When it comes to the world's greatest white wines, the border between
Chassagne and Puligny is the x that marks the spot, the treasure at the
end of the rainbow. Within a few hundred metres lie five wonderful Grand
Crus, 3 of which are in Chassagne. They are led by the luscious, perfumed,
but variable, Le Montrachet, to which Chassagne gained permission in
1879, along with Puligny, to hyphenate its name.
Both Montrachet and the rich, nutty, honeyed Bâtard Montrachet are
shared between Chassagne and Puligny. The fragrant, very fine and rare
Criots-Bâtard-Montrachet however, lies entirely within Chassagne's
borders. The Grand Crus have their own appellations which is why Chassagne (or
Puligny) does not appear on the label.
Although the most southerly of the three great names of the Côte de Beaune,
Chassagne's style is often described as lying between that of
Puligny-Montrachet and Meursault: less fine than Puligny, less rich than
Meursault but containing elements of both. Chassagne is minerally yet
succulent, often floral with hints of hazelnuts. Despite a bevy of very
good Premier Crus, it is not as good or famous, overall, as Meursault
and Puligny, but it is usually extremely good value. Grand Crus should not be
opened before 8 years of age and can last for 20 or more. Premier Crus are at
their best from 5 to 15 years of age; village wines from 3 to 8.
Perhaps surprisingly, given
that the name Montrachet is so synonymous with white wine, much of the soil in
Chassagne is more suited to Pinot Noir than Chardonnay. Indeed it
was only really in the second half of the 20th century that white
wines began to dominate here. The reds have a firm tannic style that needs time
to soften, with the best examples coming from the Premier Crus Morgeot,
Boudriotte and Clos St Jean. At their best they combine the weight of the
Côte de Nuits with the suppleness of the Côte de Beaune.
- 180 hectares of village Chassagne-Montrachet.
- 159 hectares of Premier Cru vineyards. Several of the larger ones
are subdivided and may be cited under various different names. Best vineyards
include Caillerets, Ruchottes, Chaumées, La Boudriotte.
- 11 hectares of Grand Cru vineyards - Le Montrachet (part),
Bâtard-Montrachet (part) and Criots-Bâtard-Montrachet.
- Recommended Producers: Ramonet, Niellon.
- Recommended Restaurant: Le Chassagne (good cuisine and wine