and Hautes Côtes de Nuits are located in the hills above the escarpment of Côte d’Or at an altitude of between 290 and 485 metres. Elevation and the cooling winds that blow through the valleys carved into the Jurassic limestone plateau, extend the growing season. This in turn yields fruit with higher acidity, finer aromas and lower alcohol potential than that produced in Bourgogne’s more classical, lower-altitude AOCs. Although the longer, tougher maturation was, until recently, perceived as a hindrance, it is now a valuable asset in the face of rising temperatures and water shortages.

‘I believe the Hautes Côtes are among Bourgogne’s vineyards for the future,’ says Thibaut Marion, owner and winemaker at Maison Seguin-Manuel. ‘Thanks to climate change, the grapes now mature more consistently. The high limestone content of the soil, on the other hand, continues to impart a unique freshness, verticality and depth.’ It is this enduring potential for balance and elegance that makes the Hautes Côtes such exciting regions for winemakers as they explore alternatives in face of climate change. ‘Until now we’ve been buying grapes [in Hautes Côtes de Beaune] that we vinify,’ continues Marion. ‘But we envision managing vineyards directly, if and when the opportunity arises.’

An unfortunate natural challenge is now opening new possibilities for and generating renewed interest in two areas that have long been pioneers. Created in the 1960s, the Bourgogne Hautes Côtes paved the way for other geographical denominations, highlighting a more diverse and accessible side of Bourgogne. Now, they position themselves as the region’s future, thanks to a thriving community of winemakers – passionate locals as well as maverick outsiders – one that conveys the same sense of vibrancy and powerful elegance as the wines produced in the two appellations.


10 Bourgogne Hautes Côtes de Beaune and Bourgogne Hautes Côtes de Nuits to try

Tasted and scored by the Decanter team. Grouped by style and ordered by score in descending order. 

Domaine du Château Philippe le Hardi Bourgogne Hautes Côtes de Beaune, Les Foires Blanc 2020

Domaine du Château Philippe le Hardi, Bourgogne Hautes Côtes de Beaune, Les Foires 2020
94

Elegantly flinty with a firm mineral backbone that carries it effortlessly, like a muscular ballerina. Intriguing notes of lime zest, crispy Asian pear and apple peel add allure to the mineral exactness. Terra Vitis and HVE3 certified. Alc 13%

Albert Bichot, Bourgogne Hautes Côtes de Nuits, 2020

Albert Bichot, Bourgogne Hautes Côtes de Nuits, 2020
93

There’s a particular subtlety to the intensity of this wine, expressive without ever losing the spring in its step. A core of white orchard fruit is coated by almond flake and a fine layer of sweet spice. Promising development in the next decade. Alc 12.5%

Domaine Thevenot Le Brun, Bourgogne Hautes Côtes de Nuits, Clos du Vignon 2020

Domaine Thevenot Le Brun, Bourgogne Hautes Côtes de Nuits, Clos du Vignon 2021
93

Strong elegance here, with fleshy fruit and an affirmative mineral backbone. White grapefruit, pear and mildly toasted almonds rest on the mid-palate with pleasant weight. An acid kick follows, driving the medium finish, lingering almonds and apple. Alc 13%

Domaine Denis Carré, Bourgogne Hautes Côtes de Beaune 2020

Domaine Denis Carré, Bourgogne Hautes Côtes de Beaune 2020
92

A fine, soft acid line drives, with subtlety, the flavours of yellow apple, crunchy pineapple and peach. The delicate veil of almond and white toast supports the creaminess of the mid palate. Alc 13%

Jean Chartron, Bourgogne Hautes Côtes de Beaune, Vieilles Vignes 2020

Jean Chartron, Bourgogne Hautes Côtes de Beaune, Vieilles Vignes 2020
92

Filigreed aromas of yellow apple, lemon zest, apple blossom and blanched almonds show the elegant complexity of a classic. The soft acidity and poised palate confirm this quiet, unpretentious elegance, with each element delivered with balance and in measure. Alc 13%

Edouard Delaunay, Bourgogne Hautes Côtes de Nuits, Charmont 2021

Edouard Delaunay, Bourgogne Hautes Côtes de Nuits, Charmont 2021
95

With its fine acid line and crunchy red fruit, this offers an elegant drinking journey, at once inviting and complex. The fine mineral tannins, subtle smokiness and savoury lining of dried Mediterranean herbs compliment each other, offering a balanced, layered palate. Alc 12.5%

Seguin-Manuel, Bourgogne Hautes Côtes de Beaune 2020

Seguin-Manuel, Bourgogne Hautes Côtes de Beaune 2020
93

Shy but seductive nose of cranberry, wild strawberries and cherries. Playful interplay between crunchy red fruit and blood orange zestiness. Fleshy grapefruit and pomegranate reiterate this freshness, energy and juiciness. Firm but fine tannins. Alc 13%

Domaine Boris Champy, Bourgogne Hautes Côtes de Beaune, Clou 377 2020

Domaine Boris Champy, Bourgogne Hautes Côtes de Beaune, Clou 377 2020
93

Interesting, maverick red, really expressive and textural. Unapologetic in its earthy appeal, with a strong core of dark fruit, smoked bacon and petrichor. The deep, zesty blood orange juiciness gives it an outstanding energy and vibrancy. Memorable and delicious. Organic and Biodynamic (Demeter) certified. Alc 13.5%

domaine_se_bastien_magnien_clos_de_la_perrie_re_bourgogne_hautes_co_tes_de_beaune_rouge_2021

Domaine Sébastien Magnien, Bourgogne Hautes Côtes de Beaune, Clos de la Perrière 2021
90

Intense luscious nose of poached red cherries, raspberry and juicy red plum. Heady but with an elegant floral lining. The fruit is less defined on the palate but the firm, gravelly tannins and mineral texture give it power and length. Still quite coiled but with good potential in years to come. Alc 13.5%

Domaine Dominique Guyon, Bourgogne Hautes Côtes de Nuits, Les Dames de Vergy 2020

Domaine Dominique Guyon, Bourgogne Hautes Côtes de Nuits, Les Dames de Vergy 2020
89

A fine acid line carries the lush black fruit. Intense black cherry, blackberry and plum flavours are driven by vibrant mid-palate freshness. Medium zesty finish with a hint of savoury spice. A perfect companion to midweek dinners. Alc 14%


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