2017 Volnay, En Champans, 1er Cru, Domaine de Montille, Burgundy
William Kelley - 31/01/2019
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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Champans tends to give wines that are more dense and textural than the stereotypical Volnay, but Brian succeeds here in softening some of those rough edges without losing the site's individuality. High-toned and perfumed with rich, bright red fruit, the nose is appealing. The palate is broad with some powdery tannins and a floral touch thanks to one-third wholebunch. Drink 2021-2026.
Winemaker Brian Sieve draws comparisons between the white wines of 2017 and 2014, explaining that the texture, weight and freshness are very similar in both years, although 2017 has perhaps a little more fruit ripeness, along with excellent tension and persistence. He believes that this same freshness and brightness in the reds will provide ageing capacity, pointing out that they worked hard to restrict the yield of Pinot Noir to achieve riper grapes. Overall slightly less whole-bunch fermentation was used as Brian felt the stems and fruit were not as ripe as in richer vintages.
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