2013 Corton Charlemagne De Montille

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Average critic rating : 91.0 points



The 2013 Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru, which comes from south-east facing vines, has a well-defined, slightly resinous bouquet (candle wax and pithy pear) that demonstrates good intensity and perfume. The palate is well balanced with lemon peel and white peach notes the segue into quite a terse, almost aloof finish. I would like to see just a little more cohesion by the time of bottling, but there is certainly potential here.||It was a poignant return to Domaine de Montille as the ripples of Hubert’s passing spread across Burgundy. Reaching the end of his mortal coil with a glass of Pommard Rugiens '99 was surely destiny. Many moons ago he had received this young whippersnapper, a visit that served as my introduction to Volnay and Pommard. I subsequently got to know his son Etienne after my previous employers took on the agency for Château de Puligny-Montrachet in Japan. His father was a formidable, highly influential character, one not without his flaws that I am not going to repeat here. Time moves on and everyone must do likewise. Having given my condolences to Etienne who was obviously tied up with other things, I relocated to Château de Puligny-Montrachet where Indianapolis-born winemaker Brian Sieve escorted me through the 2013s. ||“In 2008/09 they banned the use of treating vineyard by helicopter except for exceptional years,” he began, “and in 2013 they lifted that ban because everything was so wet, the clay soils rendered such that tractors could not pass through the vineyard. So we had two helicopters treating the vineyard systematically and organically within the very small windows. People put colored bags on the posts at the end of the row so that they [the pilots] knew which one to treat, either organically or not. The helicopters rescued us. From around the end of April until beginning of May, in those three weeks, we did three treatments by helicopter. Even though it is not the most efficient [means of treating a vineyard], it ultimately saved the vintage in that early part of the season because as soon as the leaves unfurl they would have had mildew and that puts you on the back foot. In the end we treated the vineyard 14 times: as many as in 2012.”||“We had a decent flowering until the first two hailstorms. The flowering was not as terrible as in 2012 but there was constant moisture. Once you have mildew you have to keep on top of it because any new leaves are going to be potentially contaminated. It was pretty wet and cool until 14 June and then there was a heatwave. The temperature went from around 14 degrees to 30 degrees! We had three small hailstorms: the first at the end of May, the second just after flowering when things were still quite delicate on the vine and then right before véraison. None had the individual impact of the 2012 or 2014 when one storm hit but the culmination was enough to decrease quantities by around 40% across the entire domaine: 5% loss in the Côte de Nuits but mostly in the Côte de Beaune, up to 50% lower in Beaune and Pommard.”||It seemed an opportune moment to ask Brian about the use of nets in order to protect the vines. Although he was clear that it would entail a great amount of labor in the vineyard, erecting netting whenever there is a threat, he believes that they would benefit. ||“The harvest started on 29 September until around 7 October and we got lucky with the conditions, picking before the major storm. We chaptalized about a degree in the Côte de Beaune. The malolactics were late, as they have been every year since 2011. We use whole cluster depending on each cru subject to the health of the fruit and age of the vine. Everything you taste is from barrel. The wines will undergo a second élevage in a neutral barrel for around six months. What I like about that is you are slowly de-gassing and de-oxygenating the wine and it provides a form of filtration as it is allowed to naturally settle and you can rack it off before bottling.” ||I asked Brian if he could see any comparisons with other vintages.|“I am seeing a similarity with the 2011s in terms of acidity, with a little more weight and fruit on the mid-palate.” ||As you might expect it is not a consistent rack of 2013s from de Montille. It’s just not that kind of growing season (and frankly, I would be suspicious if they were all consistent!) Certainly their Pommards and Beaune Premier Crus were impacted, whereas over toward Corton Clos du Roi, the wine is glorious. The Vosne-Romanée Malconsorts “Christianne” is one hell of a 2013 that will deserve several years in the cellar, though I was less impressed by a rather flat-footed Meursault Perrières. The efforts that de Montille went into salvaging a vintage must be applauded. I bet these would have been barely drinkable back in the day, given such appalling conditions. And while some crus missed the mark, others make it all worthwhile.| eRobertParker.com.December, 2014

Domaine de Montille is now without doubt one of the finest producers in Burgundy and an estate with a very interesting recent history. The late Hubert de Montille inherited the domaine in the 1950s when it stood at just three hectares. He built this up over the years and was not only a pioneer of estate bottling, he was a pioneer for terroir: wines with a sense of place. Hubert’s wines were often a little on the hard side in their youth, and took considerable time in the cellar to come round, though are quite, quite exceptional at maturity and very true to their vineyard origins.

His son, Etienne has been in complete charge since 1995, having assisted his father here since the early 1980s. Etienne moved to fully organic farming in 1995, and the transition to biodynamic farming began in 2005; at the same time the domaine expanded into the Côte de Nuits, with some exceptional plots in Nuits St Georges and Vosne.

The style has changed – the wines are much softer and silkier in their youth - though terroir remains the key: respecting it and expressing it. Etienne favours whole bunch fermentation and this lends a flamboyant edge to the wines, which continue to get better and better each year. These are exceptionally pure and exquisitely made wines.

The jewels of the estate lie in Vosne-Romanée Aux Malconsorts. Etienne has three plots, one of which sits nestled up to La Tache. This plot is vinified separately to make Cuvee Christiane: an exceptional example of Vosne Romanee at its very best.

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