The wine labeled as Monthelie is produced in the commune of the same name, which is about 1.2 square miles. About 300 acres are planted with grapes, mostly Pinot Noir, although a small percentage of white wine is also produced. There are no Grands Crus in Monthelie, but there are 15 Premiers Crus. Some blended Premier Cru, labeled simply as Monthelie Premier Cru, appears occasionally.
Pinot Noir in Monthelie makes wine of a pleasant cherry character with very little intensity or structure, but good aging potential nonetheless. There is also some Chardonnay. Much of the wine is sold at affordable prices, except for that of a few boutique producers that try to mark up their wine significantly.
Like many of the "second-wave" Burgundy appellations, Monthelie was granted recognition in 1970. Since then, it has gained a reputation for producing some very well-priced Burgundy, and due to further advances by many producers, is now one of the best appellations for red wine in the Côte de Beaune.
Climate and Viticulture
The village of Monthelie is located close to Auxey-Duresses and even closer to Volnay, in about the dead center of the Côte de Beaune. As a result, its wine-producing climate is excellent, with both wonderful weather and good concentration of limestone. However, it doesn't reach the lofty heights of some other villages due to its rather small size; indeed, Monthelie contains none of the most well-located vineyards. The climate is of similar quality to Auxey-Duresses.
- Pinot Noir: Unlike some other villages where low production of Chardonnay is disproportionate to more interest in that variety, Pinot Noir is the champion in Monthelie. Its cherry-fruit character is undisputedly pleasant and makes the wine approachable at an early age, and yet at later ages the flavors can often become even more subtle. A tannic backbone will support the wine through long aging, and often fades to leave simply the great flavors after about 10 years or so. Drink it early on if you desire simple cherry flavors with powerful tannins. Some more expensive examples focus more on sweet, velvety tannins, but the most well-priced wines are powerful as well as being luscious.
- Chardonnay: Chardonnay is very much a supporting character in Monthelie, with typical white Burgundy peach and mineral flavors. It can often be laid down for quite a while as well.
While the Monthelie appellation is generally reliable, five producers stand out in terms of both quality and general availability. The fourth producer, Château de Puligny Montrachet, is Monthelie's greatest white wine producer.
- Bouchard Pere et Fils
- Domaine du Comte Lafon
- Domaine Jean Garaudet
- Château de Puligny Montrachet
- Domaine Guy Roulot
While no Grands Crus lie within the boundaries of Monthelie, there are plenty of Premiers Crus to go around. The total number comes to no less than 15.
- La Barbiére
- Le Cas Rougeot
- Les Champs Fulliot: This fairly common one usually signifies superior quality to the village level wine.
- Le Château Gaillard
- Le Clos Gauthey
- Le Clos de Toisières
- Le Clou de Chênes
- Les Clous
- Les Duresses: The Premier Cru of Les Duresses produces most of the great Monthelie wine; while the wines can often command a seemingly exorbitantly higher price, they are often worth it due to a higher level of vinous sophistication. Domaine des Comtes Lafon is one example of a domaine whose best Monthelie is produced within Les Duresses. While it may often be the most expensive Monthelie outside of Domaine Leroy's boutique bottlings, Lafon's Monthelie is worth the price. The wine often displays black-fruit flavors rather than the red fruit core that most Monthelie reds emphasize. Rarely intense, it is instead silky and ripe for early drinking. Nonetheless, it provides the tannic backbone for aging. Expect to pay in between $45 and $60 for a bottle.
- Le Meix Bataille
- Les Riottes
- Sur la Velle
- La Taupine
- Les Vignes Rondes
- Le Village