Editor’s note: This post is from a new contributor, Mark E. Ricardo, who is the author of Simply Burgundy: A Practical Guide to Understanding the Wines of Burgundy and the founder of Trellis Fine Wine Investments, LLC, a boutique fine wine investment and consulting firm. He also is the former wine and food columnist for the Washington Theater Review and an avid collector of fine wine.
Have you ever wanted to try the best white wines of Burgundy? You know, the big boy grand crus from Le Montrachet, Chevalier-Montrachet, Bátard-Montrachet, Bienvenues-Bátard-Montrachet and Criots Bátard-Montrachet but just couldn’t, or didn’t want to pay the sky-high prices that these wines demand?
Well, you just might be able to have your cake and eat it too by looking for wines from the following “hidden gem” vineyards which are located near the cluster of prestigious grand crus in the communes of Puligny-Montrachet and Chassagne-Montrachet. Wines from these relatively unknown vineyards tend to exhibit characteristics of their grand cru neighbors but at a lower price.
Of course, the actual price difference depends on the individual producer, given that there can be a wide discrepancy of prices among different producers from a specific vineyard. Nevertheless, if you are looking for grand cru caliber chardonnay at a lower price, I suggest that you search for wines from these seven lesser known vineyards.
Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru Les Demoiselles
Probably the most prestigious of the hidden gems. Wines from this tiny sub-parcel within the broader Puligny premier cru of Le Cailleret are very rare and usually of exceptional quality. What makes Les Demoiselles so special is that it lies immediately down-slope from the Chevalier-Montrachet grand cru and is made up of the last few rows of vines that abut the northern boundary of the Le Montrachet grand cru. Wines from this vineyard tend to be very taught with intense minerality and honey and floral notes. Their intense minerality make them more like their western neighbor Chevalier-Montrachet, than Le Montrachet.Key producers include: Guy Amiot, Michel Colin-Deleger and Philippe-Colin.
Puligny-Montrachet Les Enseignères
Although this vineyard is classified merely as an AOC village Puligny-Montrachet, it is located just below the grand crus of Bátard-Montrachet and Bienvenues-Bâtard-Montrachet. Key producers include: Coche-Dury, Ramonet, Marc Colin, Alex Gambel, Jean Pascal and Prudhon. Also look for Henri Boillot’s village Puligny-Montrachet which is primarily made up of fruit from this vineyard.
Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru En Remilly
This well situated vineyard lies just above the southwest corner of the Chevalier-Montrachet grand cru and is sandwiched in between this prestigious grand cru and the excellent St. Aubin premier cru of the same name. Wines from this vineyard tend to be very crisp with minerality and great finesse. Key producers include: Michel Colin-Deleger, Bruno Colin, Morey-Coffinet and Buisson-Charles.
Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru Dent de Chien
This tiny vineyard lies just above the southwest corner of the Le Montrachet grand cru and is on the same hill-line as the Chevalier-Montrachet grand cru. In fact, a portion of this vineyard was incorporated into Le Montrachet during its official classification. Given its position relative to both Le Montrachet and Chevalier-Montrachet, wines from this vineyard tend to exhibit characteristics of both grand crus, but to a lesser degree. They typically are rich and focused, showing floral aromas with citrus, mineral and nut flavors.Key producers include: Chateau de la Maltroye, Morey-Coffinet, Thomas Morey and Olivier Leflaive.
Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru Blanchot Dessus
This well located vineyard lies to the immediate south of the Le Montrachet grand cru and is the up-slope continuation of the Criots-Bâtard-Montrachet grand cru. Its rocky soils are similar to those of Le Montrachet and typically produce wines that are powerful, concentrated and aromatic with vibrant fruit, minerality and floral aspects – comparable to those of its grand cru neighbors. Key producers include: Jean-Claude Bachelet, Morey Coffinet, Jean-Noël Gagnard, Bruno Colin and Darviot-Perrin.
Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru Vide Bourse
This small vineyard lies to the immediate east of the Bâtard-Montrachet grand cru and is considered to be a down slope continuation of this famous vineyard. Given its soil composition and proximity to Bâtard-Montrachet many consider Vide Bourse to be a “baby” Bâtard. Key producers include: Thomas Morey, Marc Colin, Pierre-Yves Colin-Morey, Albert Bichot and Fernand Pillot.
Chassagne-Montrachet Les Encègnières / Les Ancègnières
This village vineyard is a southern extension of the Puligny-Montrachet Les Enseignères vineyard. It lies to the immediate east of the Bâtard-Montrachet grand cru and to the immediate north of Chassagne-Montrachet premier cru Vide Bourse. Like Vide Bourse, Les Encègnières can be considered a down slope continuation of Bâtard-Montrachet. Given its proximity to Bâtard-Montrachet and the highly regarded Vide Bourse, it’s somewhat perplexing as to why this well located vineyard wasn’t classified as a premier cru. Key producers include: Marc Colin, Etienne Sauzet and Pierre-Yves Colin-Morey (who labels his wine as Les Ancègnières).