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 2017 VINTAGE
If 2016 tested the faith and resolve of wine makers in Burgundy, 2017 has to be seen as recompense, and as a miracle of sorts. While the rest of wine-growing Europe suffered crippling late-spring frosts in 2017, Burgundy for the most part (for once!) survived.
A mild winter and an accelerated spring left the Burgundy vineyards in a vulnerable position when, in the second half of April, temperatures across France barely rose above freezing for two weeks.
Three hard-frost nights pretty much did in Right Bank Chablis once again. But as the rest of Burgundy survived the first week, the growers found the will to fight back. And on the night of April 27th, a year and a day after the 2016 frost that took 80% of the 2016 harvest, a severe frost was forecast for the length of the Cote d’Or.
It’s now a part of local legend how, on the following morning, we awoke in a thick cloud of smoke. In the early hours, from north to south, the vignerons had mobilized to set alight dampened bales of hay, sending up a cloud cover to filter the first burning rays of dawn. And it worked.
The air was thick, and driving was tricky. A customer at the butcher shop in Meursault jokingly asked for a smoked chicken. And, of course, the authorities were up in arms over the pollution risks. But the crop was saved, and there has been ever since a spirit of cooperation and solidarity not often seen in farming communities.
After the freeze, May brought in an extended period of warm dry weather. No mildew or oidium to speak of, no thunderstorms or hail. Sunny periods, but no lack of rain. And the vines went in to flower at a very-normal first week of June. Pretty much ideal.
July had a couple of heat spikes, and a hailstorm hit the fancy vineyards in Morey St Denis on the 10th. But nothing worse. August was warm; the lead up to the harvest at the end of the month, hot and dry.
The first grapes were picked in the Cote de Beaune in the last few days of August. And most everyone was out picking in the first week of September.
There was (as there often is in Burgundy) serious disagreement in 2017 about when to pick. Do you pick early to preserve the acid-sugar balance and freshness? Or do you hang in there and wait for a little rain to kick-start a stalled photosynthesis, and thereby achieve the holy grail of phenolic maturity?
It’s hard to say who was right. There are very good wines coming from both camps. But there are iffy wines too. And that’s the key to understanding 2017.
Picked early, the best wines, both red and white, are fresh, fruit-driven and floral with long minerality. The iffy wines seem not have adjusted for the solid levels of tartaric acid which left them tart rather than bright, dry and tannic rather than juicy.
Picking late did not seem to have an effect on the balance between alcohol and acidity. But then, there was no ‘over maturity’ in 2017. The extra phenolic maturity seems to mean more density and riper tannins, with no sign of flabbiness.
The whites shine, particularly in hard-done Chablis (where there is better balance even than the marvelous 2014s). In the rest of Burgundy, the whites have the tension of 2014 but the open flattery of 2015.
The reds are juicy and crisp and open, and the regional appellations will be ready to drink soon. More serious appellations will be considered ‘typical’, in the best sense of the word: classic wines from a vintage that Burgundians will love. They are likely to be lost in the hub-bub that the 2018s will bring. But the yields were good in 2017, so you will be able to find them for a while. And you’ll do well to seek them out.
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