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Average critic rating : 86.0 points
The 2011 Marsannay La Montagne comes from a parcel on limestone soils in close proximity to the trees lining the crest of the hill. Sylvain Pataille explained that it has a particular micro-climate: warm in summer due to the stone walls. It is aged for 18 months in 20% new oak and a mixture of used barrels plus two years in demi-muids. It has a light strawberry pastille-scented bouquet that is nicely focused: pretty and feminine. The palate is medium-bodied with fine tannins, supple in the mouth with a slight chewy raspberry and white pepper-tinged finish. Fine. Drink now-2016. ||Relatively few wine writers make their way to Marsannay on the outskirts of Dijon since it is too far from the Cote de Nuits heartland. But this northerly enclave is perhaps the most misunderstood, perhaps slighted, appellation since its winemakers in the 1920s rebuffed the notion of Premier and Grand Cru status for its vineyards and subsequently ran roughshod over its terroir to slake the thirst of the Dijonais workers with quaffing fare. But perhaps the I.N.A.O. in their infinite wisdom and even more infinite powers can rectify matters. In similar fashion to Pouilly-Fuisse, Marsannay has applied for Premier Cru status and the long and tortuous process is underway. Hopefully it will be decided before tectonic plates move and reorganize its terroirs. It was here that I met with one of Marsannay’s exponents determined to move things forward. I actually chanced upon a bottle of Sylvain Pataille’s wines dining with a friend in Beaune and resolved to visit the next time I was in town. That happened to be just four weeks away. I spotted Sylvain walking toward me by a thick mass of tousled locks. He is a dynamic, garrulous, enthusiastic young winemaker that clearly has his own ideas about what Marsannay can achieve and that is reflected in his wines. He has a dual career as an oenologist, where he has observed many techniques both in the Cote de Nuits and Cote de Beaune. Wishing to dabble himself, he rented a 0.3-hectare of vines in the lieu-dit of La Montagne in 1999, a plot that to quote Sylvain, “?my friends did not want.” Since then he has expanded his fermage agreements under long contracts so that he presently tends around 15 hectares of vine, two-thirds of them located in Marsannay. “Most of them could be classified as Premier Cru,” he said, perhaps optimistically. Sylvain’s tenets are interesting to observe: whole bunches for Pinot Noir in order to obtain complexity after a small period of time, long pressing, and occasionally extended oak maturation with prudent use of new oak. For his white wines, minimal deboubage, gentle pressings and up to 18 months lees aging eschewing batonnage. Both Sylvain’s white and reds are well worth seeking out. While I feel they do not always reach the heights that I am sure he insists upon himself, I always found his wines interesting and reflective of their terroirs. There is always a joie-de-vivre, a little more opulence and brio with the wines of Marsannay, and Sylvain captures the essence of the appellation well. eRobertParker.com.August, 2013
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