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Côte De Brouilly

Côte de Brouilly is one of the ten Beaujolais cru appellations, covering the slopes of the dormant Mont Brouilly volcano in central Beaujolais. The area is surrounded completely by the vineyards of the much larger Brouilly appellation, but gives rise to a noticeably different style of wine from the Gamay grape variety – Côte de Brouilly wines are concentrated and elegant, with floral characters, and are less earthy than their Brouilly counterparts.

Côte de Brouilly covers one of the smallest areas of any of the Beaujolais crus, and is also one of the southernmost, being just north of the Beaujolais plains where grapes for the famed Beaujolais Nouveau wines are grown. The appellation covers land in the communes of Cercie, Odenas, Quincie-en-Beaujolais and Saint-Lager.

The terroir of the Côte de Brouilly is marked by the presence of diorite – a mottled blue stone that is the result of ancient volcanic activity. Soils composed of diorite on the slopes of Mont Brouilly tend to be thin and stony, with some clay, and offer a well-drained, optimum base for viticulture. The lack of water and nutrients in these soils lessens the vigour and yield of the Gamay vines, leading to high quality grapes with an excellent concentration of flavour. Further down the slopes, there is a higher concentration of the granite that is found throughout Beaujolais in the soils.

Most of the vineyards within the boundaries of Côte de Brouilly are on the higher south and east-facing slopes of Mont Brouilly. These vineyards are protected from winds from the nearby Beaujolais hills by Mont Brouilly itself, and are instead subject to early morning sunlight, the effects of which are maximised by the steep slopes of the vineyards. This sunlight hastens ripening, and Côte de Brouilly's vineyards are some of the first to be harvested in Beaujolais.

Côte de Brouilly, like the larger area of Brouilly, is named for Brulius, a Roman lieutenant who planted vines on the side of the hill 2000 years ago. The top of Mont Brouilly itself is an important spiritual centre of Beaujolais; every September, the region's growers make a pilgrimage to a small chapel here (called Notre Dame du Raisin) to pray against a repeat of the devastating spread of phylloxera throughout Europe in the 1880s.

The Gamay grape variety dominates Côte de Brouilly's vineyards, but the appellation law allows winemakers to add a small percentage of Chardonnay, Aligoté or Melon de Bourgogne to wines labelled Côte de Brouilly.

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