2019 Gems from the Edges of Burgundy: Cornu-Camus' Hautes Côtes vs. Savigny
First, they confirm just how great the 2019 vintage is.
We've been eagerly anticipating the 2019s ever since the grapes being harvested in Bourgogne and...it turns out we were right to be! Both the Hautes Côtes de Nuits and Savigny-lès-Beaune have beautiful fruit, lovely aromatics and the ephemeral layers that make Burgundy so magical.
But they also show just how perfectly terroir transparent the vintage is. Many vintages have great fruit, sometimes so much so that when the wines are young it's all you can taste. The distinctions between sites or even villages fade. But not these 2019s.
These wines are clear examples of where they come from. The HCdN has beautiful aromas of fruit with a touch of smoke and a hint of exotic spices (cardamom, maybe?); it tastes of red and black fruit balanced by impeccable acidity and framed by an earthy note that even at this young age gives it a sense of substance.
As good as it is, the SLB is a more serious, more complex wine, with classic SLB floral aromas (as well as red fruit) and more of an umami minerality on the palate, complementing the berry-cherry fruit. It has very fine tannins and a longer, more complex finish.
Exactly what you'd expect of a village level wine compared to an Hautes Côtes de Nuits. (For more on the details of the different levels of wine in Bourgogne, take a peek at our recent blog post.)
That's a lot of pleasure and precision to expect — or to get! — from a pair of wines at this price, produced by a small, virtually unknown producer. But that's the third lesson of these wines.
A vintage like 2019 is the perfect time to explore. Regions that are often considered marginal (like the Hautes Côtes) can make really amazing wines with such great conditions. And there's no better time to try out a new producer.
But while Cornu-Camus may be relatively unknown in America, they're anything but new in Bourgogne: the family has been growing vines in their little region for generations and generations.
Today, Lydia Cornu, daughter of Bernadette Camus and Pierre Cornu, runs the show. She farms sustainably and makes the wine with minimal fuss: the HCdN sees no new oak at all. Great terroir, great fruit, great wine. Simple.
But of course, it isn't simple at all. There are thousands upon thousands of winemakers around the world trying to do this "simple" thing, and not nailing it. That Cornu-Camus does it so perfectly at prices like these is a rare treat. Please don't wait to send us your requests.
Cornu-Camus, Bourgogne Hautes Côtes de Nuits Rouge, 2019
This is a phenomenal example of how well the wines of the Hautes Côtes may do in (the early days of) global warming: the fruit ripened perfectly, and slowly, developing complex and classic flavors and aromas of Bourgogne.
Cornu-Camus, Savigny-lès-Beaune, 2019
A big chunk of the pleasure of the wines of Bourgogne comes from unique expressions the wines of each area can give us. This is a beautiful example of Savign-lès-Beaune's essence, with fruit and distinctive floral notes (people say violets) on the nose and maybe a hint of something exotic like sandalwood; a palate full of delicious fruit with fascinating complexity from hints of umami and spice.