Edges of Burgundy: Pernand-Vergelesses
The Edges of Burgundy series continues today.
More so than any of the other villages covered in this Edges of Burgundy series, Pernand-Vergelesses qualifies for its Edges status thanks to both its red wine and its white wines. Don't be surprised by this: P-V lies just beneath Corton, the great hill and only village (a small exception in Musigny aside) capable of making Grand Cru wine from both Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. With two grapes for the price of one village, this is an area worthy of your attention. Let's get started.
Where is Pernand-Vergelesses?
When you drive from the Cote de Nuits into the Cote de Beaune along the N74, the first thing you'll see on your right is the Hill of Corton. Behind that hill, out of site from the road, is the village of Pernand-Vergelesses. The village's vineyards are all to its South, sandwiched in between Savigny-les-Beaune and Corton.
Here's an oddity: One famous vineyard site in the village boundaries of Pernand-Vergelesses is called Corton Charlemagne. We're sure you've heard of that. But the INAO ignores the town boundaries and lumps it in with the other parts of Corton. As a result, Pernand-Vergelesses has no Grand Crus. Even though one of the grandest of all crus is technically in Pernand-Vergelesses. Ah, France!
So Why Should I care about Pernand-Vergelesses?
As usual, just looking at a map can teach you a lot. On one side, it touches Grand Crus in Corton. On the other, it boarders Aux Vergelesses, which, if you're paying attention to my earlier posts, you know is one of my favorite spots in Savigny-les-Beaune!
But for some reason (its funny name perhaps?) this village is just not all that well known. But it is an authentic village, in the heart of the Cote de Beaune that can boast truly great Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.
Anything I should know about the Terroir?
I tend to experience Pernand as more Corton than Savigny, and this is due to terroir expression. The soils are red-colored, rich with iron, on a base of limestone.
Iron is a very important factor to understand in Burgundy's terroir. It is not very common, but the impact is great: iron oxides are found in quite some concentration in Vosne-Romanee. The result, as Peter Wasserman once swore to me (while admittedly not a scientist, he has experienced more Burgundy than most), is the Asian spice so typical of Vosne. Similarly, parts of Pernand are also known for a spice component. If you've had Chandon de Briaille's Ile de Vergelesses you'll know exactly what I'm talking about. It's all about iron (even with just the science of experience).
And by the way: Asian spice notes are not monopolized by red wine. It occurs in Chardonnays as well (and other grape varieties express it in other regions as well)!
What are the best vineyards sites?
Really, there is only one that stands out as head and shoulders above the rest, and that's the above-mentioned Ile de Vergelesses. There are whispers about promoting this one to Grand Cru, and it's great for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay!
The other crus you come across are Fichots, Les Vergelesses, Sous Fretille, and (thanks to Louis Jadot) La Croix de Pierre. I've had many fine bottles from all these sites.
How about producers?
Like so many of these Edgy villages, there are not a lot of local specialists, but there are a few.
Rollin is great; the Fretilles Blanc is killer, very spicy Chardonnay. Their village Pernand-Vergeleses Blanc is amazing, with real Corton Charlemagne-like flavors. The reds -- especially the Fichot -- can age quite nicely.
Delarche is a P-V specialist that provided me with one of my earliest Burgundy mini-epiphanies. I bought a bottle of their village Pernand-Vergelesses Rouge perhaps 15 years ago from Sherry-Lehmann and loved it. I've since discovered other bottles of the exact same wine and enjoyed drinking it on numerous occasions!
I've had great and inexpensive bottles from Regis Pavelot (cousins of Jean-Marc) but have yet to see them imported here. Dubreuil-Fontaine is also solidly worth a mention.
Chandon de Briailles (based in Savigny) is not a Pernand-Vergelesses specialist, but their Ile de Vergelesses is very plausibly their signature wine. Special stuff to buy in every vintage!
So where do I start?
Let's keep this simple.
Honestly, I feel like I could spend the next three months happily drinking nothing but these three wines! Enjoy your exploring!