Article - RareWine Academy

Morey-Saint-Denis: The Narrow, Homogeneous Burgundy Commune On The Rise

Four Grand Cru parcels and wine character enriched with great finesse and an underlying complexity. Interesting things are happening in Morey-Saint-Denis. Read more...

The Big Five In Burgundy

Burgundy is home to some of the world's very best wine producers. Burgundy is magical. And Burgundy is complex. To get a better overview of Burgundy and the very best red wines from here, you need to zoom in. The entire Burgundy region measures 230 kilometres from Chablis in the north to Macon in the south. Focusing on the Cote d'Or – the golden slope – the size is reduced to 65 kilometres.

On the golden slope, the northern Cote de Nuits occupies 25 kilometres of the 230 kilometres, and these can be further reduced to a stretch of just 10 kilometres, where the best appellations are situated. Their location is perfect, even if the area is extremely minimal. Wines from here therefore come in very high quality and extremely limited quantities.

This series of articles focuses on the five main appellations: Gevrey-Chambertin, Morey-Saint-Denis, Chambolle-Musigny, Vougeot and Vosne-Romanée. Soil and exposure are highlighted, and the main Grand Cru and Premier Cru vineyards are highlighted.


Morey-Saint-Denis is strangely the most underrated of the large communes in the Cote de Nuits - despite some superb Grand Cru vineyards. The investments of recent years by large French conglomerates such as Artemis and LVMH Group may change the reputation of Morey-Saint-Denis in the years to come. Morey-Saint-Denis is a relatively small commune, geographically located between Gevrey-Chambertin to the north and Chambolle-Musigny to the south, with the style often compared taste-wise to just these two larger communes. However, the commune's own wine character is enriched with great finesse and an underlying complexity that often only reveals itself after some time in the bottle.

Morey was the last commune to add its most famous vineyard, Clos-Saint-Denis to its commune name, just as it is seen in the commune of Gevrey and the Chambertin vineyard. Therefore, since 1927, the official name has been Morey-Saint-Denis. In Morey, however, the naming process was complicated by internal disputes within the commune, as some thought Clos de la Roche was the best vineyard and others thought it was Clos-Saint-Denis. However, it ended up being the latter that got the suffix honour, and the name of the commune became: Morey-Saint-Denis.

Clos de la Roche Clos de la Roche

The Narrow Commune: Morey-Saint-Denis

The commune and appellation of Morey-Saint-Denis is located between Gevrey-Chambertin and Chambolle-Musigny and is by far the smallest of the five famous red wine communes in Burgundy. The commune stretches just 1.5 km from north to south. The vineyard layout in Morey-Saint-Denis is quite traditional with Village vineyards on either side of the main road - then Premier Cru up to the other main through road "Route de Grand Cru" and above that a strip of beautiful Grand Cru vineyards in a row. With the forest at your back, there are a few village appellation vineyards at the top of the golden slope. Most communes in the Cote de Nuits are red wine only, but Morey-Saint-Denis has white wine too. However, there are only about 3 hectares of green grapes left in the commune, so it is almost more of a curiosity than serious wine.

The composition of vineyards in Morey-Saint-Denis is more homogeneous than in most other communes. There are almost 60 hectares of Village vineyards, about 40 hectares of Premier Cru and a full 40 hectares of Grand Cru appellation.

Grand Cru In Morey-Saint-Denis

There are four vineyards with Grand Cru status in Morey-Saint-Denis, as well as a small strip of Bonnes-Mares, which otherwise belongs to the neighbour to the north - Chambolle-Musigny. In recent years, one major Grand Cru monopole, and a huge part of another Grand Cru vineyard in the commune have changed hands, which will certainly help to raise the quality of both vineyards resulting in increased interest.

Both Artemis and the LVMH group have invested in Grand Cru vineyards in Morey-Saint-Denis, and there is likely to be a battle to perform best. Their presence is therefore likely to increase both quality and, more importantly, awareness of the area. Both groups come with a large and lucrative marketing force behind them and plenty of experience in the area.

It will therefore be very interesting to follow Morey-Saint-Denis in the coming years, when new winds will blow in the narrow streets.

Clos des Lambrays

In 1365 Clos des Lambrays was first mentioned in official documents. The French Revolution resulted in the vineyard being divided into many parcels, only to be reunited in 1868 when Louis Jolu acquired the individual parcels. In the 1930s Clos des Lambrays was acquired and unfortunately the quality of the wines suffered.

Fortunately, in the 1970s, the Saier family acquired the land, and winemaker Brouin began to replant and improve quality. Brouhin remained cellar master and winemaker when the property changed hands again in 1996. He managed to raise the quality significantly on the total of 8.84 hectares. The vineyard was first made Grand Cru in 1981, after new owners had applied for it. It must be mentioned that this is not entirely a monopole, as 0.2 hectares at the southern end are owned by Taupernot-Merme. 

In 2014, French luxury conglomerate Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy Group (LVMH Group) announced that it had acquired the historic land, brand, and production. That is, except for the last 0.2 hectares. They come with extensive knowledge of running some of the world's leading vineyards. They own everything from Château d'Yquem in Sauternes, Château Cheval-Blanc in Saint-Emilion and Ao Yun in China to Ardbeg Whisky in Scotland.

The former winemaker of Clos de Tart, Jacques Devauges, is now tightening up on all parameters to exploit the potential of the vineyard. The ambitions and resources LVMH are injecting are likely to lift the wines to where they belong - at the top of the quality hierarchy.

