hite Monthelie is relatively rare. But it is becoming more and more popular. People like it because it is slightly drier in character. At times Meursault can be too fat and too powerful, even too heavy. In Monthelie the wines are generally more mineral.
Denis Boussey is one of the growers in Monthelie. He has been making wine in the village for several decades. At first together with his father, then, from 1971, under his own name.
– With a neighbour like Meursault how could you make a bad white wine? We’re 500 metres from Meursault, so our soil is not that different.
Monthelie is the smallest village on the Côte de Beaune. Squeezed in between Volnay and Meursault it has always been over-shadowed by its considerably more well-known neighbours. Being a small appellation – half the size of Volnay and only a quarter of Meursault – means smaller quantities of wine and therefore less frequently seen on the market.
Denis Boussey is the fourth generation of winegrowers in his family. His great-grandfather arrived in the village as a vineyard worker. He spent most of his time working for the other growers in Monthelie and whenever he could afford it he would buy some vines.
– My grandfather bought another three or four parcels of vines, says Denis Boussey. During his time the domaine really started to grow. Then in 1945 my father took on the domaine. My mother had vines in Volnay and Pommard, while my father had Monthelie and Meursault.
Today Domaine Denis Boussey covers seven and a half hectares. The vineyards are gradually being passed over to Denis’ son Laurent, who currently is working a domaine of his own of the same size.
– My grandfather began bottling in 1937, explains Denis Boussey. My father continued to develop that part of the domaine. Back then there were many growers in Monthelie who didn’t bottle at all. Many were selling something like 90 per cent to the négociants.
In addition to the white Monthelie Denis Boussey also makes three red Monthelie cuvées – two from village appellation land – Toisières and Hauts Brins – and one premier cru – Champs Fulliot.
– Toisières is the first vineyard as you enter the village from the Meursault side, says Denis Boussey. It’s a west-facing slope with very thin soil. During the summer the vines can suffer from drought. Hauts Brins is at the opposite end of the commune, on the Volnay side.
Because of the different conditions for the to parcels Denis Boussey has chosen to make two different cuvées instead of blending the two. This produces two wines of different character. One for early drinking, the Toisières, and one for keeping a bit longer, the Hauts Brins.
– Toisières is generally more feminine, says Denis Boussey. A wine with a bit less depth. Hauts Brins you have to keep for at least four or five years. The first two-three years the tannins tend to dominate.
One step up the appellation ladder is the Monthelie premier cru Champs Fulliot. Located right next to the Beaune-Autun road this vineyard is the southern continuation of Volnay’s Clos des Chênes.
– There is just a small road separating Champs Fulliot from the Volnay premier crus. Among the premier crus in Monthelie I think this is the best located. You have stony soil. A mix of clay and limestone.
According to Denis Boussey there are no parts of Monthelie that are better suited for pinot noir or chardonnay. Pinot noir is by far the dominating variety and the ten per cent of chardonnay vines can be found all over the appellation.
– That’s quite peculiar, says Denis Boussey. In my case the white Monthelie comes from vines in Les Mandènes. That’s above Hauts Brins, on the Volnay side of Monthelie. It’s a parcel I planted about 25 years ago. It has a good exposure, straight to the south, and it’s up on a plateau, so compared with down around the village the grapes need a few more days to ripen up there. You get a very good minerality. The soil mainly limestone, about 40 centimetres deep.
Domaine Denis Boussey is not only Monthelie. It covers a large number of appellations, from Puligny-Montrachet and Meursault, via Auxey-Duresses, Volnay and Pommard, up to Beaune, Savigny-lès-Beaune and Aloxe-Corton. In Meursault there is the premier cru Charmes, as well as two village appellation bottlings – one old vines and the Clos du Pré de Manche.
– Clos du Pré de Manche is just next to Le Cromin, says Denis Boussey. The soil is deep and stony. Thanks to the surrounding houses and the trees at the camping it is warmer there. Working there in the summer can be tough. It easily reaches 40°C.
Also the vines for the Bourgogne blanc are located in Meursault, just outside the appellation Meursault, but still within the commune of Meursault.
– I have two parcels, says Denis Boussey. One in Les Pellans and one in Sous la Velle. Both lieux-dits have one part in appellation Meursault and one in the regional appellation. Sous la Velle is just below the village. Les Pellans is along the road to Puligny-Montrachet. When you drive there you have Meursault premier cru Charmes on one side and Bourgogne Les Pellans on the other. The soil is quite similar in both parcels. Dark clay with few stones. The vines in Les Pellans were planted 70 years ago by my grandfather. In Sous la Velle the vines are between 50 and 70 years old.
– I try to make wine that can be drunk after three or four years. The year after bottling it is still a bit closed. I don’t want make wines that open up too quickly.
© 2013 Ola Bergman