Domaine de Montille makes some of Burgundy’s most exquisite wines, elegant, understated gems which possess haunting perfume and impressive length of flavour. They require and repay keeping to show their very best. Under the late Hubert de Montille (who came to wider prominence defending the terroir of Burgundy in the film Mondovino) the estate was famous for very fine, unchaptalised wines which could be somewhat austere when young. Hubert’s son, Etienne, took over the running of the estate in 2001, quitting his banking career which had led him abroad and then to Paris, to return to the family domaine in Volnay. Etienne is smart and energetic and has thoughtfully moved the family business along, looking particularly at three issues; ripeness, yields and extraction. Whilst Etienne’s wines are less austere in youth than his father’s, they have lost none of the innate elegance and purity associated with the domaine.
Etienne has doubled the size of the domaine, which now has 17 hectares, with the addition to the long standing holdings in Volnays and Pommard of some Beaune premiers crus, Corton-Charlemagne and the Puligny-Montrachet premier cru Les Caillerets. More recently, he has ventured into the the Cote de Nuits with acquisitions in Clos de Vougeot and the Vosne-Romanée premier cru of Malconsorts. The new acreage necessitated bigger premises and the perfect cellar has been found in Meursault. Old, deep and well ventilated it is the ideal space for the unhurried maturation the wines of de Montille need.
The estate is increasingly sustainable and respectful of the environment, aiming to reduce non-natural inputs as much as possible. In the winery, Etienne will chaptalise a little if necessary and a decision is made each year as to whether to include stems or not. He is an advocate of whole bunch fermentation when the stems are ripe, believing the technique gives more floral character to the wines and a more complex mix of tannins. The wines are bottled after 14-18 months in barrel. Etienne shares his father’s abhorrence of excessive new wood, using none in the regional and village wines, a maximum of 30% for the premiers crus and up to 50% for the grands crus.