Discover the taste of montrachet
The rule of thumb is that the more they tell you on a wine label about its origin, the better the wine is. For instance, if the label merely says French wine, we will not expect to be wowed, but if it says Bordeaux the interest perks up a bit.
If it also says Pauillac we have narrowed it down to a commune with approximately 2,640 acres of vineyards and once a chateau property is on the label we are talking about a single plot of possibly 100 acres.
With each step and additional information on the exact area, we should expect the quality in the bottle to get better.
One notable exception is the world's most famous and finest chardonnay vineyard that is simply called montrachet. We also carry chassagne montrachet and puligny montrachet; although they are fine wines they are not at the absolute top of the pyramid, but let me explain.
Montrachet is a 19.7-acre vineyard in the Cote de Beaune subregion of Burgundy and, like many of the properties in this area, it is split between various owners; about 18 in this case.
The largest parcel of 5.15 acres has been in the hands of the Laguiche family since 1363, and the Drouhin family has been in charge of its cultivation and vinification since 1947.
The grapes are hand-picked, and sorted twice before being pressed very slowly. The juice is placed in 0 per cent new oak barrels (they have been used before) of which Drouhin has had total control of the weathering of the wood (before being made into barrels) for three years to be sure of the contributing elements to the elegance of the wine.
Veronique Boss-Drouhin says this of their 2010 montrachet: “An authentic masterpiece! This wine should be regarded as the yardstick by which all other burgundies should be judged.
“The colour has a splendid golden sheen. On the nose, a multitude of aromas and pleasure to discover; floral notes of lily of the valley, peach blossom, exotic fruit, honey, grilled almonds, even exotic wood at times. A glorious symphony of sensations! Cellaring 10 to 40 years.”
You can have your very own bottle of Drouhin Marquis de Laguiche Montrachet Grand Cru 2010 for — are you ready for it — $548.95. By the way, Robert Parker rates it 96/100 and the Wine Enthusiast 95/100.
Now for mere mortals, let me tell you about the Drouhin Chassagne Montrachet 2012 we sell for $62.10. Chassagne is one of the villages, together with Meursault and Puligny, that make up the celebrated Côte des Blancs or the slope of the whites.
Drouhin farm all their own land biodynamically and use horses rather than machines for the heavy work, however, in the case of this wine we cannot guarantee this as they also buy some grapes from outside growers that meet their standards.
The wine is light golden in colour, with an intense nose of flowers, brioche and candied lemon. As it matures, nuances of grilled hazelnuts emerge.
When it comes to puligny montrachet, we carry two from Drouhin. Their Puligny Montrachet 2013 is described by James Suckling in this manner: “91/100. Wonderful, creamy texture with ripe apple and pineapple character. Hints of vanilla too. Full body, very pretty length and beauty. Puligny is excellent in 2013. From biodynamically grown grapes. Drink or hold.” $63.35.
Around the village of Puligny there are four grand cru vineyards and 17 premier cru. Of the latter, Folatieres is possibly the best known, even though it does mean “place haunted by goblins”.
We offer the Drouhin Les Folatieres Premier Cru Puligny Montrachet 2012 for $86.55.
Veronique Boss-Drouhin suggests that it has a life ranging between five and 25 years (fine white burgundy, like fine reds, can age longer than most of us would expect). She goes on to say: “The complex and distinctive aromas of puligny are in evidence; honey, honeysuckle and fresh almond. As the wine matures these evolve towards dried fruit notes and spice. Very nice balance between freshness and a velvety texture. Firm backbone, strong structure and exceptionally long on the aftertaste.”
If you are among the ABC crowd, (anything but cabernet and chardonnay), I suggest you treat yourself to a fine burgundy and then decide what you think of the world's most famous white wine grape.
By the way, as far as the French are concerned, there is no “T” at the end of montrachet (pronounced mon-truh-shay).
• This column is a paid-for advertorial for Burrows Lightbourn Ltd. Michael Robinson is Director of Wine at Burrows Lightbourn Ltd. He can be contacted at mrobin firstname.lastname@example.org or 295-0176. Burrows Lightbourn has stores in Hamilton (Front Street East, 295-1554), Paget (Harbour Road, 236-0355) and St George's (York Street, 297-0409). A selection of their wines, beers and spirits is available online at www.wineonline.bm