Chateau Cary Potet Montagny 1er Cru 'Les Jardins' 2020
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
With so many winemakers finishing their 2020 harvest before the end of August, everyone here in Burgundy expected that this hot, sunny vintage would produce atypical wines, overripe, fat and flabby. Why it did not is a mystery to this day.
In fact, 2020 Burgundy, both red and white, is being lauded by the Press and professionals alike as an exceptional vintage, brilliantly fresh, pure, elegant and focused. Yes, the wines are ripe and concentrated, but there is good acidity that more than brings things into balance. This, in fact, defines the Burgundy 2020 style: high acidity and high concentration.
So let’s look, as we do every year, at how the growing season developed, to try to get some idea of what shaped these unexpectedly energetic wines.
In a word, from start to finish, 2020 was precocious. After a mild and humid winter, the vegetative cycle started a month early under sunny skies, with bud burst in mid-April and the first Chardonnay flowers in early May. Then the weather deteriorated. Pinot Noir flowered in cool, damp conditions, and was less successful than Chardonnay, explaining the smaller Pinot crop.
From that point on, there is not much to report weatherwise. It was hot and dry from June through to the end, the driest year since 1945. The grapes started to change color in mid-July, and harvest in August seemed likely.
Now you may think that an August harvest lets everyone get their jobs done and go home early. But remember that there is a big difference between the heat and luminosity of an August afternoon and the cooler, shorter days of September. When maturity comes galloping at you in August, you have to react quickly; a day or two can mean considerable differences in acid and sugar levels.
Indeed, there may have been more stress on the winemakers than there was on the vines. 2020 was in fact an easy growing season, dry, with little risk of fungal problems. The tough part was deciding when to harvest. Do you put off harvesting to try to get to phenolic maturity, or do you pick sooner to keep acid levels up and to avoid higher alcohol levels?
Many opted to pick early. And for the most part, it proved to be the right decision…though we still do not understand why!
Many 2020 wines have alcohol levels of 13%-14%, but many are higher. Delaying picking increased the potential alcohol levels by as much as a degree a week.
At the same time, good levels of phenolic maturity gave ripe, but not overripe tannins. Some call the 2020s ‘crunchy’, which is a tannin level riper than ‘green’ but less than ‘fine’.
Total acidity was generally high, but most of that was tartaric acid. Malic acid, which would normally make up a big percentage of the total acidity, was low. In fact, the wines changed very little during malolactic fermentation, as there was little malic acid to transform into lactic acid.
So, again, we have a vintage that is characterized by high acidity and concentrated fruit. Some are saying that there has never before been a vintage where ripeness and acidity combined to give such brilliant wines with great aging potential. And this is true for both red and white. Freshness, balance, moderate alcohol.
The whites are rich and ripe, but with a crystalline, almost razor-sharp edge. That little touch of lactic acid makes them complex without adding weight.
The reds might bear a resemblance to past vintages. 2005, maybe. But they made wine differently in 2005. Back then, extraction was the goal: get as much out of the ripeness as you could. Today, Pinot is not so much ‘extracted’ as ‘infused’, like tea. This gives wines that are fresher and more energetic, with no less intensity and maybe more spice.
Drink them now, both red and white. There is astounding vitality in the youthful 2020s. But stick to the regional appellations for now because this is above all a vintage for aging, again both red and white. Keep the premier and grand crus for 10-15 years; longer for the best wines. They have the balance to age, and will reveal little by little the complexity that we just get hints of today. These are wines that may shut down for a few years in a few years, that’s to be expected. But be patient; you will be overjoyed to pull 2020 Burgundy from your cellar down the line.
But even just that little touch of lactic acid made the complexity of the whites.
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