March 10, 2007

2004 Domaine Lamy Pillot Chassagne-Montrachet, Cote D'Or, Burgundy, France

Back to Burgundy, but this time a Chardonnay... and one with a long pedigree. Chassagne-Montrachet is known for great Chardonnay, but this was not always the case. Historically, mostly Pinot Noir was grown here but it had difficulty living up to the quality produced in neighboring Volany or Corton. Now more than half the vineyards in Chassagne-Montrachet are producing Chardonnay, and of the five appellation designations for this area three are grands crus, or the best of the best. The appellation Montrachet is considered to be the "king of white wines." This bottle is not appellation Montrachet, but is the appellation Chassagne-Montrachet controlee. I will explain the French concept of appellation designation another time, but suffice it to say that this wine would be considered, though excellent, the entry level for the Chardonnay of Chassagne-Montrachet.

This wine is made by Lamy Pillot, the result of a familial merger. The Lamy family have been winemakers in Burgundy since 1640. The Pillot family began making wine in Chassagne-Montrachet around 1595. Like Shakespeare, these two families were joined by marriage, but this time with a happy result. The marriage had the result of also joining their vineyards, most notably in the best areas of of Chassagne-Montrachet, Santenay and Beaune. Three hundred years later they remain a family driven winery and Lamy Pillot produces consistently excellent, prestigious wines from their diverse vineyard holdings.

I would not classify Cat and I as Chardonnay lovers. We do really like the Burgundian style of Chardonnay, though, and this wine is solidly in that category (itself actually BEING a Burgundian Chardonnay... that's not obvious or anything). The biggest difference between the broad styles of Chardonnay, to my mind Californian and Burgundian, is the way in which oak barrels are used in the vinification and maturation process. Californian style Chardonnay producers, and this is a bit of a generalization, gravitate to a heavier, more oaked style with oak flavors very present in their wines. The Burgundian style Chardonnay producers tend to want the oak to be incredibly subtle, and to have the natural flavors of the wine and the terroir be the focal point. Some use no oak at all. We like that approach and if you have read some of our other reviews here on winecommando, that is now patently obvious.

We poured this wine and let it open for a bit before tasting. We found the nose to be rich and full. It smells of honeysuckle, apple and honeydew melon. Very distinct and round fruit to the nose, but not in a heavy or cloying way. There is also the subtlest limestone scent, as well as a nutty quality. The nose is wonderfully complex. So is the palate, which is big and mouth filling with melon, more apple and a little citrus. There is an earthy component, the limestone again, and a little almondine and vanilla. All of this is incredibly well balanced, and while I would say this approached being a heavy bodied Chardonnay, it is very soft and evenly structured. This wine is terrific to enjoy on its own, but would also pair really well with food and could match fish and poutry dishes. I would even consider pairing this with pork tenderloin.

cost - $37.99

winecommando rating (1-10) - 8.75

1 comment:

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