Chateau Cary Potet Montagny 1er Cru 'Les Jardins' 2016
From the southern reaches of the Cote Chalonnaise, the wines of Montagny are among the best value in White Burgundy. With a unique and dusty minerality that many compare to a suave left-bank Chablis, the wines also profit from their southern position, so ripeness and maturity yield seductive and charming Chardonnay. This premier cru ‘Les Jardins’ is rich and grassy, with flinty minerality in the nose, and smoky minerality on the fruit. Lemon drop acidity and a touch of fat maturity are carried through the mid-palate onto a long mineral finish.
CHATEAU DE CHAMILLY
The Chateau de Chamilly sits in a verdant hidden valley in the very north of the Cote Chalonnaise, 20 minutes south of Beaune. It was built in the 17th century, raised up on the foundations of a 14th century fortified farm. It was bought by the Desfontaine family, the present owners, at the beginning of the 19th century, including the surrounding farmland.
The Desfontaine family can trace its vineyard and winemaking ancestry back at least 12 generations. They are understandably attached to the old stones, the land and the life and hard work that goes with it. Their motto is ‘Ex Nihilo Nihil’: Nothing comes from Nothing.
Today, Xavier and Arnaud work with their mother Veronique to produce wines primarily from the Cote Chalonnaise (Mercurey and Montagny), but produce wines from the Cote d’Or as well (a Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru ‘Sous le Puits’, a Saint Aubin 1er Cru ‘Derriere Chez Edouard’ and a Fixin 1er Cru ‘Clos du Chapitre’ and a Grand Cru Corton.
They describe their primary work as limiting as much as possible the traditional treatment of the vine. They are not actively looking for an organic farming certification, because they believe that the subject is so vast that their work would be impeded. They prefer their own instincts to any codified system.
They are adamant that each vineyard and thus each wine is different. So their goal is to keep things simple and healthy, and let the vineyard express itself. The very notion of ‘terroir’.
Harvest is done by hand, and there is always a carful sorting of the grapes before they enter the winery.
All red wines and some of the whites are raised for 18 months. 12 in French oak and 6 ‘en masse’ (in tanks) to allow the wines to meld. The percentage of new oak is a function of the perceived richness of the wine and vintage.
They are looking for Pinot Noir that is fine and elegant. And Chardonnay that is pure and frank.
Mercurey ‘Les Marcoeurs’
Montagny ‘Les Bassets’
Montagny ‘Les Reculerons’
Montagny 1er Cru ‘Les Burnins’
Montagny 1er Cru ‘Les Jardins’
Puligny Mointrachet 1er Cru ‘Sous le Puits’
Saint Aubin 1er Cru ‘Derriere Chez Edouard’
Mercurey ‘Les Puillets’
Mercurey ‘Clos la Perriere’ Monopole
Mercurey ‘Les Monthelons’
Bourgogne Cote Chalonnaise
Fixin 1er Cru ‘Clos du Chapitre’
Corton Grand Cru
BURGUNDY 2016 VINTAGE
If that first taste of the 2016 Burgundy vintage really grabs your attention, count yourself lucky. Lucky in the same way that wine makers in Burgundy consider themselves lucky.
The excellent 2016 vintage was a nightmare for them, running a gamut of emotions from depression to despair, then out the other side towards hope and something resembling jubilation. It’s no exaggeration to say that 2016 took its toll on the collective psyche of the region.
After a very mild winter, April was frigid, with early hail in Macon and (yet again) Chablis. Then, on the night of the 26th, a freak frost descended on much of the Cotes de Nuits and almost all of the Cote de Beaune. I say ‘freak’ because it was a winter frost, not an April frost; meaning that it hit higher up the slopes than a spring frost would, touching vineyards that almost never freeze, notably Musigny and Montrachet.
It got worse. May was cool and depressingly wet, with storms when it wasn’t drizzling. It’s then that the first corridors of mildew appeared. It hailed again in Chablis. The mood was like the weather: chilly and grey. And it continued like this until the solstice, by which time the estimates were for an overall 50% crop loss across the region. It was hard to coax a smile from even the most seasoned winemakers.
Flowering took place in mid-June and was a bit protracted. It forecast a late September harvest, 100 days away. And given what had come before, the small crop looked incredibly vulnerable.
But with the solstice came summer. A magnificent July and August, with heat enough to curb the mildew, brought exceptional conditions for grapes. Talk in the cellars turned from tales of woe to the benefits of low-yield vintages.
