The vines were planted in two stages by Auguste and Pierre Morey. They are old, weak vines producing little (between 20 and 35 hl/ha). Badly affected by fan-leaf degeneration, they have improved considerably since the application of biodynamic preparations. The parcel is situated at the far south of Montrachet also facing south. The soil is fairly dark, quite deep and stony. It consistently produces wines rich in alcohol, balanced out by their marked acidity. A great deal of substance, these are wines to keep for a long time.
The Montrachet family consists of grand five Grands Crus grown in the two villages of Puligny-Montrachet and Chassagne-Montrachet. These two share the Montrachet and Bâtard-Montrachet appellations. Chevalier and Bienvenues belong to Puligny, Criots belongs to Chassagne. These Grands Crus are the most southerly of the Côte-d'Or, and lie between Meursault in the north and Santenay in the south. Their origins go back to the Middle Ages - the work of the Cistercian abbey of Maizières and the Lords of Chagny. The wines of Montrachet (pronounced Mon-rachay) came fully into their own in the 17th century. There is no argument : this is the finest expression of the Chardonnay grape anywhere on earth. The Grand Cru appellations date from 31 July, 1937.
The underlying rocks date from the Jurassic, 175 million years BC. Exposures lie to the east and the south. Altitudes: 265-290 metres (Chevalier) ; 250-270 metres (Montrachet) ; 240-250 metres (Bâtard, Bienvenues, Criots). In the " Climat " of Montrachet, the soils are thinnish and lie on hard limestone traversed by a band of reddish marl. In Chevalier, the soils are thin and stony rendzinas derived from marls and marly-limestones. In the Bâtard " climat " soils are brown limestone which are deeper and, at the foot of the slope, more clayey.
The power and aromatic persistence of these lofty wines demands aristocratic and sophisticated dishes with complex textures : « pâté » made from fattened goose liver, of course, and caviar. Lobster, crawfish, and large wild prawns, with their powerful flavours and firm textures, pay well-deserved homage to the wine and match its opulence. Firm-fleshed white fish such as monkfish would be equally at home in their company. And let us not forget well-bred and well-fattened free-range poultry whose delicate flesh, with the addition of a cream-and-mushroom sauce, will be lapped up in the unctuous and noble texture of this wine. Even a simple piece of veal, fried or in sauce, would be raised to heavenly heights by the Montrachet's long and subtle acidity.
Serving temperature : 12 to 14 °C.
It is worth noting the following: An early and very swift flowering (3 days) hailing a large crop, after a normal fruit set.
The climate was cold and dry during flowering with several storms which rendered dealing with phyto-sanitary conditions undemanding. The end of the summer was very sunny and cold and there was practically no rain. At the beginning of September the drought was severe, temperatures were well below average, but with good sunshine (dominated by a east to north easterly wind).
On the eve of the harvest, sanitary conditions were remarkably good, the berry skins were very thick ( and therefore disease resistant), but ripening was slowed down by the cold.
The start of the harvest was announced for 18th September for the whites and 20th September for the reds. This year, there were considerable differences in levels of ripeness from one parcel to another. Consequently, we picked with an average sized team, pausing when necessary in order to wait for a good level of ripeness to be reached, (permitted by good sanitary conditions).
The harvesting diary:
* 19th September :
o Le Montrachet, with 1/2 a team, picked at 14° natural. We stopped then restarted with a full team.
* 21st September :
o Désirée: 13.3° natural
o Genevrières: 13.4° natural
o Perrières: 13.6° natural
* 22nd September :
o Charmes young vines: 13.0° natural
o Goutte d'Or: 13.3° natural
o Meursault les Luraules (new vineyard): 13.2° natural
* 23rd September :
o Charmes: 13.6° natural
o Meursault en la Barre: 13.2° natural
* 24th September :
o Clos de la Barre old vines: 13.2° natural
* 25th September :
o Monthélie les Duresses: 12° natural
o Volnay Champans: 12.9° natural
* 26th September :
o Part of les Santenots: 13.3° natural. We stopped until 30th September , 3 days of good cold and sunny weather enabled the grapes to reach ripeness in the remaining parcels.
* 30th September :
o Part of les Volnay Santenots: 13.2° natural
* 1st October :
o Puligny Champgain: 13.2° natural
o Volnay Clos des Chênes: 13.2° natural
o Part of les Volnay Santenots: 12.9° natural
* 2nd October :
o The last of les Volnay Santenots: 12.8° natural
The alcoholic degree was high, mainly, because there was a large amount of malic acid which had been prevented from breaking down by the cold. deteriorated It is quite unusual to obtain as much alcohol with such high acidity. It left everyone rather perplexed.
Ils sont élevés en Rouge : 40 à 42 hl/ha, ce qui nous rapproche du millésime 1990, et ce qui est très rare (moyenne sur 10 ans : 25 à 30 hl/ha).
Ils sont bons en blanc, mais sans être exceptionnels :
* 30 à 40 ni en 1er cru
* 45 hl / ha en village
* 24 hl / ha en Montrachet
Elles étaient aisées en blanc : les pressurages étaient lents, car les peaux étaient épaisses, mais les jus étaient très propres.
Les fermentations ont démarré doucement, mais se sont pratique ment toutes bien finies. Quelques pièces ont encore du sucre mais sans problème car nous sommes protégés par les bonnes acidités.
Les rouges : démarrage en fermentation lente (les raisins étaient froids). Fermentations aisées à conduire, mais longues (18 à 24 jours de macération), très bonne extraction de cou-leur, extraction lente des tannins.
The Reds : the colour is intense, approaching that of '95 and '93, without being as black as in 1990. The tannins are discreet and fine, similar to those in '95. Acidity is high due to the large amount of malic acid, not one cuvée has begun malolactic fermentation. We should end up with a good balance of acidity, similar in type to '93 and '95. Fruit intensity is very impressive, dominated by elegant red fruits. Certain wines, particularly the Monthélie, are better than in '95. The malic acid will transform the wines but, if the fruit and colour remain stable we should obtain wine with intense fruit, very well balanced and with no harshness.
The Whites : they appear rather austere just after alcoholic fermentation. The fruit is beginning to come out, the impression of fat is increasing (perhaps through stirring the lees) and acidity at the moment is much higher than usual. Malo has not yet begun, and it is difficult to get a true picture of what this year will bring. Some wines could be like the '95. At the very worst they will be good wines and some cuvées could be excellent. The fruit is clear and pure. There is a little reduction in certain cuvées but nothing to worry about. I have great hopes for this vintage despite being unable to compare it to others for the moment. We will have to wait for the end of malo..