Clos de Tart

It is not at all unusual that the best terroirs in Burgundy were found by the church. This was also the case here when the Cistercian nuns from the Tart monastery founded Clos de Tart in 1141.

Today Clos de Tart is the largest Grand Cru monopole vineyard in Burgundy with 7.53 hectares. Furthermore, the domain has only had four owners since the nuns founded it. Most recently, ownership changed in 2018 to the Pinault family through the company Artemis, which also owns Château Latour in Pauillac as well as several other leading vineyards. It is highly expected that Pinault will unfold the potential from this vineyard optimally over the next decades.

The Pinault family is in the process of getting even better control of the vineyard itself. Replanting of unproductive vines and even greater division into parcels that will be treated separately. All with the aim of raising quality to unprecedented heights.

Clos de la Roche

With 16.9 hectares Clos de la Roche is a large Grand Cru, which historically has been much smaller. The current size was established in 1971, and some of the most recently added parcels may not be at the highest level, so the best examples come from the original part of the vineyard. The style of Clos de la Roche is intense and similar to Chambertin, but immediately with more finesse.

This Clos is also distinguished by not being fenced at all, as a clos otherwise has to be to live up to its name. Originally, the old part of the vineyard was fenced in, and it is this fencing that gave Clos de la Roche its name. Over the years, the vineyard has been extended a lot and the old wall has crumbled over time. In Burgundy, vineyards surrounded by a fence - typically a stone fence - can be described as a Clos.

The largest landowner at Clos de la Roche is Domaine Ponsot with 3.31 hectares located just below the domain itself at the top of the hill with a view over the vineyard. Domaine Ponsot produces definitely one of the most classic wines from Clos de la Roche and with a great ageing potential.

Two other commendable examples come from Domaine Leroy's 0.67 hectares and Dujac with its wine from the second largest parcel of 1.95 hectares.

Clos Saint-Denis

Clos Saint-Denis is currently perhaps the best vineyard in the commune. It is 6.62 hectares and is located right in the middle of Morey-Saint-Denis. Clos Saint-Denis is responsible for some of Burgundy's best red wines, and this style is more fruit-driven than the more mineral Clos de la Roche.

The two producers with the most land at Clos Saint-Denis are Lignier with 1.49 hectares and Domaine Dujac with 1.46 hectares. Dujac in particular is known for a very elegant version from Clos Saint-Denis. Most other producers have very small parcels of land at Clos Saint-Denis and produce small quantities of wine, the most coveted of which are Herestyn-Mazzini, Amiot-Servelle. Coquard Loison-Fleurot's interpretation of Clos Saint-Denis is also magical and comes from very old vines.

Domaine Ponsot - Clos de la Roche

Premier Cru In Morey-Saint-Denis

The Premier Cru vineyards of Morey-Saint-Denis are located in a belt below the Grand Cru vineyards. Most of them deliver wines of high quality, and most of them also with ageing potential. The majority of the vineyards are relatively small and have only a few owners. The small quantities make it difficult for the wines to stand out in the market.

In general, it can be said that most wines with Morey-Saint-Denis Premier Cru classification are of very high quality, which is why some of them are highlighted below.

Monts Luisants

Monts Luisants is located above Clos de la Roche bordering Gevrey-Chambertin. It has an area of 5.39 hectares with both blue and green grapes that deliver at the highest level. Domaine Ponsot has a parcel of aligoté, planted in 1911 and probably used to make the best wine from this grape. Dujac also makes a white wine here - albeit from Chardonnay. Great reds are also made here, with the Domaine Ponsot version in particular worth keeping an eye on.

Clos des Ormes

Clos de Ormes is located at the northern end of Morey Saint-Denis, just below Clos de la Roche, and its surface is about 3 hectares. This is another vineyard adjacent to a Grand Cru and producing wines at the level just below. George Lignier owns the majority of the vineyard with its 2 hectares.

Les Millandes

In the middle of the city on a nice exposure lies the 4.2 hectares Les Millandes Premier Cru. It is a relatively large vineyard in Morey-Saint-Denis, although it is divided between most of the local winegrowers. One of the finest expressions from Les Millandes comes from Domaine Heresztyn from Gevrey, producing on +70-year-old vines.

Village In Morey-Saint-Denis

The common vineyards, the Village vineyards, also have the tradition of being bottled with their lieu-dit name on the label. The lieu-dit name is the name of a specific parcel. In particular, a parcel like Clos Solon is widely used, as it produces a large quantity of grapes with its 5.58 hectares. Tres Girard, which is just below the hotel of the same name also makes a good solid Morey-Saint-Denis village that has the classic elegance of the commune.

Morey-Saint-Denis In The Future

Morey-Saint Denis will always be the commune situated between Gevrey and Chambolle, but it seems that its identity will only become sharper in the years to come. The style of the wines is more elegant than Gevrey-Chambertin, but less refined in expression than their neighbour to the south in Chambolle-Musigny.

Morey-Saint-Denis may be small in size, but it is truly big in flavour and potential. Morey-Saint-Denis is home to many distinctive domains where great wines are made. The expected and future increased quality of Clos de Tart and Clos des Lambrays is an interesting factor. Both Clos de la Roche and Clos Saint Denis have held the banner high for many years and it would certainly be desirable if the number of standard-bearers increased.

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