This is the first Domaine in our series on the Volnay vineyards and producers, so we start off with a Domaine that matches our preferences for wines which reflects origin and terroir. Our expectations were high.
The de Montille family has a long history in the region and the Domaine has since 1863 had the name de Montille. The family had a fantastic treasure of vineyards, including lots in Musigny, Bonnes Mares and Amoureuses, but these were unfortunately sold off step by step. Fortunately, this negative trend was stopped and reversed during Hubert de Montilles leadership and later his son Étienne has continued the expansion of the Domaine which now also includes lots in vineyards e.g. Clos Vougeot (Dix Journaux) and Aux Malconsorts. The latter addition was made in 2005 in a joined purchase with domaine Dujac when Thomas Molliard sold out of all his parcels in the vineyard including a very special part close to La Tâche that the domaine acquired when the two domaines divided the vineyards among each other. This interesting wine is bottled under the name “Christiane”. In 2011 the Domaine had grown to 20 hectares, of which 75% are Premier or Grand Crus.
Hubert is a colourful character with strong opinions and beliefs, which has created the foundation for the Domaine we see today. During his active years he combined his leadership of the Domain with a career in law, which is a family tradition. He started his work for the Domaine in 1947 and broke the tradition of selling wine to négociants (who in turn bottle and sell the wine) and instead bottled the wines under the name Domaine de Montille.
Huberts children Étienne and Alix have now taken over the Domaine, although they first followed the family tradition and studied law. Étienne started working part time for the Domaine already in 1983 and then full time after 2001. Alix returned to the Domaine in 2003 when she together with Étienne started up a négociant business under the name “Deux Montille Sœur-Frère”. Since 2006 Alix has also taken over the responsibility for the white wines of Domaine de Montille.
The wine making
Here we focus on the red wines, which are produced by Étienne.
Domaine de Montille is known for authenticity, purity, elegance and balance. The wines should always reflect the terroir and develop well with age. These are values shared between Hubert and Étienne.
However, there are some differences in the wine making between Étienne and Hubert. Hubert is a strong advocate for ageing wine and is frustrated with today’s hurry in drinking wine young. The wines he produced were very austere and rigid at young age, but developed fantastically over time. Hubert always stayed true to his goal of producing wine he himself would want to drink, not wines that were easy to sell.
Although Étienne has great respect for his fathers opinions he has challenged a few “old rules” and implemented some new ways of working in both the vineyard and in the winery. In the vineyard they have moved to first organic (1995) and then bio dynamic (2005) farming. He has also made some changes to the style of the wine. He states that: “I have added some fruit succulence and a velvet texture. The tannins are rounder and leave the charm of certain appellations to open up. I do this never forgetting to respect the terroir and our tradition”. These changes in style have been achieved by a more flexible and increased usage of whole clusters (starting with 2005 vintage) of grapes in the fermentation, changes to the harvesting and tuning of the extraction process.
The number of whole clusters was previously quite fixed from year to year, but today it is depending on the quality of the crop of the specific year. In general Étienne is using much more whole clusters than his father ever did, since this renders a more complex wine with more structure, but according to Étienne even more importantly this renders silkier texture and increase of aromatics. In addition, Étienne harvest later when fruit and tannins are really ripe, even though this may exceed perfect sugar levels. The riper the tannins in the stems, the less bitterness and silkier natural tannins in the grapes. Consequently, the late harvest leads to higher alcohol content because of more sugars, where their wines now can reach above 13% which is more than the 12% Hubert preferred. In addition, they have also split the lots into smaller parcels which can be picked at different times in order to optimise the quality. Étienne and Hubert have both been quite moderate with new wood in the ageing process, where the premier crus and grand crus usually are exposed to 20-30%. After for 2-3 days cold soak, maceration (cuivason) is traditional prolonging for 15-21 days in open vats in uncontrolled high temperatures with daily punch-downs (pigéage).
Both wines tested are from the 2006 vintage which is considered good and known for being a very uneven one having quite large fluctuations in quality for red burgundy. In general the wines from 2006 have a very early drinking window and produce fruity and fresh wines, but in general lacks concentration and structure. Especially in Volnay. However, as usual, skilled producers can usually still produce good wines. So we are pushing it a little here..
2006 Volnay 1er Cru Les Brouillards
Their lot in Les Brouillards has a very good position in the southern part, quite close to Les Mitans, where you mainly find limestone and marl. If you are interested in an overview of the area and the vineyards I can recommend the Domaines website.
The Les Brouillards is usually fruit driven and has less structure than other wines from the region, so considering the vintage for this tasting, this can be a more light wine than usual. It should open up quite early and therefore we expect the 2006 to be ready for drinking now. Open now-2020. Costs €48.
Nose: Ripe red berries, perfumed, some cherries, floral, menthol, oranges and strawberries. Very seductive and already quite mature on the nose.
Taste: Generous with lots of red berries and a bit sweet. Good balance with the acidity.
Finish: Not very long, but pleasant and fruit driven.
Summary: This is a very seductive wine, especially on the nose. What is lacking is structure and complexity.
Colour: Dark middle, a little red-orange edge.
Nose: Distinct rowanberries, very ripe red fruit, dry orange peel, some water-on-stone and seductive perfumes.
Taste: Some subtle exotic herbs, plenty of warm red fruit, ginger, orange peel, fennel, caramelised sugars and fine tuned burned minerals. It is too light-weighted and unfortunately it practically has no structure, lacks concentration and elegance too, but acidity is energetic and it is a true seductive charmer.
2006 Volnay 1er Cru Les Taillepieds
Link in Wine-searcher.
From the Taillepieds we expect a deep wine with tight tannic structure and clear minerality. This is one of the top Premier Crus vineyards, and one which the family de Montille considers to be close to or at Grand cru level. The Taillepieds also ages fantastically. Open now-2025. Costs €68.
Nose: Depth, hints of iron, quite dark berries and some raspberries, fragrant, chalk and cherries.
Taste: Already well balanced, with good structure. Some stony minerality, fine tannins, hints of sweetness and quite concentrated.
Finish: Quite long finish with a fine tannic structure.
Summary: This is a fantastic wine which has depth, structure and elegance. It will develop for many years but is already now approachable.
Colour: Very dark middle; almost black, a little red-orange edge.
Nose: Very fine tuned limestone minerals, conserved blackberries, deep black fruit, menthol, a scent of lilies, very delicate red flowers and stylish perfumes. A very deep, complex and elegant, subtle nose!
Taste: Some sourish, deep layers of ripe boysenberries, iron, orange peel, metals, pastry, notes of ginger and fennel. All aromas resting, beautifully on a backbone of incredibly fine tuned minerals. Distinct structure, great concentration and texture is velvety, silky in the quite long finish driven by an energetic acidity but all with impressive balance.
Considering the vintage, this wine offers great concentration, distinct structure and impresses with its balance. I am curious how a better vintage like 1999 or 2002 would be like.
We are very impressed with the wines we have tried from de Montille so far. Just as expected the wines from Étiennes regime are very approachable already, but of course this has to do a lot with the vintage too. Both wines are quite generous and seductive and we cannot help but wondering how the older wines from Hubert’s time would have performed compared to these newer wines from the Domaine. Often we have a preference for wines which follow traditional methods, even though they are tough to drink in their youth. We will therefore try to get our hands on an older bottle of de Montille for a comparison. If we succeed we will get back to you about that.