A bloody huge mouthful of Beaune

I feel a bit guilty opening this wine. Lovely, small-scale Beaune Premier Crus that, with their abundant fruit and easy charm, seem like they will drink best as soon as you get the case from your wine merchant. This is simply not true – well, it is slightly true in that they are delicious young – the prettiest, most delicate Beaune Premier Crus (from good vintages and vineyards) will age (in my chum Tom’s word) “forever”. So I feel I really should be keeping this, but the only other wines I have are either undrinkable or too grand for a light afternoon on the sauce, so our palates will be caressed by Beaune.

All the de Montille Beaunes I have had have been sculpted entities of poise and balance – elegantly honed models of pure delight. This one may be from the hot 2009 vintage, but as Tom (again) and I seem to have noticed in recent times, the overt fruit explosion that a lot of 2009s had when they were released have evolved into much more sedate states. Good! I like my Burgundies so beautiful you need to look at them with a polished metal mirror to save glass ones from breaking and with so much restraint you need a key to let it loose in your mouth. Let us see how this shows itself.

de Montille Beaune 1er Cru  Greves 2009Beaune Premier Cru les Greves 2009, Domaine de Montille

Jesus Christ! This smells like a bloody Nuits-Saint-Georges! It has the muscle-bound edge of leafiness that decent Nuits display on the nose. What the hell is a bleeding Beaune doing smelling Nuits?

There is a lot of fruit, that much is sure. It is very definitely the dark, brooding fruit of the Cote de Nuits rather than the red berry perfumed prettiness of the Cote de Beaune. This fruit does make it seem rather attractive, I may go as far as ‘distinctly attractive’ if push comes to shove.

De Montille claim 13.5% on the label, which is unusually high in my long love affair with the domaine’s wines. Even though they don’t have to be so accurate on the label, I would hazard that this wine was a shade North of that. There is a warmth to the nose that does not come from the gloriously glossy fruit. I think this does not pose a problem for the wine, on the nose anyway: to get such luxuriant fruit you have to harvest the bleeders when they are quite ripe.

Well, bugger me (please, no!), there is also more of a Nuits structure on the nose: bold tannins with high-ish acidity together supporting deliciously ripe fruit with that hint of leafiness to it.

The acidity and tannins really express themselves powerfully on the palate. The fruit is still there, but the palate of this wine does not deliver the good time chortles that the nose promises.

Do not get me wrong, it still has charm – great bathfuls of charm – you just have to work at it a bit harder to access that charm. There is complexity too, but again you have to think, with your mind’s analytical faculties turned to level 10, to get out the full pleasure out of it. Decanting the wine 30-40 minutes before you drink it will slightly help in tying up this wine’s more butch characteristics in piano wire and so making its beauty to shine with a little more perspicuity.

What is abundantly clear is that I have popped this wine at a fundamentally awkward stage of evolution. Shitbags. This would have been so delicious five years ago and it will be similarly delicious, only with tertiary characteristics rather than primary and secondary fruit flavours, in ten years’ time and for much, much longer.

This may not be the greatest wine ever to have been swilled and slurped by the Elitistreview Team (not Kisu, the Elitistreview cat, of course). However, you can learn from my foolish mistake: if you own some of this wine (or one of the remarkably few, in my rich and broad experience, top bunny 2009 Beaune Premier Cru wines) then do not open the bleeders now! They will not reward your investment in them if you do so.

Rather, you should find a dark, cold corner and keep them for at least ten years, they will have evolved into something soft, ethereal and supernal. I would wager they will age a good deal longer than that. I have had many, many mature de Montilles, each one of which only prevented me from taking them to bed with me because my nipples were exploding with incalculable pleasure. I think this can be trusted in the cellar and, given Beaune wine’s incredible capacity for ageing, you want some of this for the next big birthday bash after the closest big birthday bash!

  • Tom Blach

    Excellent advice indeed, David-advice that a wine should not currently be opened as useful as can be.
    I am a huge Beaune fan. It is curious that Beaune, Nuits and Pommard, which were the most sought after Burgundy brands when I was young, are now relatively little desired in comparison to other villages.
    I think this plot of Greves used to belong to Thomas-Moillard. It used to make a wine of quite unsurpassable toughness.
    I’m looking forward to seeing team Elitist Review on June 2nd!

  • I’ve had distinctly venerable Beaunes from the Faiveley and Champy cellars and they’ve been utter delights. I can’t afford much wine for ageing with the constant round of tastings I attend, but I am doing the experiment with a mag of Champy 2010 Beaune 1er cru aux Cras. I intend to keep it for so long it stands a good chance of being one of the wines at my funeral. Hopefully I will get to try it before then.

    I’ve got an odd little collection of wines to keep, but I’m convinced that I will end up crapulent before them, I’ll just have to make sure the best ones, and a few are really terribly good, get necked before I’m too far gone to notice they are anything other than alcoholic.

    Yes, that plot of Greves was from Thomas-Moillard. My experience of their wines suggests they need to pass more vineyards to people with less of a taste for volatile acidity in their wines – but I should be careful saying that as I’ve never subjected a large number of them to frighteningly severe analysis. I love Pommard, Nuits and Beaune. Before our cellar got picked over the single wine that I had by far away the most of (but from many vintages) was Pommard Clos des Epeneaux. I started buying it because it was cheap, whilst being roaringly good quality, in Lea and Sandeman. It slowly became such hot property my debit card would combust if I tried to buy any, but I loved that wine. Once upon a time, my most treasured possession – if not the love of Dani – was a Jero of 99 Clos des Epeneaux that cost me the princely sum of £82. I imagine some unscrupulous git has had many fine meals having half-inched that. I had a lot of mags of CdesE and de Courcel Rugiens and Grand Clos Des Epenots – oh, I miss them so…

    If I may change tack, it was a Pommard (a de Montille Rugiens 99) that made me swear a deadly oath that I would never attach any number to any wine ever again. It was in the line up at a Decanter panel tasting. One sniff and I was transported to the warm company of my friends, a taste and I was drinking the wine over a hearty meal with said friends. Then I looked at my tasting note sheet and I had to give the wine a number between one and five. I threw my tasting sheet at the organiser and shouted, “Your tastings are meaningless bollocks! Never summon me to one again!” And I stormed out muttering obscenities. After that experience I can never score wine again.