The Family de Montille

Etienne de Montille was in the restaurant on Monday showing his latest releases with Bill Butzgy and David Kunicki of Martin Scott Wines. Etienne owns and/or runs three properties in Burgundy with his sister Alix. Domaine de Montille in Volnay is the family estate, with holdings of just about 10 hectares in and around Volnay, including premier cru sites in Puligny-Montrachet, Volnay, Pommard and Beaune. A plot in the grand cru of Corton was recently added. The Domaine has been farming organically since 1995 and is considering biodynamics. The brother and sister team steer clear of new oak, using only 20 to 30 percent in their wines, which are often bottled without fining or filtration.

Etienne also works as the manager of Chateau Puligny-Montrachet, which is owned by a prominent French banking concern. There he has steered the winemaking away from new oak and towards lower yields and biodynamic farming.

Finally, Etienne and Alix are proprietors of a small negociant business; Alix is the winemaker and Etienne watches the books and does things like travel to Greenport to show his wines to people like me. The concern is known as Deux Montille Soeur et Frere.

Coincidently, Etienne was in the restaurant for dinner on Saturday night and drank a bottle of the 2004 Macari Bergen Road. (And distinguished himself before I knew who he was by asking for the wine to be decanted and then put in the walk-in refrigerator. “I like it fraîche,” he said.) Of the 10 wineries he visited out here, he said Macari showed the most consistency.

I tasted nine wines. Unfortunately, the restaurant, which is 100 feet from Greenport Harbor and surprisingly still has a tiny basement, has very little storage, and the wine I buy has to be ready to drink. This leaves out many high-end burgundies, aside, of course, from the price.

Out of my range and ability to hold until they’re ready to drink are the delicious Domaine de Montille 2006 Beaune 1er Cru “Les Greves” and the Deux Montille Soeur et Frere Chambolle-Musigny “Les Babillieres.”

The Beaune had dusty tannins with a refined flintiness and a background of red cherry. The Chambolle has the same structure but seemed to have more wood and barnyard on the nose.

So delicious was the Duex Montille 2005 Mersault 1er Cru “Les Boucheres.” It was so complex and round, with lime and spicy and a creaminess, with fresh acid and a long, round finish.

Etienne explained Burgundy this way: It always has presence, even if, as in lesser years, the structure is not there. Wine from other regions need one for the other to exist. Spoken like a true Burgundian.

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