The Cote Chalonnaise is known as the land of values, and indeed many of the wines their are less costly than their northern counterparts. Interestingly, many can be mistaken for their northern counterparts.
The quality of these so-called value wines can be astonishing in the right hands. Mercurey, Givry
and Rully, just to name a few, can produce extraordinary wines given the right vintage. There are many dedicated growers in the Chalonnaise and it is a wonderful place to explore. Even the esteemed Aubert de Villaine, managing partner at the Domaine de la Romanee Conti, has an estate down here that arguably produces the top wines in the region. It starts south of the Cote de Beaune near the village of Chagny and extends all the way to the Maconnais.
It is much prettier than the Cote d'Or as mixed in with all the vineyards is a lovely agrarian landscape with many pastures and fields of flowers. Always nice to know when considering a visit to a wine region. All wine regions don't necessarily make great vacation spots.
There is red and white wine produced here and the five named appellations of Rully, Mercurey, Montagny, Givry
(exclusively Aligote) are at the top of the quality hierarchy. There are though some very special bottlings of Bourgogne Rouge and Blanc that must be mentioned that come from the estate of A. et P. de Villaine and should be acquired in every vintage as they are consistently great values, exceptionally pure Burgundies and just plain delicious. There are also a number of excellent 1er Cru's but no Grand Crus.
There are big negociant firms in the Chalonnaise but I would say to keep away as Rodet and Faiveley do not merit much attention down here. They dominated the scene for many years in the 1970's but there was a quality leap in the Chalonnaise in the 1980's as many estates became well known and stopped selling to the big two negociants. As a result of this some of the top wines from the five appellations took a steep price hike but that seems to be relaxing a touch now as the Burgundy wine market correction slowly starts to take hold.
The soil is pretty much similar to its neighbor up north, the Cote d'Or, but the nature of the topography is altogether different and there is no consistency of slope. As a result the wines are not as structured or in general as of high quality of the wines of the Cote d'Or. Quality also varies because the random disbursement of slope quality from 1er Cru to 1er Cru can vary greatly. If you stick with top producers though, there is much tasty wine out there to be drunk, explored and aged.
For more discussion on these particular villages, click on through.