Three beautiful Burgundy wines from Domaine de Montille, M&M Importers, and Honest Grapes
Now that I finally got my KFWE post completed I can get back to posting about many wines I have been enjoying recently. However, none of the wines are as good as these three 2020 Burgundies from Domaine de Montille.
The three beauties are the 2020 Domaine de Montille Puligny Montrachet 1er Cru Les Chalumeaux, 2020 Domaine de Montille Volnay, 1er Cru Les Brouillards, and the 2020 Domaine de Montille Pommard 1er Cru, Les Grands Epenots.
Domaine de Montille
Domaine de Montille is a family-owned winery located in the Côte de Beaune region of Burgundy, France. The estate was founded in 1750 and has been passed down through many generations of the Montille family. Today, the estate is run by the siblings Etienne and Alix de Montille. Etienne concentrates his time on the 37 acres of red fruit scattered about Burgundy while Alix concentrates on the stunning Château de Puligny-Montrachet and other white wines under their négociant label called “Maison Deux Montille Soeur et Frere”. Together Alix makes some 12,000 cases of white wine including 7,000 from the Puligny-Montrachet vineyards. After 2017, they folded the Château de Puligny-Montrachet brand under the Domaine’s name.
The Domaine dates back to 1730, and slowly they grew their vineyards to encompass some 85 acres of land, by the late 19th century. Sadly, piece by piece the family sold off vineyards to keep living their lifestyle. The family slowly divorced themselves from the Domaine and used it as a piggybank. Sadly, by the time Hubert de Montille took over in 1947, at the young age of 17, all that was left was 7 acres!
Hubert de Montille
Domaine de Montille is known for three time periods, as of now anyway. The first/original one, which grew the Domaine and then almost destroyed it. The next period is affectionally known as the “Hubert era”. In this period, from the 40s until 2001 Hubert made the penultimate decision to make his own wines! Until then, the family had been selling their vineyards and grapes to négociants. Starting with the harvest of 1947 Hubert decided that the quality was too good to keep selling the grapes. It was time to believe in the terroir and make a name in Burgundy using his own grapes!
Hubert’s period was known as an era of wines that were tightly wound, rich, and built to last. Sadly, the winery was not allowing for ends to meet, at the start, so he followed in the family’s footsteps and became a lawyer. Throughout that period he split his time between law and wine, and he excelled at both! The last year he sold grapes to négociants was 1961. The de Montille name started to grow through the decades with vintage after vintage quality wines that were built for the long haul.
As a youngster, Etienne was not a fan of the stodgy Domaine. It was located in the family plot in Volnay and as a child, in the 70s, few people saw the allure of Volnay. As a youngster, there was nothing there to keep him entertained when all his classmates were elsewhere. By the tender age of 18 Etienne was already on his way to the United States of America to escape the vineyards and winery. Though wine was not far away and as he slowly started working at different wineries in California his father’s success and their name kept coming up in conversations.
Eventually, Etienne made it back to the winery for the 1983 harvest and stayed in the region for 3 years while he studied law and winemaking in Dijon. After that, he took different jobs and eventually met his wife at one of them. They had a child but the marriage did not last. Throughout it all, Etienne kept close to the winery and studied under his father’s watchful eyes, notwithstanding his studies at Dijon. In 1995 Etienne became co-manger of the Domaine and brought de Montille to the next stage of its evolution!
Etienne and Organic/Biodynamic Farming
Organic winemaking was not a thing of the 40 or 70s, but it was slowly becoming a thing in the 90s and when Etienne brought it up to Hubert, though it was not his style, he agreed. Thinking it was time and a good thing for the vines.
Another thing that Etienne started to change was the overall wine profile. The early years were lean, but robust wine, low in alcohol, but also very tight and not so enjoyable for the first 20 years! Etienne was hoping to change that a bit and move from the “Hubert Era’s” tight wines to some more accessible wines. Etienne strived to make the wines more open to the consumer from the start, he minimized the extraction time, moved towards whole-cluster fermentations, and limited pump-overs. By 1998 the Domaine started its third and current era, though not officially named so, the “Etienne Era”.
Hubert slowly grew his Domaine from a Volnay-focused vineyard to other regions, by buying small parcels bit by bit in Volnay and Pommard. However, in 1993, they bought “Les Cailleret” 1er Cru de Puligny-Montrachet. Their first white wine vineyard and the ranks of their vines have grown more and more over the years.
In 2001, Etienne started working for Chateau de Puligny Montrachet, a vaunted Chardonnay-based vineyard and Chateau and one that was a mere 5 miles from their family’s estate. From that point, Etienne has been in Burgundy full-time and has not looked back. The biggest addition came when he teamed up with Domaine Dujac to buy part of the 35 acres that the Thomas-Moillard estate was selling. As part of the deal, Hubert and Etienne came away with vineyards in Vosne-Romanee Les Malconsorts, Clos de Vougeot, Corton Clos du Roi, Beaune Grèves, and more
Alix joins the family business
From an early age, Alix was a classically-trained pianist and Hubert wanted her to go into law to help him with his firm. However, after sitting in on a nasty murder case, she quickly realized that the law was not for her! She worked in some of the greatest restaurants in the world, and she is in a few movies as well, including Back to Burgundy and Haute Cuisine. However, the allure of wine would eventually pull Alix back into the fold. In 1998, Alix started working for a négociant named Alex Gambal. A few years later she joined the large négociant called Ropiteau Freres and she exerted control over how the relationship was to be between the growers and the négociant, which was a new style for that time.
