The church in Chitry-le-Fort.

he road that runs straight through Chitry-le-Fort was once the main road between Burgundy and Champagne. This village halfway between Saint Bris-le-Vineux and Courgis, 14 kilometres southeast of Auxerre and twelve kilometres southwest of Chablis, occupies the end of a valley that opens up towards the southwest. There are some 20 winegrowers in the village, working a vignoble that covers around 140 hectares. The principal appellation is the one that bears the name of the village – Bourgogne Chitry. This is a regional appellation that includes red, white and rosé wine. Of the 64.79 hectares that are planted 38.55 hectares are white, from chardonnay, and the remaining 26.24 hectares split between red and rosé, both from pinot noir.

The Bourgogne Chitry appellation was created in 1993. During the first part of the 20th century the wines had been marketed under names such as Chablis Village and Bourgogne des environs de Chablis. The Bourgogne Chitry appellation covers 286 hectares, all located within the commune, but only around a quarter of this is planted. In addition to this there are vineyards for Bourgogne Aligoté, Bourgogne Grand Ordinaire and Bourgogne. Like the rest of the Auxerrois area this is close to the northernmost limit for cultivating the pinot noir vines successfully. As a result the reds tend to be on the lighter side. The whites, and especially the aligoté, have a good reputation.

Chitry-le-Fort, Burgundy.In the past Chitry's claim to fame was the sacy grape. This white variety is rarely vinified on its own – most of it is destined for the production of Crémant de Bourgogne – and today there are few vines left around the village. Domaine Edmond Chalmeau et Fils in Chitry makes a Bourgogne Grand Ordinaire that is pure sacy.

For a long time Chitry-le-Fort was a divided village. From the 13th century and onwards the main road separated two different fiefdoms. In the beginning this often meant that the inhabitants had different sets of regulations that ruled their lives. In 1381 they managed to harmonise the regulations for the two Chitrys, but the village remained divided. The upper part, south of the main road, belonged to the Comte de Tonnerre. The lower part, north of the main road, belonged to the Comte d'Auxerre.

The church in Chitry-le-Fort dates back to the 13th century. When coming from Saint Bris-le-Vineux it looks very much like the rest of the churches in the region. But when arriving from the opposite direction, from Courgis, it is a whole different thing. This was never a fortified village. Instead the villagers had their church fortified, adding a large circular tower at the opposite end of the church tower. The work took 16 years and was finished in 1380.

Over the centuries the village's name has gone from Baselica Domi Valeri in the sixth century, via Castriacus in the tenth century, Chistriacum in the 13th century and Christri in the 15th century, to Chitry in the 16th century.

© 2013 Ola Bergman