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Chassagne-Montrachet


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Chassagne-Montrachet is a commune of about 2.5 square miles that, along with Puligny-Montrachet, contains much of the world's best white wine land. Those wines are separately classified under the five Montrachet Grands Crus, but wines labeled Chassagne-Montrachet can also be world-class. As well as possessing a share of Bâtard-Montrachet and Montrachet (wines from the Chassagne side of Montrachet are known as Le Montrachet), Chassagne-Montrachet also fully encompasses the small Grand Cru of Criots-Bâtard-Montrachet.

The two Montrachet villages constitute an immensely important part of the white wine world. While some of the best white wines, and the ones that give Montrachet its famous name, are labeled under one of the five Montrachet Grands Crus, a great deal of world-class white wine is also produced at Premier Cru level and even plain old village wine level.

While Puligny-Montrachet has a greater share of the Grands Crus, Chassagne-Montrachet declares its advantage on the Premier Cru level. Though a number of them are obscure, no less than 50 Premiers Crus exist within Chassagne-Montrachet's boundaries. There are about 865 acres of vineyards, of which about 358 acres are Premier Cru. Therefore, a little less than half of Chassagne-Montrachet's vineyards are Premiers Crus. As a result of these very convincing statistics, Chassagne takes its place as one of the top few white wine villages in the world.

History

Like many of the "second-wave" appellations, Chassagne-Montrachet was made an AOC for white wine in 1970. Strangely, the regulations also allowed red wine, but red wine has always been of miniscule importance in the village's history.

A Puligny-Montrachet Premier Cru was selected as one of the four Chardonnays to compete with the California Chardonnays in the 1976 Judgement of Paris. Chassagne-Montrachet wine was not included, but the effect was just as severe: Burgundian producers were no longer allowed to rest on their laurels and had to prove that they were the best white wine producers in the world. Despite the turmoil that arose from this and other commotion in the 1980s, Chassagne-Montrachet has remained one of the top white wine villages.

Climate and Viticulture

The entire Montrachet area has some of the best temperature, rainfall, and wind conditions of all Burgundy, particularly due to the shelter afforded by the three-way hills surrounding the area. But the limestone soil is most concentrated, and the slopes most optimal, in the five Montrachet Grands Crus. As a result, Chassagne-Montrachet and its Premiers Crus are not really afforded the absolute best land. Still, the excellently concentrated limestone and cool climate makes for premier Chardonnay.

Grape Varieties

Major Producers

This is one of Burgundy's primary appellations and to compile a list of "good" producers would be an overwhelming task. In fact, there are enough Premiers Crus so that memorization of a few of those names might be better than attempting to remember a whole list of producers whose offerings within Chassagne-Montrachet are themselves variable.

Here is a list of the world-class Chassagne-Montrachet producers. In addition to quality, these have all been vetted for availability outside France. Most producers are trustworthy here, though, so this list is by no means a be-all and end-all for the region. A total of 18 producers make the list; their wines are discussed under the Premiers Crus in the subregion section below.

Subregions

There's so much Premier Cru land that the best wines are mostly filed under this designation. Here is a list of the 50 Premier Cru designations with brief descriptions for the commonly seen ones.

Chassagne-Montrachet has a share of two Grands Crus and the entirety of a third.