Montrachet wine has been a firm favourite among wine connoisseurs for many years – and for good reason.
What is Montrachet Wine?
Made of Chardonnay grapes, this dry white wine is considered to be one of the best in the world. Its name, pronounced “Mon-rashay”, has become synonymous with top quality wine and delightfully rich, exquisite flavours.
This particular variety of wine has been around for centuries, although it only acquired its name in 1879 and became an appellation decades later, in 1937.
Where Is Montrachet Wine From?
The vineyards of Montrachet are situated in the Côte de Beaune area of Burgundy (Bourgogne) – the southern region of Côte d’Or. The wine farm itself is surrounded by four other Grand Cru vineyards: Bâtard-Montrachet, Chevalier-Montrachet, Bienvenues-Bâtard-Montrachet and Criots-Bâtard-Montrachet.
Montrachet is the second largest of these five appellations, with its vineyards situated on the hill overlooking neighbouring communes Chassagne-Montrachet and Puligny-Montrachet. Most vineyards are split into sub-sections, and Montrachet is no different: the acreage is divided between at least 21 separate wine producers.
Burgundy or Bourgogne is home to more than one wine growing area: Chablis, Côte de Nuits, Côte de Beaune, Côte Chalonnaise and Mâconnais sit side-by-side in the region and each produces its own variety – a range of world-class wines enjoyed around the world.
How Is Montrachet Wine Made?
Montrachet wine is regarded as one of the best around the globe. The Grand Cru vineyard is the oldest appellation in Côte de Beaune and one of the largest. Situated in a sheltered area, the grapes are often cultivated by long-established methods: organic is favoured over automatic.
The process of transforming Chardonnay grapes into dry white wine takes time and effort. The well-sheltered vineyards sit atop Jurassic-era rocks that date back 175 million years ago (the period also known as the Mesozoic Era). The manganese-rich soil is perfect for crops such as Chardonnay grapes, while the location allows the vineyards to soak up as much sun as possible.
To actually produce Montrachet wine, the Chardonnay grapes are harvested by hand and placed in small crates before going to be sorted by quality. The best fruit, once sorted, is pressed slowly before being transferred into barrels to ferment.
The sorting itself, however, is quite a laborious task: grapes are first sifted through as soon as they’ve been picked, and go on to be sorted just before the winemaking process begins.
Pressing the grapes is done slowly, as we mentioned above, but winemakers are also careful to avoid using “old” juice, which consists of liquid from the last few rounds of pressing. The next step is to decant the wine – a process called “débourbage” (French for “de-sludging”) – to get rid of sediment. This takes about 24 hours and is also labelled “settling of the juice,” as the liquid slowly separates from leftover solids, like skin or pips.
Ageing in oak barrels over a period of 15 to 18 months gives Montrachet wine its rich and distinctive flavour.
What Does Montrachet Wine Taste Like?
Montrachet has no problems living up to its reputation as a world-class wine. There are a few variations of the original Montrachet dry white, each of which treats oenophiles to subtle variations of flavour.
This type of wine is generally rich and buttery, with hints of spices and honey. Its colour – usually gold tinged with emerald, getting darker as it ages – aligns with its flavour: sweet, fruity and aromatic. Still, different vineyards, such as those in Puligny versus Chassagne, do result in variations of flavour. While Puligny usually has a slightly acidic yet floral tinge, Chassagne tastes more rounded and richly fruity.
Is Montrachet Wine Red Or White?
All Montrachet wine is white. Chardonnay grapes alone are used to produce it, and the specific area of Burgundy producing Montrachet is respected as one of the best in the country. White wines can be produced from both red and green grapes, although when using the former it is necessary to separate the pulp from the skin.
Is Montrachet Wine Dry Or Sweet?
Montrachet is generally thought of as a dry wine. Sweet wines contain more than 1% of residual sugar, and those with less than 1% are categorized as dry. When it comes to Montrachet, different vintages and variations mean that some types are sweeter than others.
How To Drink Montrachet Wine
Montrachet wine is best served at 12 to 14 degrees Celsius. It is suggested to allow Montrachet wines to age for at least 8 years. Some varieties, like Domaine des Comtes Lafon Montrachet Grand Cru, Cote de Beaune, will improve consistently until at least 15 years after its production. This specific wine is best paired with a rich dish, such as salmon with a mushroom sauce.
What Food To Pair With Montrachet Wine
Montrachet is sophisticated, and as such should be paired with food of the same calibre. Apart from the example of salmon with mushroom sauce, this white wine goes well with foods like caviar, prawns or crawfish. Other options include monkfish, veal, or even chicken, best served in a creamy sauce.
Is Montrachet Wine Expensive?
Montrachet wine does come at a cost. Its Grand Cru status and the fact that it is one of the oldest in the area makes it pricier than wine from the surrounding vineyards. It is often advised to purchase wine through a broker; however, this does drive the cost up. Ensuring the best quality costs money. Some sources estimate – in very broad terms – that a bottle can cost between $170 and $2900 (£128 to £2195).
How Long Can You Keep A Montrachet?
It’s common knowledge that wines improve with age (most of the time), and Montrachet wines adhere to that belief. Most people advise against opening Montrachet wines before 8 years of ageing. It can last for more than 20 years, but may be best opened between 10 and 15 years after its production.
What Is Similar To Montrachet Wine?
Some other dry white wines like Chablis, from the same general region, or Muscadet can be compared to Montrachet varieties. But at the end of the day, the original is always extra special!