Back IN REVIEW: Appreicating the Often Overlooked 1er Crus of Nuits-St.-Georges

Published on 23 May, 2024

Looking for a myriad of expressions of terroirs in the Côte de Nuits and good value? Impossible? Nuits-St.- Georges may be your answer, as I have found it to be a satisfying hunting ground for fine Burgundy – often from top producers – for less.

At our recent Fine Wine Experience Burghound Symposium, Allen Meadows took us through a tour south to north in an appreciation of the often overlooked premier crus of Nuits-St.-Georges, at the Sukhothai hotel in Shanghai last month.

If forced to give these three sectors their elevator pitch, how could we simplify? At least as a starting point we might say that the southern sector, by the village of Prémeaux-Prissey, produces wines of elegance, the central sector, south of the town of Nuits-St-Georges, produces the classic, more ‘broad-shouldered’ (Allen’s descriptor), often powerful and long-lived wines, while the northern sector, between Nuit-St-Georges and Vosne-Romanée, the more refined, more Vosne-like wines. Of course, we spent 2½ hours on this, in detail, as Allen displayed his usual mastery of the subject, while we tasted 12 examples, and discussed individual terroirs in depth. As you can imagine, its as complicated as any other Burgundy subject, but I think this is a useful starting point. As you will see below, I have offered a few of Allen’s comments on the individual vineyards, and they demonstrate that some of the exceptions virtually contradict this starting point! To that, I would add that the skill and approach of the vigneron makes quite a difference. My own view then is to start your exploration of Nuits-St.-Georges with producers you know and like.

Unusual in the Côte de Nuits, Nuits-St.-Georges allows both whites and reds at 1er cru level, though in practice whites only make up about 4% of that production. There is a lot to explore. We picked out 12 red 1er cru examples from south to north. Below are some of Allen’s comments on vineyards, and my tasting notes from the masterclass.

Below that you will find our current Nuits-St.-Georges 1er Cru stock for you to explore, available for immediate purchase and delivery.

2011 Nuits-St.-Georges 1er Cru ‘Clos de la Maréchale’, Domaine J-F Mugnier
Allen – bought by the Mugnier family in 1902, made by Faiveley 1950-2003, and by Mugnier since 2004, the vineyard sits on mostly sand and silt giving elegant wines no matter who makes them. Thiis not classic “Nuits St.-Georges”, but it is classic Premeaux.
Clear garnet with a mature fine appearance; a weet-savoury aroma, meaty, a touch of leather, some spice notes; the palate is sweet and meaty, tangy, a really savoury style, supple and long. With air in the glass that meatiness grew, this is open, mature and ready to drink. There’s good flesh, brightness in the acidity, it is morish, very into the umami spectrum, there’s a sweet-savoury balance like a meat stew with fruit in it, but it is also a bit sullen in tone. 
89 – Linden Wilkie

2016 Nuits-St.-Georges 1er Cru ‘Clos des Argillières’, Domaine Prieuré-Roch
Allen – the clos is inside Les Argillières, and the clue is in the name – there is a lot of clay here.
Clear garnet; sweet fruit and spices on the nose, along with a menthol-mint like note; the palate is lush, floral and spicy, with a gentle grip, slick and tangy and rich. With air the freshness really came through, with real lift from the aromatic top notes of mint. There’s really zingy acidity, and this lifts an imprecise but complex amalgam of red and dark fruit, a little bit of VA here too. This has a gourmand feel to it.
90 – Linden Wilkie

2011 Nuits-St.-Georges 1er Cru ‘Les St. Georges’, Domaine Thibault Liger-Belair
Allen – in the late 19th century when Burgundy villages began appending the name of their most famous vineyard to their village name for prestige and marketing purposes, the town of Nuits – prior to 1892 named Nuits-sous-Beaune (literally Nuits under Beaune) – chose Les St Georges to make Nuits-St.-Georges. But we should remember that ideas about great wine change. In the 19th century it was clear that longevity is a key to greatness, and Les St Georges is capable of decades of cellaring. It was a ‘Tête de cuvée’. But in my view it is not necessarily the best of the Nuits-St.-Georges 1er Crus. 
Fine garnet, with a mature rim; a fresh, bright, leathery, spicy nose; the palate shows real depth and concentration of fruit, and a fine structure, there’s good fruit-acid balance, and the wine is mouthfilling. This is finely structured, refined, and with good minerality in the expression. Still needs a few more years to reach its peak.
91 – Linden Wilkie

2011 Nuits-St.-Georges 1er Cru ‘Les Vaucrains’, Domaine Chevillon
Allen – along with Pruliers, Vaucrains embodies the broad-shouldered, more rustic Nuits-St.-Georges expression, and in that sense it is classic Nuits-St.-Georges. Within that, Vaucrains is perhaps more elegant, not always rustic, but it is always powerful. This is a wine to buy and forget in the cellar.
Bright garnet with some maturity at the rim; a darker fruit expression here, with some spice; fleshy, spicy on the palate, a dark fruit profile, with a gourmand, lush feel mid-palate, a little glossiness and furriness to the texture that is a bit dominant, and some dryness to the finish. The harmony is a bit below what I expected with this. 
88 – Linden Wilkie

