On a beautiful summer’s day I visited Yann Flandre at Domaine de Montorge in Montagny-Les Buxy. I had an effusive welcome, not from Yann, who is charming, but reserved, but from his border collie.
Yann took over the family domaine in 2014 and his 12 gorgeous hectares of vineyard encircle the winery. It’s easy to get caught up in the heady delights of Burgundy’s famous ‘white wine’ villages Meursault, Puligny, Chassagne… but drive just a little further south and the countryside, the ambience and the wine mellows and everything feels a little more relaxed when you arrive in the Chalonnais. Charolais cows graze in the fields. Unlike the hot-house viticulture of the Côte de Beaune, this is also farming and grazing country.
Montagny lies just south of Givry and cloaks the hills of Saint-Désert and Moroges. This may not be the golden turf of the Côte d’Or, but they certainly like their Premier cru…ahem… all 21 of them. Certainly not all the sites are up to snuff, but there are several that are… and Yann has a nice slice of seven parcels. The premier cru immediately in front of the winery is a 1.3 hectare monopole of Montorge, after which the domaine is named.
This is Chardonnay territory – this blond beauty is happy to bed down anywhere. It has a ripe and full expression on these clay/limestone soils, but can show a nice turn of minerality on the limestone further up the slope. Pinot and Gamay had a look in many decades ago, but for a long time now only Chardonnay has been permitted.
Yann took over from his father at the family domaine in 2014. At first there were changes to be made in the vineyard. The vines are planted on a wider spacing than in the Cote d’Or (8000 rather than 10,000 vines per hectare) with a higher canopy to maximise the sunshine. Not unsurprisingly the tractors are larger too and this was a whopper for driving between the tall vines.
Yann harvests the vineyard by machine. This has the advantage of allowing him to push the ripeness – to wait as long as possible, which he did in the fine conditions of 2016, not harvesting until late September and into October. If bad weather is forecast one man and his machine can swipe up 12 hectares of grapes in a mere 4 days whereas you’d need an army of pickers.
That said, it’s important to press the fruit quickly, for the harvester takes off the stalks and can crush the grapes. As the winery is in the middle of the vineyards it’s easy to get them pressed swiftly. Yann has two small presses on the go, so no fruit is waiting.
Yann is changing the way he works in the winery, preferring now to cold settle the juice and keep more lees…useful both to enrich the wine and keep it fresher. He sells juice as well as making his own wine and finds his clients like very clear juice. So now he separates the juice and settles them separately.
He’s now able to control the fermentation temperature in the tanks more accurately. The old concrete tanks of his father’s day will be moved out to make more room, when he can find the time. He is practically a one man band.
This is not a glitzy Burgundy domaine with means to buy the best, but a young vigneron steadily trying to improve things with limited cash and a passion for his vineyard. So if the grander appellations of Burgundy are beyond your budget and goodness knows with prices rising, they become more of a treat than an regular pleasure, then try Montagny The wine is both appealing and affordable.
Montagny, 1er Cru des Quatres Clochers
A blend of 4 premier cru in four different villages, matured in tank. Quite peachy, appealing and fruit forward.
Montagny, 1er Coères
It is the largest premier cru in Montagny. Yann’s part is East facing and the soil is clay. Quite rich, generous and rounded, but also juicy and has nice freshness at the end of the palate.
*Montagny, 1er Cru Chaniots
This premier cru is very close to the Coères and also East facing, but the soil is more limestone. This is immediately more refined, silky texture, slimmer palate, lively tension and a nice minerality at the end. Very fresh and citrus.
Montagny, 1er cru Montorge
Soil here is argile/calcareous…same level of clay as Coères, but south facing, while that was more east facing. In a 500l. Seguin Moreau and medium toast, but the majority is in tank. This has a richer, broader palate. A full, more muscular mid palate and a has savoury, fresh finish.
Montagny, 1er cru Montorge 2015
It is generous, full-bodied and rounded. Certainly nice and ripe, but I prefer the 2016 as it has less body and fresher. It needs a bit of time. From 2018/19
Montagny, 1er cru Montorge 2014
This is developing nicely on the nose. Rich, ripe and elegant. A lovely balance of acidity and ripe fruit. There is has good intensity. Fresh on the finish. Less rich and full than 2015/16, but more refined than the 2015. From 2018
UK: Elis of Richmond