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DATELINE: BURGUNDY

DOMAINE DE MONTILLE

It was a stormy, rainy, windy November day when we arrived at the Domaine de Montille, one of the most important estates in Burgundy. We arrived promptly for our appointment at the offices of Etienne de Montille, son and successor of the legendary Hubert de Montille, a pioneer who changed the course of the domaine. Apologetic and hurried, he asked us to wait as he was finishing up with another group that, due to the weather, had arrived late. As I sat there, warm and comfortable and happy to not be freezing in a small car, I thought about the impressive history of the domaine and the family.

At the time of its creation in the mid-1750s, the domaine was a veritable treasure trove of vines - 12 hectares of spectacular pinot noir terroir across the Cotes de Beaune and Cotes de Nuit in Musigny, Bonnes Mares, Chambolle-Musigny 1er cru "Les Amoureuses..." Sadly, over the years, the various parcels were sold off to pay family debts and when Hubert de Montille took over in the 40's, the domaine had been reduced to less than 3 hectares of parcels of Volnay 1er cru.

Because winemaking and working the wines was not a considered a "respectable" profession, Hubert followed in his father's footsteps into law. But, he couldn't get the vines out of his head. Therein began the double life of Hubert de Montille that he lived straddling the vines in Volnay and the courts in Dijon.

With his first harvest in 1947, Hubert broke with Burgundian custom of selling wine in bulk to the negociants and decided to bottle his own and never looked back. "My father saw the terroir, felt it, smelled it," Etienne, his son said proudly as he led us to the tasting in the cave. "Each appellation, each climat (a parcel of land even smaller than an appellation), that the monks classified and cultivated for over a millennia, gives a wine a distinct personality."

And as soon as we tasted the wine, we knew what Etienne was talking about. The Montille wines are what Burgundy is all about: moderate alcohol, elegance and refined aromatic purity. There was nothing technical about these wines. They were so authentic with an inherent promise to improve with time.

In 1995, Hubert passed the baton to Etienne who began to put his own stamp on the wines and the method of farming at the domaine. Today, the domaine is run by Etienne and his sister Alix de Montille, who also learned about viticulture from her father. After stints in legal careers that Hubert insisted upon, both returned to devote themselves full time to the domaine, Etienne in 2001, when he devoted himself completely to the domaine and Alix in 2003, to Volnay. Since 2006, Etienne has focused on the red wines and Alixon the whites.

When Alix came back in 2003, Etienne also turned his attention to rebuilding the domaine to its some of its pre-Revolution grandeur and began to bring vineyards back into the fold, including some Clos Vougeot and a parcel just next to La Tache in Vosne-Romanee "Les Malconsorts." He also bought the Chateau Puligny-Montrachet in 2012.

In 2011, the domaine was at 20 hectares and more than three-quarters were premiers crus or Grand Crus vines. Now, with the addition of Puligny Montrachet, the estate is back to its original 19th century size of 86 hectares.

Note: We are sad to say that Hubert de Montille passed away in mid-November: our deepest condolences to Etienne, Alix and the family.

2012 Tank Samples - Château de Puligny Bourgogne Blanc "Clos de Chateau"

Delicious, round and rich

Meursault-Villages

Fresh and bright with high-acid, lighter than expected for Meursault.

Puligny-Villages

St. Aubin, 1er Cru En Remilly

Best quality from the Chateau de Puligny line-up. Spicy, good length and more depth of minerality present on the palate.

Meursault, 1er Cru Les Poruztos

Bright with crisp acidity. Pear notes and yellow apple. Does not have weight and depth in minerality as expected with Les Poruztos.

Puligny-Montrachet, 1er Cru Chalumeaux

Quick ascent and descent on the palate. Good flavor and aromatics but lacked full depth of this remarkably mineral vineyard site.

Corton-Charlemagne, Grand Cru

Planted in Les Pougets section in the heart and mid to upper slope of Corton-Charlemagne. Vines reworked in 2004 - 50% top grafted and 50% replanted.

2011 Bottle Samples - Domaine de Montille

Beaune, 1er Cru Les Perrieres

Planted high on the slope on limestone rock. 1/3 whole cluster fermentation. Fruity and floral nose over a dry palate and stony minerality. Linear and direct. Chewy in texture.

Volnay, 1er Cru Les Taillepieds

A flagship wine for the estate. Planted just below Clos des Chênes, over brown limestone and shallow pebble soils. Wine sees 30% new oak and fermented with 100% whole clousters. The wine is very mineral, floral and precise. Bright and accessible now.

Pommard, 1er Cru Pézerolles

Tighter with more coarse tannin structure. Chewy texture. More four-square in character. 2/3 whole cluster fermentation.

Corton, Grand Cru Clos du Roi

100% whole cluster fermentation. Clay soil base mixed with brown limestone. Montille’s parcel is situated mid-slope, just uphill of Les Bressandes. The wine shows an earthy and rustic character, with signature red berry fruit and a long finish.

Clos-Vougeot, Grand Cru

“From the lower part of the upper tier,” Domaine de Montille’s parcel runs narrow and uphill in the Dix Journeaux, over a prominent portion of the slope. Delicious and easy to drink, with dark fruit and violet notes. Bitter finish with fine tannins and luxurious texture.

Vosne-Romanée, 1er Cru Aux Malconsorts

Fine tannins, soft dark black cherry fruit, richer in weight, very elegant and supple body.

Vosne-Romanée, 1er Cru Aux Malconsorts “Christiane”

This is a particular parcel, bordered on the south and west by La Tâche. The vineyard parcel follows a fault line, separating this narrow north-south strip. Very elegant and typical soft red berry fruits comprise the aroma and the palate follows with fine grained tannins, soft as cocoa powder while lifted by a bright acidity. Power and intensity without weight.

Pommard, 1er Cru Les Rugiens-Bas

2/3 whole cluster fermentation. A little clumsy in it’s youth, showing spice and black pepper notes. Black cherry flavors over sandy tannins and bright acidity.

Nuits-Saint-Georges, 1er Cru Les Thorey

Northern-most 1er cru, on the way to Vosne-Romanée. High-toned wine, lifted with bright acidity and delicate in color concentration. Very aromatic and earthy with signature Nuits-Saint-Georges minerality.

Beaune, 1er Cru Les Greves 2009

Limestone and clay soil base under shallow gravel soils. The wine is aromatic with spice and red floral notes. The tannins show more persistence and more dry extract on the finish.

Pommard, 1er Cru Pezerolles 2008

Delicious, elegant and refined. Aromatics are sous bois with notes of truffle, saffron and baking spice. Fine and dry tannins provide power under the juicy acidity of the juicy and nervy 2008 vintage.

Tags :  Montille