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.
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.
Trust the great winemakers, trust the great vineyards. Your wine merchant might even be trustworthy. In the long run, that vintage strip may be the least important guide to quality on your bottle of wine.—Kermit Lynch
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