Is Le Montrachet really a notch above the other hyphenated ones?

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Alex Rychlewski
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Is Le Montrachet really a notch above the other hyphenated ones?

#1 Post by Alex Rychlewski » January 13th, 2019, 8:20 am

Hi,

I realize, of course, that producer counts here. A lot.

I ask the question as someone who has had all the wines, be never in a comparative tasting.

Your insight will be much appreciated.

I was under the impression that the established pecking order was:

Le Montrachet
Chevalier Montrachet
Bâtard Montrachet
Bienvenues Bâtard Montrachet
Criots Bâtard Montrachet

Do you go along with this "received wisdom"?

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Re: Is Le Montrachet really a notch above the other hyphenated ones?

#2 Post by alan weinberg » January 13th, 2019, 8:44 am

there’s an extra gear in some Montrachet, more power, perhaps an additional layer. I don’t have huge experience and am more of a Chevalier fan for my taste, but I think the hierarchy is valid.

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Re: Is Le Montrachet really a notch above the other hyphenated ones?

#3 Post by Gerhard P. » January 13th, 2019, 8:49 am

With MONTRACHET you can have it all: the greatest white ever, and huge disapointments, e.g. when opening a negociant bottling.
When it´s on ... it´s really on ... no substitute!

Chevalier can often be the better wine depending on producer and vintage, but when both is top (or the same) the M. is almost always superior.

I would prefer a Bienvenue-BM over a Batard in most cases because the BBM has the better producers, but there are exceptions, at Ramonet I often preferred the BBM, but there are really fine Batards, too.
Criots is definitely at the bottom of the list - it´s more a very good 1er Cru than a GC, but I had 1-2 fine examples.
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Re: Is Le Montrachet really a notch above the other hyphenated ones?

#4 Post by Robert Pavlovich » January 13th, 2019, 8:59 am

Lamy's Criots is a stunner, probably tops for that vineyard right now. I like the mix of power and elegance found in good Batards. Have had less success with BBM, but still early days for me.

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Re: Is Le Montrachet really a notch above the other hyphenated ones?

#5 Post by DanielPaik » January 13th, 2019, 9:16 am

In the most recent I'll Drink to That podcast, Jasper Morris seems to think there is clear delineation between Montrachet and the others, including a clear geological delineation, which is cool. I don't drink much burgundy, and certainly not grand cru burg, so I can't personally comment. But I still enjoy hearing about these differences.

https://soundcloud.com/leviopenswine/ja ... #t=1:35:54

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Re: Is Le Montrachet really a notch above the other hyphenated ones?

#6 Post by Kris Patten » January 13th, 2019, 9:25 am

My preference outside of a DRC/Ramonet Monty would likely be....

Chevy
Monty
BBM (more precision for my palate)
Batard
Criots (purely from lack of experience)
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Re: Is Le Montrachet really a notch above the other hyphenated ones?

#7 Post by William Kelley » January 13th, 2019, 9:43 am

DanielPaik wrote:
January 13th, 2019, 9:16 am
In the most recent I'll Drink to That podcast, Jasper Morris seems to think there is clear delineation between Montrachet and the others, including a clear geological delineation, which is cool. I don't drink much burgundy, and certainly not grand cru burg, so I can't personally comment. But I still enjoy hearing about these differences.

https://soundcloud.com/leviopenswine/ja ... #t=1:35:54
There is a geological fault dividing Montrachet and Chevalier, so the two are characterized by different limestone strata. The soil gets quite a lot deeper in Bâtard, though with slope wash from the Montrachet and Chevalier above.
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Re: Is Le Montrachet really a notch above the other hyphenated ones?

#8 Post by Nick Ellis » January 13th, 2019, 9:44 am

Chevalier has the highest elevation and incline (something like 15 degrees), so you’d think it would get better drainage and more sunlight than the other sites. All of the Bastard Monty’s looked to be as flat as the 1er Crus that surrounded them, while Le Montrachet has a slight incline. Since position on the Cote seems to have a big impact on prestige, it seems like Chevalier should be a notch above the Bastards. The best Monty I ever had was a Chevalier, but I’ve had maybe 20 bottles total from all 5 vineyards.