2011 Nuits-St.-Georges 1er Cru ‘Les Roncières’, Domaine Jean Grivot
Allen – Roncières tends to be elegant and refined, but there is little margin for error, it is unforgiving for the winemaker.
Bright light garnet; a piquant and pretty red fruit aroma with a touch of leaf; light on the palate, bright, this is a more high-wire Nuits-St.-Georges, elegant and slender, yet persistent on the finish, cool, red fruited – confit cherry tomato even, light, bright and attractive.
88 – Linden Wilkie

2011 Nuits-St.-Georges 1er Cru ‘Les Pruliers’, Domaine Henri Gouges
Allen – my pick for old school Nuits-St.-Georges, Pruliers is dense, muscular and will age well. You have to pick ripe fruit. With age the texture turns to a velvety rusticity which is appealing, if well made.
Bright fine ruby, with a touch of evolution at the rim, nice freshness to this, with red fruit, earth and leather notes; a well-centred wine on the palate, quite some grip, with chewy tannins, though these are ripe and not too aggressive – but they are very present. This has good red fruit, some depth here, this is an old school wine that is balanced and would work fine with food. A brawny muscular wine of good depth.
89 – Linden Wilkie

2010 Nuits-St.-Georges 1er Cru ‘Les Damodes’, Domaine de la Vougeraie
Allen – Damodes gives elegant wines, intensely mineral, it is a wine for connoisseurs, linear and mineral, and it doesn’t take forever to age. Note that part of Damodes is villages-level.
Bright evolved garnet, a low key mature nose, with some depth; good fruit intensity in the attack, bold in fact, turning  juicy and bright, before quite some tannins kick in, giving it a bit of a square shape. This is rustic, but nicely stuffed.
90 – Linden Wilkie

2013 Nuits-St.-Georges 1er Cru ‘Les Chaignots’, Domaine Mugneret-Gibourg
Allen – note that there are two parts in an l-shape, the top part drains well. Chaignots is quite Vosne-like, and 10-12 years is all you need to age it, it doesn’t need 15-20 like some Nuits vineyards.
Bright clear ruby, a fresh colour; a fine, complex and very fresh aroma, some florals, this is engaging and subtle on the nose; fine on the palate, a lovely scents of rosehips, there is a supple firm texture, it is quite delicately-strucutered in fact, though there is a slight cool edge to the tannin, this is nicely balanced, and there is subtlety in the good fresh fruit expression, and good balance overall. Drinking well, but perhaps a little more to come.
92 – Linden Wilkie

2013 Nuits-St.-Georges 1er Cru ‘Aux Murgers’, Domaine Sylvain Cathiard
Allen – perhaps the most “Nuits-St.-Georges” of the Vosne sector, Murgers is not rustic per se, but it can flirt with it. Murgers does require some age, a bit like Pruliers, though Murgers is not as powerful. 12-15 years cellaring is almost right.
A full deep garnet, semi-clear; a glossy toasted sesame and dark fruit nose, a certain sexiness to this, it’s a very attractive aroma; fleshy, dark and spicy on the palate, with fine, glossy though well-integrated oak, a stylized wine, there is good balance, a certain elegance after all, and this is drinking well now.
92 – Linden Wilkie

2011 Nuits-St.-Georges 1er Cru ‘La Richemone’, Domaine Perrot-Minot
Allen – Richemone has mixed historical reviews – some say amongst the best, others say not so good, but I especially like it from Christophe Perrot-Minot – an artist.
Fine clear ruby; a fime, pure, fruity nose, with a savoury tone overlaid; supple on the palate, with a little green snap, like snow peas, which accentuate the red fruit taste, the tannins are light, there is good fruit here, good mid-palate concentration, and fine supple tannin, this opened in the glass well and is ready.
91 – Linden Wilkie

2011 Nuits-St.-Georges 1er Cru ‘Les Cras’, Domaine du Comte Liger-Belair
Allen – not exactly Nuits-St.-Georges, and not exactly Vosne-Romanée it lies between the two in style. 
Fine light ruby; a very perfumed and fine aroma, really complex, and with a medicinal note; concentrated on the palate, red and dark fruit, a touch of menthol-like spice, fine grip, a firm wine with a long, transparent, juicy extension. This is very mineral and fine, elegant in style, pure.
91 – Linden Wilkie

2011 Nuits-St.-Georges 1er Cru ‘Aux Boudots’, Domaine Méo-Camuzet
Allen – A vosne vineyard that happens to find itself in Nuits-St.-Georges. It doesn’t have the muscle or mineral depth of neighbouring Malconsorts, but it has the class, spice and richness. Needs 15 years ageing. My vote for best Nuits-St.-Georges 1er Cru vineyard.
Not bright in the glass, but a fine garnet hue; a fruity, slightly glossy aroma; the palate is fleshy, glossy, it opened with time in the glass to reveal a brooding, spicy aroma; the palate it rich in fruit, very well-rounded, with fine focus, and a long dark spicy finish. Very satisfying.
93 – Linden Wilkie