Domaine Cornu-Camus in Échevronne, Burgundy.

omaine Cornu-Camus up in Échevronne is firmly rooted in both the Hautes-Côtes and the Côte. With six hectares in each they have seen the changes over the past decades. In the Hautes-Côtes quality has gone up and the harvest dates have moved forward.

– Global warming has definitely had an effect on the Hautes-Côtes, says Bernadette Camus. Compared with the 1980’s harvest is about a month earlier now.

Savigny-lès-Beaune, Burgundy.Bernadette Camus and her husband, Pierre Cornu, created the domaine in 1981 by bringing together vines from their two families. Pierre brought vines from his family domaine in Échevronne, while Bernadette brought vines from hers in Savigny-lès-Beaune. The remaining vineyards of the Savigny domaine became Domaine Bruchon-Camus.

In 2008 they were joined by their daughter Lydia, a trained oenologist, and a year later by her husband, Christophe Pertuzot.

Pernand-Vergelesses, Burgundy.– I decided to take on the domaine, because my brother was not interested at all, explains Lydia Cornu. When my parents started they sold everything to negociants, but quite soon they began to bottle themselves.

Échevronne is just up behind Pernand-Vergelesses. It is a village with some 300 inhabitants. There are five winegrowers that bottle their own wine.

– When we started we had one hectare of raspberries, says Bernadette Camus. We sold the raspberries to Cartron, the fruit liqueur producer in Nuits-Saint-Georges. But since raspberries are not suited to mechanised harvesting, we uprooted it all and planted vines instead. It was simply too much work. So the raspberries were sacrificed for the benefit of the vines.

Domaine Cornu-Camus in Échevronne, Burgundy.The Hautes-Côtes has a long history of growing raspberries and, in particular, blackcurrants. After the phylloxera scourge of the late 1800s the growers began for other ways of making a living. Between 1914 and 1926 annual production of blackcurrants in the Hautes-Côtes rose from 254 900 kg to 518 000 kg, raspberries from 20 500 kg to 43 750 kg and redcurrants from 16 800 kg to 22 600 kg.

– When I arrived at the domaine my parents had eight hectares of vines, says Lydia Cornu. I took on another three hectares, mainly in Pernand-Vergelesses. Today we have a total of twelve hectares. We have 15 appellations. Four in white, the rest in red.

Pernand-Vergelesses in Burgundy.The vines in the Côte of Domaine Cornu-Camus are all located in Beaune and just north thereof. There are no grand crus, but three premier crus. In Beaune they have a parcel in one of the premier crus on the Savigny-lès-Beaune side – Clos du Roi. It is on the flatter part next to the Paris motorway. The soil is rich in iron. It is stony, but with a lot of clay. The vines are 35 years old.

Beaune premier cru Clos du Roi.– In Savigny-lès-Beaune we have about 0.4 hectare in Les Charnières. It’s a small premier cru surrounded by Les Lavières on three sides. It’s quite unknown. Les Lavières and Les Guettes, for instance, are much more well-known. There are only a few owners. Bouchard Père & Fils owns a large chunk. And there is also Domaine Maratray-Dubreuil in Ladoix.

Not far from Les Charnières, but in Pernand-Vergelesses, is the third premier cru of Domaine Cornu-Camus, Creux de la Net. While Les Charnières is facing south, Creux de la Net is facing southeast towards the Corton hill. Yields are low, just 30 hl/ha. Creux de la Net can be both red and white, but here it is only red, coming from 60-year-old pinot noir vines.

Savigny-lès-Beaune in Burgundy.– Vineyard practices are along the lines of lutte raisonnée, says Lydia Cornu. We try to keep the yields down. For half the domaine we have grass between the rows of vines. This means there is competition between the vines and the grass. Leaf removal is used in all our parcels to fight disease pressure and ensure good ripening.

In 1928 Ernest Naudin published his book ”Contribution à l’Etude des Hautes-Côtes de la Bourgogne” he noted that the wines of the Hautes-Côtes often were regarded as light and acidic. This reputation stuck for a long time, but in recent years things have changed. A new generation of winegrowers, assisted by a slightly warmer climate, has turned the Hautes-Côtes into a hunting ground for good price/quality ratio wines.

Pernand-Vergelesses in Burgundy.Domaine Cornu-Camus produces three different wines from this part of Burgundy – Bourgogne Hautes-Côtes de Beaune in red and Bourgogne Hautes-Côtes de Nuits in both red and white.

– The vinification is very traditional, says Lydia Cornu. Two weeks in tank at first, then about twelve months in barrel for the village appellations and the premier crus. The Hautes-Côtes stay in tank.

Also the village appellation Pernand-Vergelesses of the domaine comes in both colours. The white comes from Les Vignes Blanches, which is on the west-facing slope just behind the village when you are going towards Échevronne.

– The red village Pernand-Vergelesses comes from two parcels – Les Belles Filles, which is on the east-facing slope opposite of the village, and Sur Herbeux, which is on the Magny-lès-Villers side, says Lydia Cornu. Of the two, Les Belles Filles has more finesse.

© 2015 Ola Bergman