2013 Domaine de Montille, Pommard “Les Grands Èpenots” Premier Cru, Red Burgundy, France.
This time of year brings me the joys of the classics, especially Burgundies and wow, this one is one of the best to celebrate the season with, it is joyous and complex with gorgeous Pinot fruit and Pommard structure that impresses the palate and lingers on and on with a graceful dreaminess. The Domaine de Montille, run by Etienne de Montille, who who took over from his late and legendary father Hurbert de Montille, one of the greats of the region in the same era as Henri Gouges, Bernard Maume and Henri Jayer, is located in the heart of the Cote de Beaune and Etienne has followed in his dad’s traditional style, but has employed a much more rigorous program in the vineyards with all of the estate’s vines being certified organic and mostly biodynamic in practice now. The Domaine de Montille traces its roots in Burgundy back to the 1730s, with Etienne’s dad, Hubert de Montille, taking control of the historic property in 1947, post WWII and brought considerable fame to this small family winery with a focus on Volnay and Pommard, like this one, from top sites in this clay and limestone soiled area. Etienne in recent years, along with his equally talented sister Alix, who is married to Jean-Marc Roulot and who is especially gifted with the family’s white wines, has really focused on tightening up the label with the purchase of the Chateau de Puligny-Montrachet, selling of excess vineyards that don’t fit in the collection and pushing the quality levels to even great heights at the main Domaine de Montille. Interestingly, Etienne has begun a new project in California based in the Sta. Rita Hills called Racines and has Rudolf Peters of Champagne Pierre Peters involved too, with some high praise already being dished out for it, and I cannot wait to explore.
The 2013 vintage is a year to enjoy now or later, it may not be a legendary in terms of quality overall, but this Domaine de Montille Pommard 1er Cru Les Grands Èpenots shows considerable depth and shows that great vineyard sites can achieve serious quality in lesser years with a dense array of red fruits, spice, mineral notes, anise and beautiful aromatics. This wine was extremely tight at first taste, opening only when its gets air and time to unfold, finally revealing its potential with a medium full palate of crushed raspberries, dusty morello cherries, plum/current and strawberry that revolve in firm details in the mouth and is accented by a hint of oak and earthiness. There is lots to unpack in this Pommard and it is just beginning to perform to its potential in classic de Montille fashion, adding floral notes, with rose oil, snappy herbs and a chalky element. Etienne, who joined the domaine in 1983, was always looking to expand the domaine’s collection of top parcels and got some prime vineyards over the years, some of his savvy buys were plots like Vosne-Romanee Les Malconsorts, maybe one of his greatest purchases, as well as rows of Puligny Cailleret in 1993, a section of the Grand Cru, Corton Charlemagne in 2004 and includes vines in Clos Vougeot, Chevalier-Montrachet, Puligny Folatières, Chalumeaux, Meursault Perrières and Poruzots, and Saint Aubin En Remilly, an area that is fast becoming an elite lieu-dit. Etienne uses lots of whole cluster, often 50-100% depending on the vintage with macerations lasting between 12 to 16 days, with pigeages, hand punch downs, twice a day to get full extraction and he does his aging in barriques, usually employing just about 30% new oak to allow more transparency and terroir purity. This de Montille Pommard is impressive stuff and should get even better in 5 to 10 years if you are lucky enough to have it, I also recommend Etienne’s sublime Volnays and the Beaune offerings, which give great bang for the buck.
($125 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive