Domaine De Suremain Chateau de Monthelie 2017
This village appellation Monthelie is an ‘assemblage’ of four different parcels of vines, each of which is vinified and raised separately. Yields are very low here (22hl/ha), and the result is a wine of intense limpid ruby color, with a youthful fruit and spice attack that already shows complexity and elegance. 2010 is showing itself to be a vintage with great aging potential, and the tight tannins and juicy acidity that we see here proves the point.
DOMAINE ERIC DE SUREMAIN
Eric De Suremain talks a lot about synergy. Synergy between where you come from and who you are. He inherited much more from his father than just the chateau in the center of Monthelie. He got a passion for the land, the rudiments of viticulture, a love of the vine and the culture of wine. And when he talks about synergy between who you are and respect of that heritage, the discussion turns to biodynamics.
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.
COTE DE BEAUNE
Monthélie is situated between Volnay and Meursault, with one of the prettiest views in the Côte de Beaune. The vineyards form a horseshoe shape around the village, from the slopes leading down from Volnay and continuing into the Auxey-Duresses valley. For a small village with a population of fewer than 200, Monthélie produces a lot of wine: 65,000 bottles per year. And many of the village inhabitants are directly involved in that production.
Produced only in the commune of Monthélie appellation Monthélie includes 15 premiers crus.
Monthélie is nearly all red, and that red should be brilliant ruby. Cherry and blackcurrant fruit, and, in certain vineyards, a similar floral arrangement to Volnay (violets!) highlight the bouquet. As the wines evolve, they take on the typical Pinot Noir secondary aromas of undergrowth, leather and mushroom. Monthélie, on the Volnay side of the village, is fine and delicate like Volnay. And on the Auxey-Duresses side, the wines can be firmer with more obvious tannic structure.
As with nearly every village in this zone, the plantation of Chardonnay is on the rise in Monthélie, though it accounts for only 10% of the production today. These whites are often described as being similar to the wines of neighboring Meursault. That is true, though in terms of finesse, slightly exaggerated. You get lemony acidity, white flowers, sweet apple and nuttiness which when in balance make for a great value Chardonnay.
There are two distinct vineyards zones in appellation Monthélie. Some of the vines are on the Volnay side of the village facing south and south-east and planted on pebbly bathonien limestone with a top layer of red clay and marl. And some of the vines are on the Auxey-Duresses side where the rock is argovien limestone and exposures are easterly or westerly, depending on course of the Auxey valley. Altitudes are between 270-320 meters.
Nearly all reds - Pinot Noir
Whites - Chardonnay
Production surface area
1 hectare (ha) = 2.4 acres
Reds : 106.38 ha (including 34.31 ha premier cru)
Whites : 12.96 ha (including 1.69 ha premier cru)
The reds of Monthélie can be velvety but quite firm, with tannins that need roasted meats with a crunchiness: roast fowl (dark or white meat), roast lamb, or rabbit. These wines also go well with country pâtés. For cheese, go for creaminess Brillat-Savarin, Brie or Reblochon.
On the label, the appellations 'Monthélie' and 'Monthélie 1er Cru' may be followed by the name of a specific vineyard, known as a climat.
The followin climats are classified as premier cru: