Today’s wine from the resurgent Château de Puligny-Montrachet, crafted by the talented Étienne de Montille, hails from one of the greatest next-door vineyards of them all: “En Remilly,” a Premier Cru in the village of Saint-Aubin. If you’ve been with us for a while, you know this vineyard, and the value-for-dollar it so reliably delivers. This one would easily shine in a blind tasting of Premier Crus from some of Saint-Aubin’s more-famous neighbors—many of which, based solely on being from Puligny or Chassagne, would fetch twice the price of this wine (and then some). This 2014 is a charmed mix of vintage, vineyard, and winemaker, and at $49 it is a relative steal. It’ll dress up your next special occasion without the accompanying trepidation over the “worthiness” of said occasion. We’ve got a healthy supply, so don’t hesitate to stock up.
Straddling the Puligny-Montrachet and Chassagne-Montrachet borders, “En Remilly” is a sommelier’s ‘pet’ cru. It doesn’t quite fit into the Puligny or Chassagne appellations, and yet it’s close enough that you could hit a Montrachet vine with a rock if you had a decent Little League arm. En Remilly’s higher elevation and the cool breeze running through its valley also make it a solid wine bet as global temperatures rise.
Then there’s the winemaker at Château de Puligny-Montrachet. Étienne de Montille is pretty much Burgundian royalty: his family roots includes 17th century Volnay lords. Étienne’s father Hubert earned a name for his family domaine by crafting whites happy to sit almost as long in the cellar as the reds. Then it was Étienne’s turn. After wind-about stints in law and a brief year bartending at Chez Panisse in California, Étienne realized where his heart lay. He returned home and apprenticed under his exacting father. In addition to overseeing operations at the family domaine, which he took over in 1990, he and his sister, Alix, created a well-known négociant business. In 2012, he purchased the historic Château de Puligny-Montrachet—which he had run since 2001. He revived the Château’s fortunes largely by focusing on the health and sustainability of its vineyards—not only converting them to organic/biodynamic farming but reducing overall wine production by 20 percent to focus on a smaller number of bottlings.
In 2014, as hail devastated Volnay and Beaune for the third year in a row (taking with it 50% of the region’s grapes), Étienne released the Château’s second certified organic and biodynamic wine. As shown with this bottle, 2014 turned out to be exceptional for white Burgundies. The hail was bad but the reduced yield, and a warm and dry late summer, ripened the grapes slowly yet steadily, encouraging round fruit and fresh acidity. Étienne coaxed the best from the vintage and vineyard (1.7 hectares, studded with 70-year-old vines), making a wine to rival those with ‘Montrachet’ in their name.
The 2014 “En Remilly” falls elegantly between rich and lean (around 20% new oak is used). On the nose are notes of raw hazelnut, oyster shell, bosc pear, apple core, meyer lemon, and honeysuckle. The glass shows a pale golden straw core flecked with slight green inflections towards the rim. With its bright acidity, minerality, freshness, and structure, the wine should age well over the next 10-15 years. I estimate the best years of this wine are from 2018-2028, but if kept well i, I wouldn't be surprised to see it pushing 20-plus. Like many great white Burgundies, this wine starts shy, and wakes up with oxygen. Decant for 1-2 hours and serve at cellar temp (55F) in a balloon Burgundy glass alongside a wedge of Marcel Petite Comté cheese from the Jura, or a summer corn bisque.