The Terroirs of the Burgundy Wine District
A wide, deep fracture defines the morphology of the vineyards of the Côte. This ancient fault (35 million years old) corresponds to the western border of the rift valley of the Saône and separates the limestone plateaus of Burgundy from the clave plain of Bresse. According to the nature and the age of the sedimentary Jurassic subsoil, we can distinguish the Côte de Nuits to the north from the Côte de Beaune to the south. Moreover, the vineyards of the Côte enjoy maximum sun exposure and are sheltered from harsh west winds.
The Côte de Nuits
The Middle Jurassic of the composition of the Côte de Nuits is essentially limestone: crinoidal limestone rich in fossil fragments (Bajoccian) in the Bonnes Mares vineyard at Morey-Saint-Denis, Ostrea acuminate marls (with small oysters fossils), Prémeaux limestone with chert nodules, and granular white limestone of Comblanchien (Bathonian). The slope of the Côte de Nuits is punctuated by short valleys called "combes" that cut deep into the hillside (the combes of Vosne-Romanée, Chambolle-Musigny, Gevrey-Chambertin, etc.); perpendicular to these combes are large tills composed of the boulders and cobbles resulting from glacial erosion during the last glacial period. The presence of these tills increases the diversity of the soils, slopes and expositions of the Côte de Nuits.
The Côte de Beaune
The limestone and marl of the Côte de Beaune date from the Middle Jurassic and especially the Late Jurassic. These included the limestone formations of Chassagne, Pholadomya beeline marl (Bathonian), the rock of Corton and Ladoix (Callovian), the marls of Pernand and Saint-Romain (Oxfordian), and the limestone of Mantoux and the Mountain of Beaune. Throughout the Côte de Beaune the juxtaposition of limestone and more or less siliceous marl encourages great white wines like Meursault and Montrachet to flourish in close proximity with subtle reds such as Volnay and Pommard. For example, on the hill of Corton, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay sit side by side on Callovian limestone and the marl of Pernand, respectively.
Extract from The Wines of Burgundy (Sylvain Pitiot and Jean-Charles Servant)