Nuits-Saint-Georges

Nuits-Saint-Georges, which gives its name to the Côte de Nuits (“the Nuits hillside”) of the northern Côte d’Or, is a sizeable town and something of a winemaking hub in the heartland of Burgundy. As wine region, or appellation, Nuits-Saint-Georges is known for relatively powerful, complex red wines from the Pinot Noir grape variety. This represents 97 percent of production, with a small amount of white wine made from Chardonnay.

Nuits-Saint-Georges vineyards
In terms of surface area, with 320 hectares (790 acres) of village and premier cru vineyards (the latter cover 147 hectares/363 acres), Nuits-Saint-Georges is the second largest of the 26 commune titles in the Côte d’Or, fractionally smaller than Beaune (its southern counterpart in the Côte d’Or that gives its name to the Côte de Beaune).

There are also around 315 hectares (778 acres) of vineyards within the boundaries the Nuits-Saint-Georges commune which produce regional wines (Bourgogne).

In addition to covering land immediately north and south of the town, the appellation also includes the vineyards of its neighbor, Premeaux-Prissey, where a quarter of the premier cru climats are located. There are 41 premier cru climats belonging to the appellation and wines made from their grapes, and conforming to the strictest of the Nuits-Saint-Georges appellation rules, may claim the title Nuits-Saint-Georges Premier Cru. While the town does not boast any grand cru sites, its many premier cru vineyards are rated among the finest in the district.

Although Dijon, to the north, is Burgundy’s administrative center, and Beaune, to the south, is the wine capital, Nuits-Saint-Georges holds its own as an important viticultural location. Many long-established wine merchants and negociants have made their businesses and homes here.

History
The town has had its own Nuits-Saint-Georges appellation since September 1936, but has been the source of respected red wines for the best part of a millennium. The Saint-Georges vineyard, in particular, just south of the town, has been known as a source of excellent wines by locals and royalty alike for many hundreds of years.

As was the fashion of the period, in the 1890s the town (at that point called just Nuits, which comes from the Latin for walnuts, or “Nutium”) appended its most renowned vineyard to its name, creating the modern Nuits-Saint-Georges.

Puligny-Montrachet and Vosne-Romanée are two other well-known commune names which have been formed in this way and the majority of villages along the Côte d’Or slope have followed this convention.

The Hospices de Nuits
Although less famous than the longer-established Hospices de Beaune, Nuits-Saint-Georges has its own annual charity wine auction: the Hospices de Nuits. This event, which has been running since 1960, takes place at the end of March rather than in November like its Beaune counterpart.

This timing makes it slightly less traditional (November is the release date for many French wines, including Beaujolais Nouveau) but actually more practical for assessing the still-young wines of the previous vintage. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the wines from the Saint-Georges vineyards generally command the highest prices.