Part of the Côte de Nuits, Nuits-Saint-Georges lies at the heart of the Burgundy wine region in the east of France. The Nuits-Saint-Georges appellation is permitted for production of red and white wines, with Pinot Noir and Chardonnay the primary grapes grown in the area.
While it may seem that the French word for night gives Nuits-Saint-George and the Côte de Nuits their names, “nuits” in this regard actually comes from the Latin word for walnuts.
The Côte de Nuits received its name from Nuits-Saint-Georges, as it is the area’s largest city and one of the main trading points in the region.
Viticulture was introduced to the region by the Romans during the settlement of France, then called Gaul, at around 200 AD. The region was soon known for producing high quality wines within the Roman Empire, but unfortunately many barrels were lost during the treacherous transportation process from the narrow strip of land where the wines were produced to the main road.
In the Middle Ages, monks were the main producers throughout the region, due to the religious affiliations with wine, as it was used in Catholic mass to represent the blood of Jesus. In the 1400s, Nuits-Saint-Georges was already gaining a reputation for producing quality wines.
In the 1600s, the bourgeoisie began taking over the wineries in the area, which had previously been owned by the church, and began producing their own wines. Nuits-Saint-Georges gained even more in popularity when during the reign of King Louis XIV, his personal physician recommended that he drink wines from that area only, saying that they had specific health properties. The region used this as a marketing campaign, boosting both its reputation and the local economy.
For the Paris Exposition Universelle in 1855, Napoleon III requested an official classification for Bordeaux wines that could then be put on display at the event. This was highly successful, and for the 1862 International Exhibition in London, a similar classification was developed for wines from the Côte de Nuits and the Côte de Beaune. This served as the basis for Nuits-Saint-Georges’ appellation, which it received in 1936.
Since then, Nuits-Saint-Georges has continued its rich history of winemaking to become the top of its class in Pinot Noir production.
The area has a continental climate, with cold winters and warm summers, and is also one of the most northerly regions for red wine production. The climate is moderated by the Saone river, but is considered to be at a “climatic crossroads”, as it experiences weather from the Baltic sea, Atlantic and the Mediterranean, which makes the weather, and wines, highly variable.
The soil in the region is primarily a rocky limestone with silty deposits.
Nuits-Saint-Georges covers about 320 hectares, which includes both the village and the vineyards. Around 1.7 million bottles of wine are produced annually, approximately 95% of which is Pinot Noir (a red wine), and 3% of which is Chardonnay (a white wine).
Pinot Noir is the primary grape grown in Nuits-Saint-Georges.
Pinot Noir grapes tend to do well in cooler climates, like that of Burgundy, and are primarily associated with the region. It is notoriously difficult to cultivate as it is prone to certain hazards, such as frost, powdery mildew, leaf roll and fanleaf viruses. However, Pinot Noir wines are some of the most popular red wines in the world and many vineyards and consumers alike, believe that the wines produced here are well worth the effort.
The AOC regulations for Nuits-Saint-Georges allow for blended wines, though this is done very rarely. For red wines from the region, Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc, and Pinot Gris are all allowed as accessory grapes (although only up to 15%), with the other 85% being made up of Pinot Noir grapes. For white wines, Chardonnay and Pinot Blanc are permitted. However, it is much more likely that a Chardonnay from Nuits-Saint-Georges is 100% pure Chardonnay and not a blend.
Pinot Noirs from Nuits-Saint-Georges are typically full bodied, with aromas of cherry, blackcurrant and truffle. They are recognised as having an intense crimson hue.
White wines, on the other hand, have aromas of brioche, honey and white flowers.
The Saint-Georges vineyard, from which Nuits-Saint-Georges gets its name, is one of the most famous in the region, while other notable producers include Domaine de l’Arlot, Thibault Liger-Belair, Domaine Sylvain Cathiard, and Emmanuel Rouget.
Domaine de l’Arlot, which is just outside of Nuits-Saint-Georges, was founded in the 1700s and produces mostly Pinot Noir wine, as well as small amounts of Chardonnay. It has had organic farming since 2000, and sustainable since 2003.