Country: France Region: Burgundy Vintage: 2019
Category: White Wine Colour: White Grape: Chardonnay
Producer: Domaine de Montille
Founded in the mid-18th century, this family-owned estate is one of the most historic in the Côte d’Or, with ninth generation Etienne de Montille now at its helm. Etienne inherited this responsibility from his late father, Hubert, who took over the domaine when it had shrunk from 12 to just 2.5 hectares. Previously, the family had sold off vineyards in Musigny, Bonnes Mares and Chambolle-Musigny. Hubert’s tenure lasted a staggering 50 years. While 90% of the region’s production was sold to négociants, he gained fame for his estate-bottled, long-lived and characterful wines.
Following family tradition, Etienne trained as a lawyer, but was drawn back to Volnay where he invested in rebuilding the estate. He was a savvy buyer and the domaine now boasts 37 hectares across 35 separate appellations throughout the Côte de Beaune and Côte de Nuits, making it one of the most enviable vineyard holdings in the Côte d’Or.
Today, Etienne works with American-born chef de cave Brian Sieve, who has been with the domaine for over a decade. Together they make wines that are aromatic, supple and approachable in their youth, but still offer the impressive capacity for ageing for which Hubert was renowned.
Purchased in 2004, this 1.02 hectares parcel was planted at that time to Pinot Noir under the appellation Corton "Pougets". The south-facing vineyard "Charlemagne" is named after Charlemagne's grandson who gave this vast vineyard to the abbey of Saint Antoche de Saulieu in 775. Here soil is made of yellow marl with light brown clay and small gravel. De Montille decided in 2005 to plant Chardonnay in the higher part of the 35-year-old vineyard. The older portion was ripped out and replanted. The Domaine has practised organic viticulture since 1995 and was certified organic in 2012. Since 2005 it has also converted to biodynamic viticulture.
Grapes were hand-picked and then pressed with a pneumatic press. After a short time settling, the wine is fermented in French lightly toasted oak barrels (a mix of 600 and 228 litres capacity). A small proportion of the barrels (up to 20%) was new. At the end of the malolactic fermentation, the wine is left to age in barrel. The first racking occurred after one year of wood aging. Then the wine was moved into stainless steel for 4 to 6 months to preserve freshness of flavours. The wine underwent a light fining and a light and delicate filtration before bottling.
This Corton-Charlemagne is direct and almost masculine. The mouthfeel is powerful, profound, filling and rich yet highly structured. It impresses with its density and its elegance. The finish is persistent and mineral. This requires five to eight years to fully express itself.