Not what it needed where it needed it

When it comes to de Montille wines, historically the real bum-biters were the Volnays and Pommards. Yes, now they have expanded their range the Nuits Aux Thorey and Vosne Malconsorts (and especially their La Tache-cuvée) are very good; however the Pommards and Volnays will always have a special place in my heart.

It is not just that they are fabulously beautiful. It is because they have always been fabulously beautiful, involute delights that, not too long ago, I could easily afford. This is the only Volnay Premier Cru I have left after the pillage and rape of my Burgundian cellar; the only problem with it is I do not remember the de Montille 2007s being great successes apart from when they were very young. We shall see…

Volnay 1er Cru Taillepieds 2007 from de MontilleVolnay Premier Cru Taillepieds 2007, Domaine de Montille

Highly attractive nose, all that elegant, softly maturing fruit is truly callipygian in aspect. Smells nicely mature, squeaky clean and so complex I would have to start talking about string theory in order to encapsulate its manifestly glorious nose.

However, there is a vaguely distracting touch of greenness on the nose and (I am fully aware people say you cannot do this, but that is because their tasting skills are pretty dismal;) it smells to me like it is going to be (Swedish construction) shit-acidic.

It may not be a problem if all the delicious fruit from the nose has parked all its articulated lorries around the roundabouts of time, so nothing has had the chance to escape or diminish. We live in hope that its French bloody mindedness, both from the winemaker making it structured to age and from the wine itself transcending what is a nice, but not great vintage.

Piss. It is really distinctly acidic. There are shade of elegant fruit and silky tannins to it, but clearly age has paid off all the hauliers except the acid truck drivers, allowing them to disappear into a distant shadow of what I remember was a libidinousness youth, packed with sexy, saucy, spanky delights. Only the acid is blocking the road allowing no hope of balance ever being achieved whilst they stubbornly remain immovable during the passage of time; making your palate and teeth sting as they blow their acidic air horns to signify that only they remain.

In more technical terms, this wine has lost its fresh, fruity fun characteristics of life, and acid rarely reduces as a wine ages, so that is all that is left. It is disjointed and totally lacking harmony. It is not really doing it for me in my pleasure centres (pick any one of the multitude you fancy). Move along, please, there is nothing to see here.

  • Tom Blach

    David, notwithstanding the unique acuity of your perception I do sometimes wonder whether you accept that red burgundy matures in a non-linear fashion and that the undoubted fact that this wine tastes like this now is no particular indicator of its future, indeed is not particularly relevant unless one wants to drink it in the near future when of course it could not be more useful. In my experience this applies to an appearance of overly prominent acidity just as surely as it does to any other characteristic except for actual faults such as TCA. I have slowly but surely come to understand that with a good cork(sadly this is by no means a majority of corks,at least historically) good red burgundy effectively lasts forever(actually that’s rot, but only because corks fail) no matter what the vintage, but that until they are really quite old they go in and out of approachability in a rather random way. I don’t think good red burgundy is ever particularly about refulgent fruit and pinosity, that’s pleasing but too dull to represent a return on the amount of money now charged. Every vintage closes down, and every vintage opens up again, the tricky bit is getting the timing right, in fact it’s impossible except by opening bottles. The one thing to say surely is that when it ceases to speak, leave the rest of the bottles to sleep rgater than drink them up in fear of the ‘fruit fading’.

  • Good morning Tom,

    I am fully aware that Burgundy ages in a non-linear fashion, but there are two points regarding this wine that make me think it is not going to provide much fun in the future.

    Firstly, I don’t think aggressively high acid ever goes away, unless your cellar is so freezing you cold stabilise the acid out of the wine. Look at the 1996 Burgundies; I don’t think I’ve had one I’ve enjoyed since the first few years after the harvest. I admit, I was keeping a bottle of Roumier Bonnes-Mares 1996 to see if it ever would come around (it’s gone, alas), but I was planning to be completely crapulent when I dared to pop it, and that’s what I’d expect the wine to be – as well as frighteningly acidic.

    I realise the wild differences between the two, but if you have a bottle of screamingly acidic German wine the acidity never fades. Why should Pinot be imbued with some mystic power that makes acid go away?

    Secondly, it’s a 2007. I’ve had an awful lot of very good ones, but that number decreases all the time and the wines have to be finer and finer to have survived. It was clearly not a vintage for ageing for decades, the winemakers said as much. I think in a less than perfect vintage de Montille just had a ‘mare of a time and the wines suffered. I don’t think any less of de Montille for that – indeed they are one of the few producers I try and get at least a few bottles of each vintage – but they slipped up with the winemaking that year and I slipped up thinking they would last this long. I would offer to let you try my 2007 de Montille Pommard Rugiens or Volnay Champans and let you try to convince me it’s just a sticky patch they are going through; alas someone stole them. The bastards.

  • Tom Blach

    My sympathies on your loss, David, quite infuriating. If I see these at a reasonable price(vanishingly unlikely with burgundy these days, which has gone beyond my reach in the most infuriating manner) I shall certainly acquire some to share with you. Many of my 07s have certainly closed down but I am quite certain that none are defunct-look at how wonderful most 92s are now, from a time when winemaking was less reliably good and from an even softer vintage(the seeming acidity here is surely a red herring,it is with 08 that this is an extreme issue though I have seen some astonishing resolution even here) and 96s are just beginning to come round and fulfil their promise in the most splendid way. After the initial joy of primary fruit(mostly over by the time the wines arrive here, as you have rightly pointed in your Bourgogne observations) one simply has to wait.

  • Given your last statement, it pains me immensely that Dani’s and my stash of glorious red Burgundy, going from the early nineties onward in quantity with the odd older gem, has been half-inched. I would love to have all those older wines and see what time had done to them… Oh dear… I’m getting all upset again… Sure, the wines had monetary value, but this is dwarfed by the emotional value. Some of that wine required huge investments in time, money, psychological well-being, etc.

    I had a 97 Vosne les Brulees from Rene Engel not too long ago, and my favourite (ex-)producer of one of my favourite vineyards did not fail to deliver pleasure after all this time. It’s good to have friends who can whip something like that out of their cellar without a moment’s hesitation!

  • Richard Brooks

    I don’t wish to interrupt this most enjoyably civilised row, but David I believe you quite liked the Bize Latricieres from 1996 that we drank together a few months ago…?

    • Yes, I seem to remember guessing it as a Gevrey Grand Cru from a reasonable but not great vintage – nice as it was. Dani concurred with that assessment.

      However, young Richard, one swallow does not a summer make!

      A chum opened a Roumier Bonnes-Mares 96 to make up for my stolen stash of the precious fluid a few months back – ‘horrible’ does not do it justice. *Please* don’t bring any 96s tomorrow!

    • I’ve got a cunning blind tasting challenge for you and DD-J. Are you well versed in recent top quality fizz vintages?

  • Tom Blach

    It seems to me that Roumier’s Bonnes Mares is one of those wines that is never ready, no matter what the vintage. Not that I drink it often these days.