Soon after, she joined Etienne at the winery, when they bought the acclaimed estate of Château de Puligny-Montrachet, and now Alix handles the white wines for Domaine de Montille. She also runs Maison de Montille with her brother and all together they make some 12,000 cases of white wine a year.
Domaine de Montille has been recognized for its exceptional wines, with numerous high scores from wine critics and inclusion in top wine guides. The estate’s wines are highly sought after by collectors and Burgundy enthusiasts.
It took me a bit of time to get my hands on these wines but with the help of M&M Importers, I was able to taste the three wines in my home, this past month. The wines are just incredible, they were made with the help of Honest Grapes in the U.K. The last kosher Puligny Montrachet was in 2004 so I was psyched to taste this and the two 1er Cru red wines. The wines did not disappoint and while their price may be a bit steep their value is in line with what I would expect for wines of this quality.
My sincerest thanks to Ralph and his partner at M & M Importers for sharing their wonderful wines with us all! The wine notes follow below – the explanation of my “scores” can be found here and the explanation for QPR scores can be found here:
2020 Domaine de Montille Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru Les Chalumeaux, Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru – Score: 93+ (QPR: GREAT)
The last kosher Puligny Montrachet was in 2004, so this was so much fun! This wine is not like any other Chardonnay you will have, outside of maybe another kosher Puligny Montrachet. It is not a Cali Chard, for sure, it is not a Meursault, and it is not a Chablis. It is truly unique and lovely. This wine is NOT ready, it may seem so, but it needs another 5 years before you think about touching it, AT LEAST! The nose of this wine is beautiful, tart, and precise, with lovely lanolin, and an elegance that takes time to evolve, ripe Meyer lemon, lime, almonds, honeysuckle, chamomile, lavender, roasted almonds, beautiful sweet oak, and lovely minerality. The mouth of this full-bodied wine is an acid bomb, a true carpet bombing of acidity, with intense lemon/lime Fraiche, lovely honeyed almond pie, peach, freshly baked butter-infused apple pie, roasted and smoked duck, roasted pear and apricot, honeysuckle, smoked almond, toast, sweet oak, scraping minerality, and elegance. The finish is long, tart, and acidic to the core, with peach, saline, roasted apricot, and more scraping minerality, flint, rock, wow! Drink from 2027 until 2032. (tasted January 2023) (in San Jose, CA) (ABV = 12%)
2020 Domaine de Montille Volnay, 1er Cru Les Brouillards, Volnay 1er Cru – Score: 93+ (QPR: GREAT)
The nose of this wine is a fruit beast, rich, ripe, aggressive, but incredibly controlled, with big ripe, and bright boysenberry, blackberry, smoke, heritage rose petals, earth, loam, smoked meat, and incredible minerality. The mouth of this full-bodied wine is ripe, with lovely acidity, lanolin, and mouth-draping tannin, with blackcurrant, blackberry, juicy raspberry, and boysenberry, ripe, precise, and truly focused, with intense minerality, sweet oak, iron shavings, rose notes, coffee, and rich smoke. The finish is long, ripe, dense, and beautiful, with more boysenberry, minerality that jumps out at you, graphite, iron rock, iron shavings, rock, smoke, and lovely milk-covered coffee beans. Just a lovely expression of Volnay! Drink from 2027 until 2035. (tasted January 2023) (in San Jose, CA) (ABV = 13%)
2020 Domaine de Montille Pommard 1er Cru, Les Grands Epenots, Pommard 1er Cru – Score: 95 (QPR: GREAT)
The nose of this wine is ripe but a bit more balanced than the Volnay with ripe black and red fruit, and hints of blue fruit in the background, with even more minerality, sweet spices, brighter fruit, freshly baked boysenberry pie, sweet oak, rose, and violet, just incredible, a truly controlled fruit and mineral beast. The mouth of this full-bodied wine is incredible, layered, dark, brooding, controlled, and elegant, I am running out of words to express beauty, with a rich acid core, followed by rich minerality, my mouth salivates as I taste it, incredible, with black oolong tea, dense blackberry, plum, tamarind, blackcurrant, dark cherry somewhere back there, and mouth-draping tannin, just incredible! The finish is long, dense, elegant, concentrated, and smokey with coffee, dark chocolate, tea, sweet spices, anise, cloves, tannin, and minerality. WOW!! Drink from 2028 until 2036. (tasted January 2023) (in San Jose, CA) (ABV = 13%)