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Re: Is Le Montrachet really a notch above the other hyphenated ones?

#9 Post by Rauno E (NZ) » January 13th, 2019, 10:33 am

The simple answer is "yes". For most producers, if they make a range including Montrachet then that will be their best wine. There are some potential exceptions - e.g. Jadot Chevalier Demoiselles is probably better than their Montrachet. The pecking order you list certainly reflects pricing, but it really isn't that simple. For example, Carillon BBM is better than most Batards for many people. You're quite correct highlighting that producer is paramount - e.g. there are few Montrachets (probably just Ramonet, Lafon, DRC) that are better than a great Chevalier from Leflaive or d'Auvenay.
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Re: Is Le Montrachet really a notch above the other hyphenated ones?

#10 Post by jcoley3 » January 13th, 2019, 10:35 am

I think that's a fair pecking order, hough Chevalier tends to be in better "hands" on average than Montrachet itself. Domaine d'Auvenay Chevalier is probably the greatest white wine I have ever had, and I would love to see what they could do with a sliver of Montrachet.

I think those two are also a notable cut above the remaining three (not that I would turn my nose up at any of them).
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Re: Is Le Montrachet really a notch above the other hyphenated ones?

#11 Post by Tom Reddick » January 13th, 2019, 7:52 pm

I generally agree with the pecking order in terms of what the vineyards can offer- whether individual producers step up to the plate is another matter.

That said, even a poorly made Montrachet or an example from a light year will still have a certain resonant power to it that is quite notable and unique. Doesn't mean it is worth buying, but the "voice" of Montrachet is pretty much impossible to silence.

The only other way I know of to experience a bit of that same resonant power is in Puligny-Montrachet Le Cailleret. The vineyard is contiguous with Montrachet- to the east, and the wines have some of that same stony and fiery potency- although in lighter measure and more in keeping with the premier cru scale of the wine. Puligny Cailleret is not an easy wine to find- but very much worth the effort.
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Re: Is Le Montrachet really a notch above the other hyphenated ones?

#12 Post by Howard Cooper » January 13th, 2019, 8:18 pm

Bouchard is a good example as it makes a Montrachet and two Chevalier Montrachets (a regular one and la Cabotte - from a parcel right on the border between Montrachet and Chevalier). From my experience, the Montrachet is consistently the best of these, the la Cabotte second best and the regular Chevalier, while a fabulous wine, is not as fabulous as the other two.
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Re: Is Le Montrachet really a notch above the other hyphenated ones?

#13 Post by Kris Patten » January 13th, 2019, 9:09 pm

Howard Cooper wrote:
January 13th, 2019, 8:18 pm
Bouchard is a good example as it makes a Montrachet and two Chevalier Montrachets (a regular one and la Cabotte - from a parcel right on the border between Montrachet and Chevalier). From my experience, the Montrachet is consistently the best of these, the la Cabotte second best and the regular Chevalier, while a fabulous wine, is not as fabulous as the other two.
Same paradigm I find with Jadot....Demoiselles is favorite, Monty second, regular Chevy third...I'd need to sort out which are Domaine versus Negociant, are all the Drouhin wines Domaine?
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Re: Is Le Montrachet really a notch above the other hyphenated ones?

#14 Post by dcornutt » January 14th, 2019, 2:30 am

To me this is like the La Tache and Romanee Conti comparison. When Montrachet is right, fully open and in the best of hands, it is a special wine. There are no others even Leflaive Chevalier or Niellon Chevalier that touch it for expression and complexity. I would take any of them however without a second thought. I saw Jim mentioned d'Auvenay Chevalier. That one is a special case. To me, the winemaker has turned that bottle into something mythical. One of the best, if not the best, white wines I have ever tasted.
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Re: Is Le Montrachet really a notch above the other hyphenated ones?

