2017 St Aubin, En Remilly, 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.
Though tucked away in a side valley behind the two ‘Montrachet’ villages, Saint-Aubin is a great source of fine, steely white Burgundy and some attractively fruity reds. Production used to be about 50:50 between the two colours, but the whites have become the more sought-after and now represent two-thirds of the crop. There is a significant difference however between the best Premiers Crus – such as En Remilly – and the vineyards tucked away further up the valley.
- 80 hectares of village Saint-Aubin
- 156 hectares of Premier Cru vineyards (15 in all). The finest include En Remilly, Murgers des Dents de Chien, La Chatenière, Les Frionnes
- Recommended producer: Hubert Lamy
Chardonnay is the "Big Daddy" of white wine grapes and one of the most widely planted in the world. It is suited to a wide variety of soils, though it excels in soils with a high limestone content as found in Champagne, Chablis, and the Côte D`Or.
Burgundy is Chardonnay's spiritual home and the best White Burgundies are dry, rich, honeyed wines with marvellous poise, elegance and balance. They are unquestionably the finest dry white wines in the world. Chardonnay plays a crucial role in the Champagne blend, providing structure and finesse, and is the sole grape in Blanc de Blancs.
It is quantitatively important in California and Australia, is widely planted in Chile and South Africa, and is the second most widely planted grape in New Zealand. In warm climates Chardonnay has a tendency to develop very high sugar levels during the final stages of ripening and this can occur at the expense of acidity. Late picking is a common problem and can result in blowsy and flabby wines that lack structure and definition.
Recently in the New World, we have seen a move towards more elegant, better- balanced and less oak-driven Chardonnays, and this is to be welcomed.
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Brian pondered whether climate change is helping some of Burgundy’s more marginal vineyards, such as En Remilly. St Aubin is now achieving very good levels of ripeness, as here, showing a sweet and honeyed exotic palate, with ripe, grapefruit-esque acidity. Drink 2022-2028.
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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