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Home / Articles / Food / Restaurant Reviews /  Dining | Wine: Montrachet Magic
Restaurant Reviews

Dining | Wine: Montrachet Magic

Posted // July 16,2008 - I’m often asked by interested parties to name my favorite restaurant or my favorite wine. And usually, with the slithery aplomb of a professional politician, I avoid answering the question directly. However, this week I’m feeling magnanimous: My favorite restaurant is Taillevent in Paris. And my favorite wine is the French white Burgundy called Montrachet. It’s Chardonnay, but not just any old Chardonnay. In fact, Grand Cru Montrachet (the real deal) is probably the world’s most sought-after white wine, priced so far out of my tax bracket as to be all but a fantasy. A bottle of Jacques Prieur Montrachet 2004 will set you back about $640; Jadot Montrachet ’05 sells here for around $440. Needless to say, I don’t get to drink very much of the stuff.

However, it is possible to get a Montrachet fix for about one-tenth of what Grand Cru Montrachet goes for if you look toward Chassagne-Montrachet, considered along with Puligny-Montrachet and Meursault to be the Holy Trinity of white wine villages in the Cote-de-Beaune. While this used to be primarily red Burgundy territory, Chassagne-Montrachet now produces more white wine than red.

French wine labels can be maddeningly confusing, and Chassagne-Montrachet is no exception. In the tiny village of Chassagne-Montrachet, for example, there are three different producers with the last name Morey: Domaine Marc Morey, Jean-Marc Morey and Bernard Morey. So it’s wise to read labels carefully and shop wisely. Be sure anytime you taste a wine you like to take thorough notes so you can track it down later.

The style of Chassagne-Montrachet is often said to be sort of a middle road between Puligny-Montrachet and Meursault. It’s usually described as less refined than Puligny—I’m not certain I agree here, however—and less rich than Meursault.

Domaine Bernard Morey Chassagne-Montrachet Vieilles Vignes 2006 ($49) is a reasonably affordable appellation contrôlée-level wine which just knocks my socks off. Bernard Morey is one of my favorite Burgundy producers, a guy who along with his kids makes succulent, silky, superbly structured wines. This one is phat, yet supple with pear and honey notes and well-balanced (pay attention, California!) oak. Please don’t kill this heavenly nectar by serving it too cold; a little below room temperature will do just fine.

White Burgundies tend to age, evolve, grow in complexity, develop secondary flavors and so on. That means that you might consider cellaring them for a few years to really bring out the beauty therein. However, I’m never that patient. Right now, I’m drinking the 2004 Domaine Paul Pillot Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru Grande Montagne ($55). This is a gorgeous, rich, golden-colored, full-bodied, powerhouse white Burgundy with a core of steel—“Big Mountain,” indeed. It tastes a bit like creamed hazelnuts and buttered toast, harmoniously structured with a long, lingering finish and tropical fruit edge. It’s a silky, sensuous sip of Nirvana. BANG-ZOOM!

Sips: Here’s a hard bargain to beat: You can still get in on Fleming’s July “Nights of Discovery.” On Tuesday, July 22, at 6 p.m., at Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar in The Gateway, in celebration of the new Fleming’s 100 wines-by-the-glass selection, twenty dollars will buy you a tasting of five new wines, each paired with an innovative appetizer. Among the producers being featured are Ceago, Paul Dolan and Rutherford Ranch. Reservations are required; phone 355-3704.

 

 
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