#15 Post by William Kelley » January 14th, 2019, 4:46 am

I don't know of any address where you can taste all of them from domaine sourcing, which is too bad. But there are a few domaines where you get to compare an interesting range.

At Ramonet, you can taste all except Criots, and though they don't own the Chevalier parcel they work the vines. The Montrachet has the most volume and dimension, with more power but less weight than the Bâtard; it's expansive, limpid and very penetrating. The Chevalier is more "vertical" and incisive, not far off the Montrachet in quality but very different in character. The Bâtard is denser and more blocky, while the Bienvenues is suppler and more open, with less density and weight.

At d'Auvenay, you can taste Criots, Bâtard and Chevalier. Again, the distinctions are pretty textbook, and I have found them blind without difficulty each time I have tasted. The Criots is broader, more exotic and musky (it's also raised in steel as the volume is so small); the Bâtard is denser and more tight-knit, with a less exotic nose; and the Chevalier is searingly mineral and intense, with amazing power and energy. For my palate, the d'Auvenay Chevalier is the best white wine being made in the world today.

At Fontaine-Gagnard, the archetypes hold true: the Criots is more honeyed, exotic and musky, with the oiliest texture; Bâtard denser and more controlled; and the Montrachet more ample and expansive and less blocky than the Bâtard - though it's not as dramatic as Ramonet's.

At Leflaive, the Bienvenues seems to oscillate between resembling Bâtard and resembling a broader-shouldered Pucelles - the latter being its tendency. The vines are some of the domaine's oldest there and I would say they make / can make the most minerally Bienvenues. The Bâtard is dense, layered and powerful. The Chevalier more vertical, tensile, chalky but not much less powerful. The Montrachet, again, ampler and with another dimension.

Apparently, old Pierre Ramonet used to say that, Bâtard you can drink with food and Montrachet you should drink on its own. I think there's some truth to that. A great Montrachet is almost too intense an experience to allow any distractions. It's almost too great a great wine to have with a meal.
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Re: Is Le Montrachet really a notch above the other hyphenated ones?

#16 Post by Karl K » January 14th, 2019, 6:00 am

Would be nice to have the experience you do, William!

Second-hand better than not at all, so thanks for sharing.
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Re: Is Le Montrachet really a notch above the other hyphenated ones?

#17 Post by Ian Dorin » January 14th, 2019, 6:42 am

Depends who's making it :)
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Re: Is Le Montrachet really a notch above the other hyphenated ones?

#18 Post by D. HEIN » January 14th, 2019, 1:54 pm

J/C & D/C,

Was the incredible 1993 D'Auvenay we drank at Mitch Hershs' weekend Burgundy tasting a Chevalier?

For a somewhat off white Burgundy vintage, it was mind blowing! I recall Brad England flipping "OUT" upon tasting this wine!

Here!
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Re: Is Le Montrachet really a notch above the other hyphenated ones?

#19 Post by jcoley3 » January 14th, 2019, 2:03 pm

D. HEIN wrote:
January 14th, 2019, 1:54 pm
J/C & D/C,

Was the incredible 1993 D'Auvenay we drank at Mitch Hershs' weekend Burgundy tasting a Chevalier?

For a somewhat off white Burgundy vintage, it was mind blowing! I recall Brad England flipping "OUT" upon tasting this wine!

Here!
That was indeed the one. Just otherworldly in what was stunning company.
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Re: Is Le Montrachet really a notch above the other hyphenated ones?

#20 Post by Fred C » January 14th, 2019, 2:14 pm

William Kelley wrote:
January 14th, 2019, 4:46 am
For my palate, the d'Auvenay Chevalier is the best white wine being made in the world today.
I haven’t had the pleasure of trying the Chevalier Montrachet but after tasting her Gouttes d’Or my sentiments are similar.

