Friday, November 14, 2008


I spent an entire week with Etienne de Montille in Texas and his new 2006 release. I adored our time together, learning about Etienne’s philosophy in the vineyards and winery. He has a profound sense of “greatness’ – I couldn’t soak it up quick enough.

The Montille labels are fairly new to the shelves and wine lists in Texas – even the Chateau Puligny Montrachet label. Time to elevate the education a bit and make sure if you are buying burgundy pinot noir and chardonnays that you are seeking out Etienne’s bottles. The wines are hand-crafted, made by a family and are limited in production.

Here’s a little background I dug up that sums up our conversations with Etienne last week…

Etienne is one of Burgundy's great purest, his long-lived wines may need time but they are some of the most honest and terroir-driven wines in Burgundy. The wines are fermented using partial whole vinification, élévage is long in slow in their cold cellars and percentages of new oak are low.

Now modern day filmstars, Etienne de Montille and his family need little introduction! Having starred in the remarkably entertaining docu-drama ‘Mondovino’ that came out three years ago (championing the small, terroir loving producer) Etienne, his sister, Alex, and their legendary father, Hubert, confirmed their position in Burgundy as one of the most important family domaines. Based in Volnay, Etienne, has recently overseen some ambitious developments at the domaine.

Having bought some vineyards in Corton Charlemagne in 2005, he then joined forces with the Seysses family at Domaine Dujac and acquired several hectares of vines both in the Cote de Beaune and, more interestingly for Etienne, in the Cote de Nuits, including a wonderful plot of Vosne Romanee Malconsorts.

Virtually doubling the size of the domaine overnight has ensured that the already busy Etienne (he is regisseur at the resurgent Chateau de Puligny Montrachet) has even less time on his hands now. However, his sister, Alex, works ever closer alongside him (they also have a negotiant label together called Deux Montille) and together they are really upping the ante at the domaine.

Prior to 1997 the wines of de Montille were known for their austerity, an austerity that in great years and given enough time, would blossom into beautifully graceful Burgundies of great class and poise. Etienne was keen to maintain their purity and typicity but he was also anxious to get the wines to express a little more fruit in their youth. This he appears to have done over the past ten years and in the great years of 1999, 2002 and 2005 the wines have been stunning. 2000 and 2001 were much more difficult in the Cote de Beaune than the Cote de Nuits because of pre harvest storms but the 2003s could turn out to be crackers (the elegance of the house combined with the richness of the vintage might just be a winning combination) and the 2004s will make lovely mid-tern drinking.

So all in all Etienne agrees that the future looks very rosy for the domaine and is delighted to be able to offer a few of the 2005s Texas has left and suggest you look out for the 2006s landing in your favorite retail shop and wine list by December 1! Cheers - Ali

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