The Côte Chalonnaise continues as a regular chain of hills along the same lines as the Côte d’Or to its north. But the countryside is much less uniform and turns into a jumble of limestone slopes on which vineyards appear amongst orchards and pasture. Local weather patterns are equally varied, giving importance to long proven zones like Givry, where most all of the production is Pinot Noir.
The Ragot family has winemaking roots that go all the way back to the mid 1700s. Presently it’s young Nicolas Ragot at the helm of this family domaine considered to be in the top tier of all producers in the Côte Chalonnaise. After studying winemaking in Beaune and work in South Africa, Nicolas moved back to the family estate in 2002, eventually succeeding his father Jean-Paul in 2008.
Nicolas manages a little over 22 acres that includes a fair share of 40+ year old vines. Cultivation is approached lutte raisonee, albeit with one hectare farmed organically with plans to expand that across all their holdings in the future. All of the fruit is hand-harvested and only indigenous yeasts are used.
Domaine Ragot “La Grande Berge” (Givry, Premier Cru 2014)
Special 6-pack price: $226 (~$38/bottle)
This Premier Cru is located in the south of the appellation, along a rocky, east-facing slope with excellent drainage. The Ragots have five parcels here, totaling a bit over five acres with vines varying between 15, 30 and 50 years. Aging takes place in French oak (30% new) for between 12 and 15 months. Grande Berge produces wines that are known for their subtlety and finesse and this 2014 is a prime example. A glass is bursting with aromatics, the foremost a heady floral component reminiscent of Chambolle-Musigny. Alongside are fresh berries, red licorice, and baked stone. A sip is simultaneously concentrated and spry, with a long, energetic finish. Drink now or squirrel some away in the cellar for another four to seven years.
Other Wines Available from Domaine Ragot
Domaine Ragot “Clos Jus” (Givry, Premier Cru 2014)
Special 6-pack price: ~$42
Representing the top cuvée from Ragot, the Premier Cru Clos Jus vineyard lies at the very top end of Givry. This bottling comes from a 2.5 acre parcel on a slope of red clay and limestone that faces due east and was planted in 1990. Aging takes place in French oak (30% new) for between 12 and 15 months. This wine will reward the patient drinker after a few years in the cellar and continue to develop for most of a decade.
Domaine Ragot “Teppe des Cheneves” (Givry 2014)
Special 6-pack price: ~$36
A new parcel for the Ragot family. The vines were planted in 2009 in a vineyard that lies along nearly two acres that had been previously covered by forest. After clearing the east-facing slope, the Ragots planted Pinot Noir in high density on clay and limestone soils between 950 and 1,050 feet altitude. This is a wine more forward than Clos Jus and lighter on its feet than La Grande Berge.