As always in Burgundy, September makes the wine. In 2016, the perfect amount of rain fell on September 14th, at the perfect time to counter the heat stress that the vines were starting to show. And the fruit then ripened quickly in impeccable dry and sunny conditions.
What in mid-June seemed like a doomed crop was suddenly being touted as the equivalent of 2015, and maybe even better! Low yield years give intensity and concentration. Cool vintages give good acidity and balance. 2016 was both. Not a lot of fruit; but from serious ‘vignerons’, what there was was beautiful.
The wines, both red and white, are fresh, chiseled, with balanced acidity and concentration. The whites are definitely better than the 2015s, which lacked a touch of acidity. They are cool and energetic. Maybe not to the level of the fabulous 14s, but there are many similarities.
As to the comparisons between 2015 and 2016, many commentators cite 1990 and 1991. Both 1990 and 2015 are considered among the finest red vintages in living memory. And the vintages that followed them were both low-yield vintages that suffered early frost damage. Both 1990 and 2015 were hot years; both 1991 and 2016 were relatively cool. Both 1990 and 2015 were media darlings, and still are. 1991 got lost in the blare; maybe 2016 as well. But both 1991 and 2016 are arguably much more typically Burgundian than their world-stage predecessors. Classy and classic, ‘typical’ (in the best sense of the word), the greatest fault of the 2016 vintage could be its irregularity.
Remember, this was a tough one for Burgundy. For some producers, it was the fourth consecutive year that their vineyards were damaged and their yields were low. There had not been a ‘normal’ crop since 2009, so their cellars were empty. And when we talk of 50% crop loss, that’s an average across the region. Some areas had zero crop.
So when we get excited about the quality of the 2016s, we need a little restraint as well. Not everyone did the meticulous vineyard work that was necessary to get through the horrible start. As always, if you want to find the best wines, you need to know the best producers. Another important consideration in a low-yield vintage is the shortage of grapes, which means that the big negociant houses can have trouble sourcing fruit. Be careful with negociant wines in 2016. Buy from tried-and-true producers.
At the southern end of the Côte Chalonnaise, four villages (Buxy, Montagny lès-Buxy, Jully-lès-Buxy and Saint-Vallerin), have been banded together as a single Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée since 1936. Hereabouts, as in the Côte de Nuits or at Chassagne-Montrachet, wine growing and stone quarrying amicably share the landscape. Buxy, with its 12th century fortifications, is an important heritage site and retains its independent spirit. The wine, grown only from Chardonnay grapes, breathes freshness and clarity. The monks of Cluny preferred it to any other.
Montagny produces white wines only. To the eye, these wines present the classic features of a burgundian Chardonnay: limpid, pale gold color with green highlights when young, darker gold color with age. Their aromas are acacia, mayflower, honeysuckle, bramble flowers, and sometimes violet and bracken. Of the livelier scents, lemon balm and gunflint may be added. Hazelnut, white peach and ripe pear would not be surprising, either. In the mouth, the wine is always fresh, frisky, and rich in spice Refinement and delicacy are matched to a durably structure.
Facing east and south-east these hillsides of Bajocien limestone are planted with vines at altitudes of 250-400 meters. Marls and marly limestones of the Jurassic lias and older trias (200 million years BC ). The gravelly lower Triassic, which surfaces at Buxy, is in contact here with the Kimmeridgian limestone that dominates in the geology of Chablis.
White Wines only – Chardonnay
Production surface area
1 hectare (ha) = 2.4 acres
326.44 ha (including 201.54 ha Premier Cru)
Subtle and rich in nuance, Montagny can be matched with foods of comparable balance and aromatic intensity. White meats in cream sauce suits it very well. As seafood, steamed or poached crustaceans, and noble fish are well-suited. As for cheeses, it brings out the best in goat cheeses, Beaufort, Comté, Emmental
Creux de Beaux Champs
La Condemine du Vieux Château
La Grande Pièce
Le Clos Chaudron
Le Vieux Château
Les Beaux Champs
Les Vignes Derrière
Les Vignes des Prés
Les Vignes longues
Sous les Feilles
Vigne du soleil
Vignes sur le Cloux
Le Creux de la Feuille
Le May Cottin
Le May Morin
Les Vignes Sous l'Eglise
Sous les Roches