ust like Bouzeron at the top of the Côte Chalonnaise Montagny is an appellation exclusively for white wine. But while Bouzeron focuses on the aligoté grape this is chardonnay country.
As you drive the three kilometres from Buxy to Montagny you have a great view over a large part of the vignoble. The appellation of Montagny is spread out over four communes – Buxy, Montagny, Jully-les-Buxy and Saint-Vallerin. The AOC status was received in 1936 and there are a total of 51 premier crus. Leaving Buxy you have the premier crus of Les Bonneveaux and Mont Laurent on your right while going straight through Les Bassets. The slope is quite steep here and as you pass through Le Montcuchot the road makes a turn to the right into the natural amphitheatre where the village of Montagny is tucked away up on the slope facing east. Stop your car up here on the slope and you will have an excellent view – Montagny to your right, Buxy to your left and Jully-lès-Buxy and Saint-Vallerin in front of you in the distance.
The village of Montagny itself is quite small with only just above 200 inhabitants. Nearby Buxy has ten times as many. The majority of the premier crus are located within the commune of Montagny. Jully-les-Buxy has three, Saint-Vallerin five and Buxy 13 of the premier crus. In some cases the premier crus cover land in two or more communes. There is far more premier cru land here than village Montagny. About two thirds of the surface area is classed as premier cru.
Montagny is the southernmost appellation of the Côte Chalonnaise, ten kilometres south of the road between Chalon-sur-Saône and Le Creusot. South of here it is only regional appellations for 40 kilometres or so until the appellations of the Mâconnais begin.
Far from all 51 premier crus are regularly seen as separate bottlings. Much is blended and sold as Montagny premier cru without any mention of a climat. The appellation is also dominated by the cooperatives in Buxy and Bissey-sous-Cruchaud. There are about 15 producers in and around Montagny that bottle their own output, but the Cave des Vignerons de Buxy and the Cave de Bissey-sous-Cruchaud account for three quarters of the total production. The former only bottles three premier crus separately – Les Chaniots, Les Coeres and Montcuchot – and the latter none.
Among the independent producers there is Domaine Stéphane Aladame who bottles Le Vieux Château, Les Coères, Les Burnins and Les Maroques. Domaine Jean-Pierre Berthenet has Les Saint-Morilles, Montcuchot and Les Platières. Le Vieux Chateau is also bottled by both Domaine Cognard and Domaine Denizot. Domaine Feuillat-Juillot has Les Coères and Les Burnins. Domaine Michel-Andreotti bottles Les Coères.
In his book on Montagny Henri Cannard talks about the possibilities of dealing with the premier crus in a similar manner as in Chablis, where 17 main premier crus are used to make life easier for anyone trying to keep track of all the premier crus. In each group all the premier crus may be labelled as the main premier cru. For Montagny Cannard has grouped together climats with similar qualities in eleven different groups. He begins in the northern part of the appellation, just outside Buxy, with Le Cornevent and Les Vignes-Longues, two climats that are facing north to northeast. Le Cornevent is the northernmost climat of the appellation. The vines are not protected from the northwinds here making the micro-climate slightly cooler. Directly west of these is another block of premier crus – Le Vieux-Chateau, La Condamine du Vieux-Château, Le Clouzeaux and Les Pidances. The soil contains more stones and the vines are facing south to southeast. Further west is a quartet consisting of Les Coudrettes, La Grande-Pièce, Le Clos-Chaudron and Les Vignes-des-Prés, where the soil is deeper, the vineyards steeper and the exposure east. As you move south you come to the vineyards tha surround the Buxy-Montagny road - Le Mont-Laurent, Le Bonneveaux, Les Montcuchot, Les Bassets and Les Vignes-du-Soleil. This is where you move from the commune of Buxy (Le Mont-Laurent, Le Bonneveaux and Les Bassets) to the one of Montagny (Les Montcuchot and Les Vignes-du-Soleil). This part of the vignoble has a steeper inclination and is facing from east to south. At the top of the slope the soil is not very deep.
Many of the Montagny premier crus are small, often not more than two or three hectares. On the northern side of the Montagny amphitheatre facing south there is a band of eleven premier crus – Les Combes, Saint-Ytages, Chamelottes, Champs-Toizeau, Les Bouchots, Gacheres, Vignes-sur-le-Clou, Les Vignes-Saint-Pierre, Les Burnins, Les Treufferes and Les Perrières – ranging from a mere hectare and a half up to 11.20 hectares. The slope is steep and thanks to the amphitheatre the vines are protected from the northwinds.
The next batch of premier crus is just south of Montagny in the shape of a little valley – Les Maroques, L'Epaule, Les Platieres, Les Beaux-Champs and Le Creux de Beaux-Champs. There is much more clay here, especially in Les Maroques, L'Epaule and Le Creux de Beaux-Champs. A bit further down the road towards the hamlet of Montorge are the climats that Cannard describes as the most Chablis-like in character – Les Macles, Sous Les Feilles, Saint-Morille, Les Vignes-Derrières and Le Cloux. Les Macles is also the climat with the highest altitude (385 metres) of the appellation. On the other side of the road, right north of Montorge are five climats facing east – Les Jardins, Les Bordes, Les Las, Les Gouresses and Les Craboulettes. The slope is gentler and the soil is deep with much clay.
Just south of Montorge are three small premier crus – Les Resses, Montorge and Paquiers. Despite the slope the humidity is higher here. Next are the three climats that make up the southern tip of the Montagny premier crus – La Mouillère, Chazelles and Chaniots. These are located just northwest of Jully-les-Buxy. Chazelles is split between both premier cru and village AC. The clay is dominating; there is very little pebbles here.
The eleventh and last group contains only one premier cru, Les Coeres. It is the largest in Montagny and it covers a total of 34 hectares in the communes of Jully-les-Buxy, Saint-Vallerin and Monatgny and shows a broad spectrum of clay types.
Already in 870 Montagny appeared in the documents of Charles the Bald. At that time it was called Mons Aureus, the Golden Mountain. During the reign of the Dukes of Burgundy the hills around Montagny were covered with woods. It was their hunting grounds when they stayed at the nearby Château de Germolles. In 1180 the village was mentioned as Montaniacus and over the centuries the name evolved – Montagniacum, Montanius, Montigny, Montagney and Montaigni. The village originally belonged to the church in Lyon. It was later transferred to the bishop of Chalon and then to the chapter of Saint-Vincent. In 1795 in was brought in under the administration of Buxy.
The old postcard above shows the view over Montagny-lès-Buxy in the early 20th century.
© 2013 Ola Bergman