The Côte Chalonnaise lies to the South of the famous Côte d’Or between the Côte de Beaune and the Mâcon, and consists of five village-level AOC’s….from North to South we have Bouzeron, Rully, Mercurey, Givry and finally Montagny. While there are no Grand Cru’s down this way the wines to the South of the Côte d’Or provide that all important bargaining chip when negotiating wine purchases with your partner….they deliver plenty of character and flavour and are great value for money…..with a caveat…..especially in the case of Montagny.
The Montagny AOC centres around following villages….. Buxy, Saint-Vallerin, Montagny-les-Buxy and Jully-les-Buxy…..it’s a white wine only AOC and Chardonnay is the weapon of choice. They seem to throw the term 1er cru around pretty loosely down these parts and charge accordingly…. prior to 1991 any wine produced that made it to 11.5% alcohol could be deemed 1er cru…..which is just mental. Although that is not the case anymore (apparently!) you need to tread warily when approaching the ….no less than forty-nine 1er crus of Montagny….maybe approach them out of the sun or sneak up on them via a circuituous route in the wine store, before swooping in to snatch up a bottle of only the finest vignerons product…..Stéphane Aladame is one of those you should seek out.
Stéphane Aladame started his own domaine in 1992 at the ripe old age of 18 and now farms 6 ha of vineyard holdings in the region including eight 1er cru. In this short time he has become one of the beacons for quality wines in the appellation. The vineyards are farmed lutte raisonnée style….so no artificial fertilisers or chemical s are used….the grapes are harvested by hand and the fermentations utilise indigenous yeasts.
The 2008 Decouverte hails from young vines in the Les Maroques 1er cru vineyard just on the outskirts of the village of Montagny-les-Buxy. The soils here are of clay & limestone and the vineyard is partly planted to the ancient chardonnay-muscaté clone. Harvested by hand with a wild yeast ferment the Decouverte is vinified and aged in 100% stainless steel…..Aladame tends to be very judicious with his oak usage in his other wines….I think the “oakiest” one of his wines is the 1er Cru Vieilles Vignes which weighs in at 50% new oak.
Pale straw yellow in hue with vibrant aromas of pure grapefruit and peach with light estery pineapple shades in the background. Hints of nougat, marzipan and minerals with savoury, stony tones and wafts of dried herbs and white flowers.
I kind of think of Montagny as being the “Chablis of the South” and that shines through in this particular wine….there’s plenty of sapid zing to the wines structure, with energy to burn and great vibrancy. It’s got a lovely, crunchy line with zippy grapefruit and lemony citrus fruits filled out with crunchy green apple & juicy white peach goodness. It’s tinged with freshly cut fennel and scattered herbs with hints of nougat, almond paste, lightly grilled nuts and stone. It finishes dry with a lip-smacking, stony acidity and the finish tapers off persistently with memories of citrus, minerals and grilled nuts.
When navigating the minefield that is Montagny, you can’t go wrong if you make your first port of call the wines of Stéphane Aladame.
Price: $40 – Closure: Cork – Alcohol: 13% – Source: Sample – Importer: Eurocentric Wine