2016 Volnay, En Champans, 1er Cru, Domaine de Montille, Burgundy
Neal Martin - 29/12/2017
About this WINE
Domaine de Montille
The De Montille family has long been a venerable one in Burgundy, though Domaine de Montille’s reputation was properly established in 1947: prominent Dijon lawyer Hubert de Montille inherited 2.5 hectares in Volnay, later adding further parcels in Volnay, Pommard and Puligny. Hubert’s style was famously austere: low alcohol, high tannin and sublime in maturity.
His son, Etienne, joined him from ’83 to ’89 before becoming the senior winemaker, taking sole charge from ’95. Etienne also managed Château de Puligny-Montrachet from ’01; he bought it, with investors, in ’12.
The two estates were separate until ’17, when the government decreed that any wine estate bearing an appellation name could no longer offer wine from outside that appellation.
The solution was to absorb the château estate into De Montille – the amalgamated portfolio is now one of the finest in the Côte d’Or.
Etienne converted the estate to organics in ‘95, and to biodynamics in 2005, making the house style more generous and open, focusing on the use of whole bunches for the reds.
The finest and most elegant red wines of the Côte de Beaune are grown in Volnay, a village which might be twinned with Chambolle- Musigny in the Côte de Nuits, for the high active chalk content in the soil and comparatively low clay content.Whereas in earlier times Volnay was made in a particularly light, early drinking style, these days there are many producers making wines which age extremely well. The best vineyards run either side of the RN73 trunk road.
- 98 hectares of village Volnay
- 115 hectares of Premier Cru vineyards (35 in all). The finest include Les Taillepieds, Clos des Chênes, Champans, Caillerets (including Clos des 60 Ouvrées) and Santenots in Meursault.
- Recommended producers: Lafarge, Lafon, de Montille
Pinot Noir is probably the most frustrating, and at times infuriating, wine grape in the world. However when it is successful, it can produce some of the most sublime wines known to man. This thin-skinned grape which grows in small, tight bunches performs well on well-drained, deepish limestone based subsoils as are found on Burgundy's Côte d'Or.
Pinot Noir is more susceptible than other varieties to over cropping - concentration and varietal character disappear rapidly if yields are excessive and yields as little as 25hl/ha are the norm for some climats of the Côte d`Or.
Because of the thinness of the skins, Pinot Noir wines are lighter in colour, body and tannins. However the best wines have grip, complexity and an intensity of fruit seldom found in wine from other grapes. Young Pinot Noir can smell almost sweet, redolent with freshly crushed raspberries, cherries and redcurrants. When mature, the best wines develop a sensuous, silky mouth feel with the fruit flavours deepening and gamey "sous-bois" nuances emerging.
The best examples are still found in Burgundy, although Pinot Noir`s key role in Champagne should not be forgotten. It is grown throughout the world with notable success in the Carneros and Russian River Valley districts of California, and the Martinborough and Central Otago regions of New Zealand.
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Fortunately situated for the 2016 frosts, the vines to the top of Champans gave twice the volume of the lower vines, which live on more clay-rich soil, and where the humidity had a greater influence. The De Montille vines, especially the older ones, have yielded a rich and generously proportioned wine, with an accent more on dark than red fruit. Drink 2020-2027.
Adam Bruntlett, Burgundy Buyer
Domaine de Montille was developed by Hubert de Montille (1930-2014), a prominent Dijon lawyer, who inherited 2.5 hectares of vineyards in Volnay in 1947. Over the years he acquired further parcels in Volnay, Pommard and Puligny-Montrachet Les Caillerets. Today the business is run by his son Étienne who has extended the domaine by purchases of vineyards in Beaune, Corton and the Côte de Nuits, including some marvellous Vosne-Romanée Les Malconsorts. The vineyards are farmed biodynamically and the red wines are increasingly vinified with whole bunches. Following the splendid successes here in 2015, this vintage provides a contrast in style, but with reasons to buy that are just as compelling. Volumes are down in certain appellations and winemaking has been tempered to release more of the vintage’s purity of fruit and definition of terroir. Use of whole bunches for the reds continues, but not by rote, with proportions being adjusted according to each cuvée’s requirements.
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