Valentin refers to this wine as “typique” Vézelay. Translating that word as “typical” doesn’t quite do typique justice. Essentially, the concept refers to a wine that, based on the history and legacy of a region’s terroir and winemaking, shows the best that style has to offer. Perhaps “classic” is what we’d say in English. The Galerne is typique because it is a blend of many parcels from all across the Vézelay appellation. If you visit Valentin, he’ll give you a tour of the hillside town of Vézelay and the abbey that marks the high point of the hill. From there you can see the expanse of Vézelay, and he’ll point out his different parcels—each one unique, from east to west, with varying elevations and exposures. The result is a fine and balanced Chardonnay, expressing the right amount of fruit, crisp acidity, and limestone minerality to remind you precisely where this wine is from.
Domaine Montanet-Thoden was founded in 2000 by Catherine Montanet of Domaine de La Cadette in collaboration with associate Tom Thoden. Though Catherine was still very much involved with La Cadette, she created the new domaine from her family's vineyards, which express a character of their own due to slight differences in the underlying terroir. Additional planting in the early 2000s brought the total vineyard area up to eight hectares, which are now managed by Catherine's son, Valentin.
Confident in the natural, traditional approach that Catherine had established from the start, Valentin maintained the methods and standards used by both of his parents to fashion fresh, succulent wines.
In eastern central France, Burgundy is nestled between the wine regions of Champagne to the north, the Jura to the east, the Loire to the west, and the Rhône to the south. This is the terroir par excellence for producing world-class Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.
The southeast-facing hillside between Dijon in the north and Maranges in the south is known as the Côte d’Or or “golden slope.” The Côte d’Or comprises two main sections, both composed of limestone and clay soils: the Côte de Nuits in the northern sector, and the Côte de Beaune in the south. Both areas produce magnificent whites and reds, although the Côte de Beaune produces more white wine and the Côte de Nuits more red.
Chablis is Burgundy’s northern outpost, known for its flinty and age-worthy Chardonnays planted in Kimmeridgian limestone on an ancient seabed. Vézelay is a smaller area south of Chablis with similar qualities, although the limestone there is not Kimmeridgian.
To the south of the Côte de Beaune, the Côte Chalonnaise extends from Chagny on its northern end, down past Chalon-sur-Saône and encompasses the appellations of Bouzeron in the north, followed by Rully, Mercurey, Givry, and Montagny.
Directly south of the Chalonnaise begins the Côte Mâconnais, which extends south past Mâcon to the hamlets of Fuissé, Vinzelles, Chaintré, and Saint-Véran. The Mâconnais is prime Chardonnay country and contains an incredible diversity of soils.
I want you to realize once and for all: Even the winemaker does not know what aging is going to do to a new vintage; Robert Parker does not know; I do not know. We all make educated (hopefully) guesses about what the future will bring, but guesses they are. And one of the pleasures of a wine cellar is the opportunity it provides for you to witness the evolution of your various selections. Living wines have ups and downs just as people do, periods of glory and dog days, too. If wine did not remind me of real life, I would not care about it so much.
Inspiring Thirst, page 171
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