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Domaine Michel Niellon Chevalier Montrachet Grand Cru 1997

Chardonnay from Puligny-Montrachet, Cote de Beaune, Cote d'Or, Burgundy, France
  • RP92
750ML / 0% ABV
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Winemaker Notes

Critical Acclaim

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RP 92
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate
Niellon, like many of his forthright colleagues, described the 1997 whites as "delicious and easy to drink." No hyperbole at this address. In the corner of Michel Niellon's cellar stands a barrel on which he places the bottles he serves visitors. When I arrived for my annual tasting, Niellon did what he always does, he moved those bottles to the floor, and pulled new, unopened ones from the stacks awaiting shipping. To my shock they were painfully closed and reeked of sulfur. After some prodding, Niellon acquiesced and allowed me to taste from the wine that had been opened for a few hours. Readers take note: these comments are from a bottled wine that had been opened and had benefited from exposure to air.
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Domaine Michel Niellon

Domaine Michel Niellon

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Domaine Michel Niellon, France - Other regions
Michel Niellon, who began working with his father Marcel in the 1950's, has crafted more than 50 vintages of extraordinary wines. The father-son team began domaine-bottling in the 1960’s and soon after, their 4-hectare estate was considered one of the very best in the village. Since 1991, Michel has shared vineyard and winemaking duties with his son-in-law, Michel Coutoux. Recently, Michel’s grandson Mathieu Bresson joined the winery as well. Today the winery has 7.5 hectares of vines, all in Chassagne-Montrachet. “We plow the vineyards for weed control and don’t use herbicides. For pest and mildew control, we practice lutte raisonnée,” explains Coutoux. Niellon does not like to wait too long before harvesting the grapes: it is preferable, he says to pick earlier rather than later. “We take acidity into consideration first. Often we are the first in the village to pick at harvest time,” Niellon. Fermentations happen spontaneously in stainless steel tanks. After the primary fermentation, the wine is moved to barrels for malolactic and aging. About 25% of the barrels are new and the total amount of new oak ranges from 20-30% depending on the cuvée. Niellon is a benchmark producer in the village of Chassagne and the wines have a classic style, expressing the terroir of each vineyard, striking a balance of crisp minerality with rich and ripe fruit.
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Puligny-Montrachet

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A source of some of the finest, juicy, silky and elegantly floral Chardonnay in the Côte de Beaune, Puligny-Montrachet lies just to the north of Chassagne-Montrachet, a village with which it shares two of its Grands Crus vineyards: Le Montrachet itself and Bâtard-Montrachet. Its other two, which it owns in their entirety, are Chevalier-Montrachet and Bienvenues-Bâtard-Montrachet. And still, some of the finest white Burgundy wines come from the prized Premiers Crus vineyards of Puligny-Montrachet. To name a few, Les Pucelles, Le Clavoillon, Les Perrières, Les Referts and Les Combettes, as well as the rest, lie northeast and up slope from the Grands Crus.

Farther to the southeast are village level whites and the hamlet of Blagny where Pinot noir grows best and has achieved Premier Cru status.

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Chardonnay

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One of the most popular and versatile white wine grapes, Chardonnay offers a wide range of flavors and styles depending on where it is grown and how it is made. While practically every country in the wine producing world grows it, Chardonnay from its Burgundian homeland produces some of the most remarkable and longest lived examples. As far as cellar potential, white Burgundy rivals the world’s other age-worthy whites like Riesling or botrytized Semillon. California is Chardonnay’s second most important home, where both oaky, buttery styles and leaner, European-inspired wines enjoy great popularity. Oregon, Australia and South America are also significant producers of Chardonnay.

In the Glass

When planted on cool sites, Chardonnay flavors tend towards grapefruit, lemon zest, green apple, celery leaf and wet flint, while warmer locations coax out richer, more tropical flavors of melon, peach and pineapple. Oak can add notes of vanilla, coconut and spice, while malolactic fermentation imparts a soft and creamy texture.

Perfect Pairings

Chardonnay is as versatile at the table as it is in the vineyard. The crisp, clean, Chablis-like styles go well with flaky white fish with herbs, scallops, turkey breast and soft cheeses. Richer Chardonnays marry well with lobster, crab, salmon, roasted chicken and creamy sauces.

Sommelier Secret

Since the 1990s, big, oaky, buttery Chardonnays from California have enjoyed explosive popularity. More recently, the pendulum has begun to swing in the opposite direction, towards a clean, crisp style that rarely utilizes new oak. In Burgundy, the subregion of Chablis, while typically employing the use of older oak barrels, produces a similar bright and acid-driven style. Anyone who doesn't like oaky Chardonnay would likely enjoy its lighter style.

JBK148393_1997 Item# 148393