PYCM produces the entire range in question even if not all domaine sourced.

Of his wines I also prefer Chevalier Montrachet to Montrachet and the BBM over his Batard. His Criots is not to shabby either!
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Re: Is Le Montrachet really a notch above the other hyphenated ones?

#21 Post by William Kelley » January 14th, 2019, 2:34 pm

Fred C wrote:
January 14th, 2019, 2:14 pm
William Kelley wrote:
January 14th, 2019, 4:46 am
For my palate, the d'Auvenay Chevalier is the best white wine being made in the world today.
I haven’t had the pleasure of trying the Chevalier Montrachet but after tasting her Gouttes d’Or my sentiments are similar.

PYCM produces the entire range in question even if not all domaine sourced.

Of his wines I also prefer Chevalier Montrachet to Montrachet and the BBM over his Batard. His Criots is not to shabby either!
He generally prefers his Bâtard, and personally I agree! Apparently the parcel he sources from (and now farms) is 90 years old and produces tiny berries.

Don't think he has made Montrachet, BBM or Criots the last couple of years but maybe he simply didn't present them for tasting.
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Re: Is Le Montrachet really a notch above the other hyphenated ones?

#22 Post by Alex Rychlewski » January 15th, 2019, 12:56 am

Many thanks for all the replies, and especially to William Kelly.

Best regards,
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Re: Is Le Montrachet really a notch above the other hyphenated ones?

#23 Post by Stephen Williams » January 15th, 2019, 3:08 am

I think Caroline Morey now makes a Criots.
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Re: Is Le Montrachet really a notch above the other hyphenated ones?

#24 Post by dcornutt » January 15th, 2019, 3:13 am

D. HEIN wrote:
January 14th, 2019, 1:54 pm
J/C & D/C,

Was the incredible 1993 D'Auvenay we drank at Mitch Hershs' weekend Burgundy tasting a Chevalier?

For a somewhat off white Burgundy vintage, it was mind blowing! I recall Brad England flipping "OUT" upon tasting this wine!

Here!
I remember. What a wine. Yes a 1993 Chevalier. Brought by Jim Coley. It is one of the greatest white wine experiences of my life. Hi Donn. I didn't make the connection until now.
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Re: Is Le Montrachet really a notch above the other hyphenated ones?

#25 Post by J Wei » January 15th, 2019, 8:12 am

As many have echoed here, I think it ultimately depends on producer. Like PYCM, Pernot's BBM are quite good. . . some would argue it is better than his Batard.
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Re: Is Le Montrachet really a notch above the other hyphenated ones?

#26 Post by Mike Grammer » January 15th, 2019, 9:08 am

Need more personal data points [grin.gif]

The 2010 Ramonet Montrachet, had in its extreme youth, is arguably the greatest dry white wine I've ever had--only the 1999 Haut-Brion Blanc is in the same discussion.

I have in mind a memorable petit conversation with Francois Audouze at a dinner in 2014 where I brought the 08 Blain-Gagnard Criots-Batard (with thanks to Dr. Don for first helping me to discover it!) and we both commented sotto voce that we preferred Criots to Batard, but it is all about style preference I think. In my *very* limited experience:

Montrachet
Chevy
Criots
Batard
BBM

fun topic and thanks to posters for weighing in with lots of great comments thus far, especially with reference to producer impact .In that vein, Juyuan, with Pernot, I agree with you, though the Batard is by no means shabby

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Re: Is Le Montrachet really a notch above the other hyphenated ones?

#27 Post by Gerhard P. » January 16th, 2019, 12:36 am

Fwiw on Monday I had
- BBM Pernot 2008
- and Chev.M. Niellon 2008
side by side.
The Chevy was slightly superior, more focused, minerally, slightly more intense, but the BBM wasn´t shabby either, more voluptuous and creamier, quite soft, but with good length, both still quite young but enjoyable.
A very interesting comparison -
95 vers. 94 points
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