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Insultingly “Cathiard”-esque? Profound Releases from a Burgundy Legend

Posted on: 03/9/21 5:10 PM

The modern story of Burgundy reads like Alice in Wonderland these days. Up is down, left is right, and nothing is as it seems. In reading up on the critical notes for today’s offer I came across what appeared to me a strangely insulting compliment:

“Among the reds, there are many delights, not least a divine Nuits Saint-George Aux Thorey, one to compare with Cathiard’s, perhaps …”

Now this is odd – a benchmark producer being compared – favorably, though qualifiedly (“perhaps”) – to an upstart darling of the contemporary collector set. Of course, Sebastien Cathiard is marking some of Burgundy’s finest wines today, but the Domaine is hardly one with a centuries-long legacy of representing the absolute heart of Burgundy’s traditions and producing some of its most dazzling wines. Moreover, I had always thought Leroy was the reference point for Aux Thorey. (Side note – anyone reading who wants to put together a vertical tasting of Aux Thorey across producers and vintages, please do not forget to put my name on the guest list. I will happily test my own hypothesis.)

Perhaps I am carping, or taking offence where none was intended, but in terms of legacy and tradition, history and consistency of excellence – Cathaird wilts in the shadow of de Montille. And, while I am at it, the profile here – one of elegance, finesse, balance and precision, rather than density of fruit or ponderous concentration – is one that finds its greatest expression in a vintage with precisely the qualities of 2017. A traditionalist in a traditionally styled vintage that prices freshness over power, subtlety over the sheer weight of so much substance, delicacy and grace, instead of power and size.

In short, these are stunners no cellar should be without. Go long. Very long. After all, the wines compare favorably to Cathiard!

From previous offers:

The de Montille family has quite a footprint in Burgundy these days. With the acquisition of the Ch. de Puligny-Montrachet in 2012 came a large number of holdings stretching to just over 20 hA. Along with that was a successful négociant line with his sister, Alix, under the cheeky name DeUX Montille which focused on whites. Since then, there have been many changes.

First, Alix is no longer associated with the négoce line and the name has been simplified to Maison de Montille. Secondly, the Ch. de Puligny-Montrachet has become the home for many of the whites. Also, there has been some horse trading of vineyards among the properties to give the labels a better sense of cohesion.

What hasn’t changed is that the wines are flat out spectacular and among the best produced in the region. With a clutch of the best vineyards in the Côte de Beaune, this house is one-stop shopping for the best of the best: Pommard 1er Rugiens, Volnay 1er Taillepieds, Volnay 1er Mitans, Corton Clos du Roi, Corton-Charlemagne, Meursault 1er Perrières, Puligny 1er Caillerets, Beaune 1er Grèves and many more. All of this is to leave completely to the side the magisterial holdings in the Côte de Nuits, including Malconsorts and Clos Vougeot.

But what else should you expect from a house like de Montille? The de Montille family is Burgundy royalty, with roots stretching back hundreds of years. The modern Domaine is the legacy of icon Hubert de Montille. Hubert was renowned for making wines that were disciplined and elegant, requiring decades to resolve and reveal their manifold charms. The wines were complex, harmonious, rich, terroir-driven, exacting and yet utterly delicious. They were always wines that looked you right in the eye and said: “This is what I am. Can you handle that?” … A lot has changed at the Domaine since Etienne, Hubert’s son, took the reins from his father. Or at least that’s the conventional wisdom, but it isn’t really true. Etienne has been taking charge since the early 1990s, overseeing most of the winemaking duties since that time.

“Domaine de Montille is a first class Côte de Beaune domaine and one which is producing some of the purest expressions of Burgundy to be found today.” – Jasper Morris, MW

Etienne has not changed too much from his father’s days at the helm, still producing reds of great finesse, purity and ageability. What has changed is that some of the incredible austerity Hubert’s wines had in youth have been tamed by picking later, as well as dissecting crus into individual parcels, to understand the maturity and quality of the vines in the vineyards. Moreover, beginning in the mid-90s, Etienne converted everything first to organic and now bio-dynamic principles, banning chemicals and pesticides and improving the general health of the vineyards.

The whites are just as exceptional as the reds, with a seductive elegance and suavity that is reminiscent of Roulot. (Makes sense, as Alix de Montille is married to Jean-Marc Roulot, who, for years, made the family’s once lone white Puligny 1er Caillerets.)

2017 Domaine de Montille Beaune 1er Cru “Les Grèves”

2017 Domaine de Montille Beaune 1er Cru “Les Grèves”

2017 Domaine de Montille Volnay 1er Cru “Les Mitans”

2017 Domaine de Montille Volnay 1er Cru “Les Taillepieds”

2017 Domaine de Montille Pommard 1er Cru “Les Grands Epenots”

2017 Domaine de Montille Pommard 1er Cru “Les Pézerolles”

2017 Domaine de Montille Pommard 1er Cru “Les Rugiens – Bas”

2017 Domaine de Montille Vosne-Romanée 1er Cru “Aux Malconsorts”

2017 Domaine de Montille Vosne-Romanée 1er Cru “Aux Malconsorts – Christiane”

Late release White Magnums:

2018 Domaine de Montille St Aubin 1er Cru “Les Remilly”

2017 Domaine de Montille Meursault ” Saint Christophe”

2017 Domaine de Montille Meursault 1er Cru “Les Poruzots”

2017 Domaine de Montille Puligny Montrachet 1er Cru “Les Folatières”

Posted in Burgundy List By Ian Halbert