Valentin Montanet’s mother, Catherine, founded this domaine many years ago, and Valentin has been in charge of making the wine for the last several vintages. She loves whole-cluster fermentation and the floral, high-toned fresh fruit that it gives. He likes that just fine, but he also has a soft spot for destemming the grapes and tweaking out more complexity, terroir, and structure, proving that a Pinot Noir from Vézelay can stand up and age like the best of Burgundy. Valentin has come up with a clever fix to settle their differing views on winemaking. Come harvesttime, while his mother helps the pickers in the vines, Valentin receives the grapes, destems a good chunk of them into the bottom of the tank, hides the destemmer, and then throws a layer of whole berries on top to conceal the crushed grapes below. Mom comes in at the end of the day, looks into the tank, sees only whole clusters, gives a proud “That’s my boy!,” and goes on her way. I sure hope she doesn’t read this! It would be a shame if Valentin worked any other way, since the result is the perfect mix of both worlds. Serious and fun. Mother and child.
There was once a Guy Larue from Saint-Aubin, a young man drafted into the army in 1938, sent to the front against the invading Germans a year later, taken prisoner, and moved to a farm deep in current-day Poland for five years of forced labor. He found his way home in 1945, several months after the war ended, having endured seven years away from his village and family, with no one aware if he was still among the living. All the young ladies of the area had already married, and he worried he might have missed the boat. Patience paid off. Not only did he meet his future wife in due time, but also she was the owner of several choice parcels of Saint-Aubin, including a plot in Sur le Sentier du Clou—perhaps not the village’s most famous premier cru, but one of the most sought after by vignerons for its perfectly placed, mid-slope, east-facing position. The high limestone content gives this Pinot plenty of spice and ripe cherry with great acidity and persistence. Today the couple’s son Didier is the proud owner and steward of the land.
When Gevrey-Chambertin hosted the Saint-Vincent Tournante party in 1947, 1980, and 2000 (and later in 2020, if you want to plan ahead), the highlight of the event was the collective Gevrey cuvée: each producer in the village threw an equal part of their own Gevrey-Chambertin into a tank, all the wines blended together, and everyone drank the mix throughout the festivities. The idea was to produce a collective notion of “This is what Gevrey-Chambertin is,” quite literally. This cuvée from Boillot is similar in spirit, as it’s a blend of twelve very different parcels throughout the village—north or south, near the plains or on the slopes touching the grands crus, rocky or thick clay, and everything in between—a splash of each type of terroir Gevrey has to offer. Vinified together, it proudly says, “This is what Gevrey-Chambertin is.” Grandiose, opulent, black, and mysterious. No wonder this village, this domaine, and this wine have achieved such a reputation.
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